Merkel says Ger­many recog­nises Nazi crimes

Viet Nam News - - WORLD -

ATHENS — Ger­many recog­nises its his­tor­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity for crimes com­mit­ted by the Nazis in Greece, Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel said yes­ter­day on her first visit to Athens since 2014.

“We recog­nise our his­tor­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity. We know how much suf­fer­ing we, as Ger­many in the time of Nazism, have brought to Greece,” she said.

“That is why it’s a les­son for us to do ev­ery­thing to have good re­la­tions with Greece, and to lend each other sup­port for the pros­per­ity of both coun­tries.”

Ten­sions linger over wartime repa­ra­tions for the World War II Nazi oc­cu­pa­tion of Greece, with Ber­lin ar­gu­ing the is­sue was set­tled in 1960 in a deal with sev­eral Euro­pean gov­ern­ments.

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel on Thurs­day heaped praise on Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras in a show of post-aus­ter­ity sol­i­dar­ity dur­ing a visit to Athens, lend­ing diplo- matic sup­port for a name change for Greece’s neigh­bour Mace­do­nia, which is still a di­vi­sive is­sue in Greece.

Merkel’s ar­rival was in marked con­trast to her last of­fi­cial visit to Athens in 2014 when she faced an­gry anti-aus­ter­ity protests.

“Through co-op­er­a­tion, we can all have a bet­ter fu­ture rather than through na­tion­al­ism, which fre­quently led Europe to dis­as­ter,” Merkel said.

“We Ger­mans know par­tic­u­larly well what these dis­as­ters mean, be­cause of the bleak his­tory of Na­tional So­cial­ism.”

Merkel con­grat­u­lated Tsipras on his “de­ci­sive ac­tion” on Greece’s name row with Mace­do­nia.

The for­mer con­stituent part of Yu­goslavia shares the name of a north­ern Greek prov­ince.

Tsipras and Mace­do­nian coun­ter­part Zo­ran Zaev have agreed in prin­ci­ple for Skopje to change the name of the coun­try to “the Repub­lic of North Mace­do­nia.”

But Skopje law­mak­ers still have to vote through a move which en­tails four con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments and re­quires two thirds sup­port in par­lia­ment.

The name deal will per­mit the Repub­lic of North Mace­do­nia to join NATO and the EU, the Ger­man chan­cel­lor said and “is in the in­ter­est of all of Europe.”

Tsipras de­scribed it as “a model ac­cord” which will bring sta­bil­ity and growth to the re­gion.

“Greece was part of the prob­lem and has be­come part of the so­lu­tion,” he said af­ter two hours of talks with Merkel.

Also in 2014, ex-pres­i­dent Joachim Gauck sought pub­lic for­give­ness in the name of Ger­many from rel­a­tives of those mur­dered by the Nazis in the moun­tains of north­ern Greece.

Merkel was to hold talks with con­ser­va­tive op­po­si­tion New Democ­racy party leader Kyr­i­akos Mit­so­takis, an EU par­lia­ment ally of her Chris­tian Democrats, and meet Pres­i­dent Prokopis Pavlopou­los.

Ten­sions were high be­tween Ber­lin and Athens dur­ing the eu­ro­zone sovereign debt cri­sis when Merkel’s gov­ern­ment in­sisted on tough aus­ter­ity mea­sures for Greece in re­turn for in­ter­na­tional bailouts.

Tsipras was a fer­vent op­po­nent of the aus­ter­ity mea­sures when he came to power in 2015, but changed tack six months later un­der pres­sure from the Euro­pean Union.

His mes­sage on Thurs­day was of tol­er­ance and unity.

“The ma­jor dan­ger to­day for Europe is not po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences be­tween forces that be­lieve in Europe, but the emer­gence of anti-Euro­pean pow­ers that threaten it. “— AFP

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