Kotzias rebuffed in Berlin over WWII reparations

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias repeated the new Greek government’s claim for war reparations from Germany Tuesday during a joint news conference with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin.

Speaking in fluent German, Kotzias said he had brought with him the section of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s speech last Sunday broaching the issue. During an address setting out his government’s policy program, the Greek premier had said it was a moral obligation for Greece to seek war reparations and the return of a forced loan given to the Nazis by Greece’s central bank. Steinmeier responded that Germany was fully aware of the “terrible events in Greece in the period from 1941 to 1944” and that it bore political and moral responsibility for them. He added, however, that German authorities had not changed their opinion that all reparations issues, including forced loans, “have been legally settled conclusively.”

Steinmeier added that he was awaiting “specific proposals” from Greece in the coming days regarding the continuation, or not, of the country’s aid program, noting that the outcome of Greek elections should be respected but so should Greece’s agreements with its partners.

Separately, Tsipras spoke by telephone Tuesday with his counterpart in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Nikola Gruevksi, sources said. There were no details about the content of the conversation between the two leaders. However, a dispute between the two countries regarding the Balkan country’s official name remains unresolved.