A LONG-STANDING row over whether Germany still owes Greece war reparations stemming from the Nazi occupation has erupted once again in a spat between the foreign minister of Greece and Germany’s finance minister.
German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was quoted by German media yesterday as suggesting that Greece should focus on reforming its economy and that the issue of war reparations was definitively closed years ago.
“I consider such comments irresponsible. Much more important than misleading people with such stories would be to explain and spell out the reform path,” the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung quoted him as saying. “Greece has already accomplished a lot but also still has a longer way ahead of it. One should not divert attention from that.”
In an immediate riposte, Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said the reparations issue was one for international law to determine, stressing it was completely unrelated to Greece’s international financial bailout.
Debt-strapped Greece is receiving billions of euros in rescue loans from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund.
“There is no relation, nor can there be, between the [financial] reforms being carried out in Greece and the issue of German reparations,” Avramopoulos said in a statement. “Besides, German reparations are an issue that the Greek state brought up many years ago. Whether or not this case is closed is determined by international justice.”
The issue of war reparations has been a contentious and legally complicated one for decades.