Tension with Berlin peaks over war reparation claims, jibes

Tensions peaked between Greece and Germany on Wednesday after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras renewed Greek demands for war reparations from Berlin for Nazi war crimes and statements by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble were perceived by authorities in Athens as offensive.

Sources said that the Greek Foreign Ministry had lodged an official complaint with Germany’s Foreign Ministry in protest at comments by Schaeuble after Monday’s Eurogroup. The complaint was said to be prompted by the phrase “foolishly naive” which was attributed to Schaeuble. However in a video of Schaeuble’s comments to German reporters after the Eurogroup, which did the rounds of the Greek media, the German official can be heard saying that he had discussed bad coverage of developments by some media but that Germans were far from thinking that Varoufakis was “suddenly naive” in matters of communication.

Athens was also said to be annoyed at the terse rection from the German government to new Greek demands for war reparations from Germany. In particular, Greek diplomats were said to be irked by a statement by a spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry which suggested that Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias did not broach the issue of war reparations during his recent visit to Berlin. The spokesman for Greece’s foreign ministry, Constantinos Koutras, said he understood that Kotzias had indeed raised the issue of war reparations during his visit to Berlin on February 10.

There was exasperation in Germany too with Bavarian conservative Hans Michelbach responding to suggestions by Greek Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos that German assets in Greece could be seized.

“If it came to Greek violations of German property, Germany would know how to defend itself,” he said.

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