Resolution of the Reparations Issue

ATHENS/BERLIN (Own report) – The Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras has announced a new initiative to force Germany to pay reparations and compensations to Greece. During a memorial service for the victims of a massacre committed by the German Wehrmacht in the western Greek village of Kommeno, on Tuesday, Tsipras declared that, should the Germany government persist in refusing to pay reparations, Athens will seek “through diplomatic channels – and if necessary at the judicial level – ” to take action against Berlin. In early September, the Greek parliament is scheduled to discuss a recently completed report quantifying the German reparations debt at 269 billion Euros. German government assertions that the reparations issue has been “closed” are unfounded. In fact, payment of the binding 1946 reparations sum, recognized by the London Debt Agreement of February 1953, had been deferred, but not annulled. Only a fraction of it has been paid. As confirmed by Horst Teltschik, former advisor to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Bonn had sought to evade its reparations obligations by explicitly not qualifying the 2 + 4 Treaty a “Peace Treaty.” It had been feared that, with a peace treaty, suddenly “reparations demands from over 50 countries would land on the table,” Teltschik explained.

If Necessary, at the Judicial Level

The Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, has announced a new initiative to force German reparations and compensations payments to Greece for crimes committed during the World War II German occupation of that country. Tsipras reiterated that his government would do “everything necessary” to impose reparations – “at the diplomatic, and, if necessary, at the judicial level.”[1] He made this announcement in the course of a memorial service for the victims of a massacre committed by the German Wehrmacht on August 16, 1943 in the western Greek village of Kommeno. Within a few hours, 317 defenseless civilians aged from one year old to 90, where abruptly awakened and murdered by the German occupiers. Referring to the Greek parliamentary committee’s final report, completed in late July, the Prime Minister explained that this represents the first time that a “national strategy” for dealing with the issue of reparations and compensation payments exists, and is scheduled to be debated officially in parliament at the beginning of September.

269 Billion Euros

To The Hague and the UN

Berlin’s Double Strategy

Since some time, Berlin has been responding to Athens’ demands for reparations with a sort of double strategy. On the one hand, Germany claims that there is no legal basis for reparations. The case is “closed.” On the other, Berlin offers cheap concessions, from its cultural policies abroad reserves, destined to strangle any further reparations demands. Thus for example, the German government is officially promoting the German-Greek Future Fund – which began functioning September 12, 2014, during a visit of Greek President Karolos Papoulias – as “serving reconciliation and historical analysis between Germany and Greece.”[4] This project does not cost 269 billion Euros, but rather annually a million, only the smallest fraction of which actually reaches the victims and their descendents. However, selected historical projects are supposed to give the impression that finally Germany’s historical crimes will be comprehensively dealt with. Projects, such as these, are usually administered in the context of cultural policy abroad, not only for the purpose of promoting the image of an alleged “reflective” Germany, but primarily to stave off reparations demands – at the expense of the victims of the Nazis.

Confirmed, then Postponed

Demands from 50 Countries

Throughout the cold war period, the Federal Republic of Germany had turned down demands for the payment of reparations, using the London Debt Agreement as reference, and declaring that reparations claims can only be negotiated after the “reunification” with the German Democratic Republic and the ensuing finalization of a peace treaty. However, Bonn has deliberately qualified the 2 + 4 Treaty, signed September 12, 1990, not as a peace treaty, “not least of all, because of the risk of reparation demands,” as former Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s advisor Horst Teltschik explained in March 2015. “Not only Greece” could be demanding reparations. “As is known, the Nazi regime was at war with over 50 countries around the world. … Just imagine, in the context of a peace treaty, we would have had reparations demands from over 50 countries on the table.”[7] That is what had to be avoided. However thereby, the “final … settlement of the reparations issue,” stipulated in the London Debt Agreement, which for decades the Federal German government made conditional on a formal peace treaty, was simply postponed further into the future. Should the Greek government carry out Prime Minister Tsipras’ announcement, it would now be placed on the agenda.

More on this topic see: Legacy without a Future.

Full article: Resolution of the Reparations Issue (German Foreign Policy)

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