World Bulletin / News Desk
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told visiting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that Germany will not discuss with Greece the issue of WWII reparations, which she said was resolved under past agreements.
Merkel said after meeting Tsipras in Berlin on Monday that Germany was aware of its historical responsibility for the crimes committed by the Nazi regime during the WWII and its occupation of Greece, but argued the reparations issue had been resolved and suggested further expanding cultural and academic projects to foster reconciliation between the two countries.
Merkel said at a joint press conference with Tsipras in Berlin: "From the point of view of the German Federal Government, the issue of the reparations is politically and legally closed."
She proposed strengthening the existing German‑Greek Future Fund to promote exchanges between the young generations of both countries.
- 'Totalitarian systems'
However, Greek PM Tsipras insisted that Germany owed Greece compensation due to the enforced loans, confiscations and crimes committed during the period in which the Nazi government occupied his country.
"We must enlighten the shadows of the history," Tsipras said, referring to WWII.
Greek officials claim about €162 billion ($236 billion) is due to Greece from its former occupying nation.
Tsipras argued that the Greek claim was predominantly an ethical and moral problem for Greece, rather than a material issue.
"Above all, it is important for our goal to ensure that such totalitarian systems can never come to power again," he said.
- 'Eliminate stereotypes'
Relations between crisis-hit Greece and its biggest creditor, Germany, have suffered recently from the Greek claims for reparations and the disagreements between Athens and Berlin over the bailout program for Greece.
Both Tsipras and Merkel acknowledged their differences on the reparations and conditions of the bailout program, but also tried to smooth over tensions.
"We have to eliminate the stereotypes that have developed in recent years," Tsipras said, referring to anti-German sentiment in Greece and anti-Greek sentiment in Germany.
"Neither the Greeks are lazy people, nor the Germans guilty for the grievances in Greece," he said.
Tsipras dismissed speculation that Greece may confiscate German properties in the country as compensation for the alleged WWII reparations.
He blamed previous governments, corrupt politicians and bureaucrats for the crisis in Greece and asked Germany’s assistance to solve various corruption cases related to German companies.
- 'Common ground'
Tsipras said his first official visit was not intended for him to seek fresh funds from Germany, but to discuss differences and try to build common ground.
He said Greek government would live up to its economic reform promises but would also try to promote a development agenda, which would ensure social cohesion.
Tsipras, who has been an outspoken critic of Germany's demand for economic reforms and austerity measures, is currently negotiating with European creditors for economic reforms intended to help the country pay its public debt.
The Greek government, which is entirely dependent on the European Central Bank for emergency loans, is expected to run out of funds if the next tranche of the bailout payment is not made this month.
After marathon talks in Brussels last week, Greece agreed to present to the Euro Group a more comprehensive list of economic reforms to fulfill its responsibilities under the European creditors' bailout plan.Last Mod: 24 Mart 2015, 11:20