Greek MPs late Wednesday approved a proposal by a parliamentary committee for Greece to formally seek reparations from Germany for war crimes even as Berlin rejected the demands, claiming that there was no basis for reparations.
The proposal calls on the government to take “all appropriate diplomatic and legal action to demand and fully satisfy all claims of the Greek state.”
It was approved by the majority of the MPs present at the debate, although a large number was absent. The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn voted it down.
Communist Party rapporteur Thanassis Pafilis said the party had its own proposal which called on the Greek government to “immediately, directly and without delay” submit to Germany and any competent international organization a demand for compensation and reparations.
Before the vote, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared that Greece will send a note verbale to Berlin in which it will repeat its “inalienable rights” for compensation.
He said the demands would include reparations for material destruction and the dismantling of the country’s productive capabilities, compensation for victims’ relatives, the repayment of the occupation loan and the return of stolen archaeological treasures.
“The demand for German war reparations is a historical and moral debt for us,” Tsipras said, adding that it would help “build a better future” in bilateral relations. He also rejected the argument that Greece is using the claims to negotiate a reduction of its debt pile.
“This repulsive claim defines those who conceived it.”
Conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said backing the motion was “the minimum level of consensus that democratic political parties can reach on this significant historic unresolved issue.”
The occupation loan provides the strongest basis for Greece’s argument, he said, adding that the country must “build its legal case with strength and a responsible and realistic attitude.” The claim, he said, is “certainly legally open and politically feasible.”
Earlier in the day German government spokesman Steffen Seibert reiterated Berlin’s position on the issue.
“The question of German reparations has been conclusively settled, both legally and politically,” he said, adding that Germans are “aware of our historic responsibility.”