Athens brushes off Schaeuble comments over WWII reparations [update]

Greece on Thursday responded to comments by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble who said Athens should not get distracted by the issue of war reparations from Berlin and instead focus on its economic reform program.

“The reforms being carried out in Greece bear no relation – and can bear no relation – to the issue of German reparations,” Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said in a statement adding that the Greek state has been raising the issue for many years.

“Whether this case has been resolved or not is determined by international justice, given that, by its nature, this issue concerns international law and the international justice organs,” Avramopoulos said.

“Greece is not ‘losing its focus’ on the reform policy, despite the great sacrifices the Greek people are shouldering,” he added.

In comments made to Germany’s Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung newspaper, Schaeuble said the issue of war compensations has already been “settled.”

“I deem that such statements are irresponsible. Instead of misleading the people in Greece it would be better to show them the road to reforms,” the German said.

Schaeuble was referring to a top-secret report compiled at the behest of the Finance Ministry in Athens. Leaked by To Vima newspaper on Sunday, the report suggested that Germany owes Greece 162 billion euros in World War II reparations.

According to the report experts found that Germany should pay Greece 108 billion euros for damage to infrastructure and 54 billion euros for a loan that the Nazi occupation forces obliged Greece to take in order to pay Berlin during the war.

The reparations are equivalent to about 80 percent of Greek gross domestic product.

Historical ignorance

The comments by Germany’s finance minister also drew the ire of Manols Glezos, a WWII hero and SYRIZA MP, who slammed Schaeuble as being “ignorant of history.”

“His comments are pure example of authoritarianism and ignorance of Second World War history. He is ungrateful because he does not recognize the significant contribution of the Greek people whose resistance helped consolidate democracy in Europe,” Glezos said.

“Or is he perhaps seeking revenge for this resistance? Germany should know better as it lost both wars in the end,” he said.

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