Thursday

6th Aug 2020

Germany failed to pay WWII compensation, Greece says

Athens has accused Germany of failing to meet its World War II compensation obligations following the Nazi occupation of Greece in 1941, a claim Berlin has firmly rejected.

In a radio interview on Wednesday (24 February), Greek Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos criticised Germany's attitude towards the ongoing Greek debt crisis, adding that Athens had never received adequate war reparations.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The Venus de Milo at the Louvre museum in Paris (Photo: Rik_C)

"They took away the Greek gold that was at the Bank of Greece, they took away the Greek money and they never gave it back. This is an issue that has to be faced sometime in the future," Mr Pangalos told the BBC World Service.

"I don't say they have to give back the money necessarily but they have at least to say 'thanks'," he added.

The comments come as Greece was brought to a halt by a 24-hour general strike on Wednesday which spilled over into violent clashes, and just days after media reports of a possible German-led bail-out for Greece.

German foreign ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke dismissed the comments, adding that "a discussion about the past is not helpful at all to solve [today's] problems."

He said Germany had paid compensation to Greece of some 115 million deutsche marks by 1960 and subsequently made further payments to forced laborers of the Nazi regime.

"I'd like to mention that parallel to this, since 1960 Germany has paid around 33 billion deutsche marks in aid to Greece both bilaterally and in the context of the EU," he said. Germans received roughly one euro for every two deutsche marks when the notes changed over in 2002.

While Mr Pangalos' comments are unlikely to nurture charitable feelings inside Germany, Greek politicians have themselves voiced outrage over recent media reports inside Europe's largest economy.

A recent cover of the German weekly magazine Focus ran the title "Fraudsters Inside the Euro Family," next to an image of a Greek statue of the Venus de Milo making an obscene gesture.

Analysts said the spat could result in Germany leaving Greece to its own fate. "Greece should never have entered the euro zone because they did not qualify and they are now blackmailing other European countries via the euro," said Hans-Werner Sinn, head of Germany's IFO economic institute, reports The Telegraph.

"It's not for the EU to help Greece. We have an institution that is very experienced in bailing-out activities: the IMF," he added.

Debt concealment

Greece has come under pressure recently to explain allegations that it used complex financial products, provided by US investment banks, to conceal the true state of its debt pile over the last decade. Athens is also accused of manipulating its figures to gain entry into the eurozone in 2001.

Addressing the EU concerns, Mr Pangalos said Italy had done more to mask the true state of its finances before joining the single currency.

"You simply put some amounts of money in the next year ...it is what everybody did and Greece did it to a lesser extent than Italy for example," he said.

Greek debt is currently estimated to be roughly €300 billion, with the country's budget deficit hitting 12.7 percent of gross domestic product last year.

Independently on Wednesday, the European Commission indicated it plans to take Greece to the EU's top court to recover state aid which it says violated EU single market rules.

Top EU officials urge MEPs give quick budget-deal approval

MEPs criticised the EU deal on the budget and recovery package clinched by leaders after five days of gruelling talks, saying it is not enough "future-oriented", and cuts too deeply into EU policies, including health, innovation, defence and humanitarian aid

EU Parliament gears up for fight on budget deal

European parliament president David Sassoli said certain corrections will have to be made in the budget, citing research and the Erasmus program for students, calling the cuts "unjustified".

EU leaders agree corona recovery after epic summit

After gruelling five-day talks, EU leaders agreed on €390bn in grants and €360bn in low-interest loans to hardest-hit member states - after much opposition from the Dutch-led 'frugal' bloc of countries.

EU summit enters fourth day with recovery deadlocked

After bilateral negotiations continued all Sunday night, mostly to try to convince the 'Frugal Four' to move their red lines, European Council president Charles Michel is expected to table a new proposal on Monday afternoon with €390bn in grants.

EU leaders face off over corona bailout summit

EU leaders will face difficult and fundamental issues on Friday-Saturday (17-18 July), when they attempt to agree on the planned seven-year €1.07 trillion budget and €750bn recovery package.

EU forecasts deeper recession, amid recovery funds row

The economies of France, Italy and Spain will contract more then 10-percent this year, according to the latest forecast by the EU executive, as it urges member state governments to strike a deal on the budget and recovery package.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Rainbow flag protesters charged by Polish police
  2. An open letter to the EPP on end of Hungary's press freedom
  3. Renew Europe has a plan to combat gender-violence
  4. Why EU beats US on green pandemic recovery
  5. Azerbaijan ambassador to EU shared anti-George Floyd post
  6. Polish party roars back at EU on LGBTI fines
  7. EU: Hong Kong election delay undermines democracy
  8. Why hydrogen is no magic solution for EU Green Deal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us