President Prokopis Pavlopoulos reiterated Greece’s demands for war reparations from Germany during talks on Thursday 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.
It was Pavlopoulos that 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.