Greece broaches war repa­ra­tions is­sue again

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier bows be­fore the Tomb of the Un­known Soldier out­side Greece’s Par­lia­ment in Athens af­ter lay­ing a wreath dur­ing an of­fi­cial visit yes­ter­day. At a meet­ing with Greek Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras, Stein­meier apol­o­gized for the ‘hor­rors’ com­mit­ted dur­ing the Nazi oc­cu­pa­tion of Greece, not­ing that they should not be for­got­ten, and said his coun­try still bears the ‘moral and po­lit­i­cal guilt’ for crimes com­mit­ted. Pres­i­dent Prokopis Pavlopou­los re­it­er­ated Greece’s de­mands for war repa­ra­tions from Ger­many dur­ing talks yes­ter­day with his Ger­man coun­ter­part Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier, who also vis­ited the site of a Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camp in the Athens sub­urb of Haidari and stressed that the crimes of the past should not be for­got­ten.

“We do not want to for­get the past nor to over­look the moral and po­lit­i­cal guilt that bur­dens us,” Stein­meier said dur­ing a meet­ing with Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras. In a tele­vised ex­change, he agreed with Tsipras on the need for “a new be­gin­ning in re­la­tions be­tween Greece and Ger­many. Tsipras, for his part, said the two coun­tries “need to put the last eight years and what­ever stereo­types” may have soured their re­la­tion­ship be­hind them, but added that this does not mean “sweep­ing dif­fer­ences from the dis­tant past un­der the rug.” Those dif­fer­ences should be re­solved on the ba­sis of in­ter­na­tional law, he said.

Later in the day, Pavlopou­los broached the con­tentious is­sue of war repa­ra­tions – that Ber­lin in­sists has been re­solved – say­ing that Athens con­sid­ers its claims “legally valid and ju­di­cially pur­suable.” Greece’s claims to war repa­ra­tions are not “uni­lat­eral and ar­bi­trary” but rooted in in­ter­na­tional and Euro­pean law, he said. Stein­meier, for his part, did not ex­plic­itly com­ment on the is­sue though Ger­man gov­ern­ment spokesman Stef­fen Seib­ert re­peated Ber­lin’s con­vic­tion that the mat­ter has been set­tled.

Sources close to Tsipras said that he too re­peated to Stein­meier Greece’s “es­tab­lished” po­si­tions on war repa­ra­tions and a so-called “oc­cu­pa­tion loan” that Greece was forced to take un­der the Nazis.

Tsipras and Stein­meier also dis­cussed the Pre­spes name deal be­tween Greece and the Former Yu­goslav Repub­lic of Mace­do­nia, with the Ger­man leader de­scrib­ing the pact as “ex­tremely coura­geous.”

Stein­meier also met with con­ser­va­tive New Democ­racy leader Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis for talks that fo­cused on the Greek econ­omy and the refugee cri­sis.

Ger­man Pres­i­dent

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