Greek Parliament will revisit on Wednesday the issue of the country’s claim for German war reparations, with party leaders and MPs expected to debate the content of a House committee’s report on the subject ahead of a vote to revive the demands.
The committee’s proposal has the backing of leftist SYRIZA, conservative New Democracy, the centrist Movement for Change and the Union of Centrists (with the Communist Party expected to make its own proposal).
The proposal calls on the government to “take all the necessary diplomatic and legal action in order to claim and fully satisfy all the demands of the Greek state for World War I and II.”
Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis spoke of “a historic moment for the Greek Parliament,” telling reporters that it is the government’s duty to issue a note verbale to the German government, the first step in demanding reparations according to international law. The European Parliament and the parliaments of European Union member-states will be duly informed, he added.
Seeking the damages is a “moral, political and historic obligation which the current Parliament could not but honor,” Voutsis said, adding that the demands were never forfeited and remain “active.”
The size of the reparations Greece believes it is owed is unclear but the report refers to a study by a committee of the State Audit Council which estimates the amount at between 270 and 309 billion euros. Berlin has repeatedly said that there is no issue of pending war reparations to Greece.
SYRIZA first broached the issue while in opposition and then pushed the demands on coming to power in 2015.
The fact that the report is being debated in Parliament two years after it was submitted to the House was because the government did not want to appear as if it was trying to trade off its debts to international creditors for the compensation claims, Voutsis said.
However, the timing of the move is widely seen as an attempt to boost SYRIZA’s flagging popularity ahead of elections this year.