Greece’s prime minister has demanded Germany pay back more than €160bn (£112bn) in Second World War reparations as his country is squeezed by creditors to overhaul its economy in return for vital bail-out funds.
In an emotive address to his parliament, Alexis Tsipras said his government had a “duty to history, to the people who fought and to the victims who gave their lives to defeat Nazism.”
The Leftist government maintains it is owed more than €162bn – nearly half the value of its total public debt – for the destruction wrought during the Nazi occupation of Greece.
“The government will work in order to honour fully its obligations. But, at the same time, it will work so that all of the unfulfilled obligations to Greece and the Greek people are met,” said Mr Tsipras on Tuesday at a parliamentary debate on the creation of a reparations committee.
Syriza’s leader added the atrocities of the Nazi occupation remained “fresh in the memory” of Greek people and “must be preserved in the younger generations.”
Greece’s demand for reparations centres on a war loan of 476m Reichsmarks the Greek central bank was forced to make to the Nazis. Athens is also calling for wider compensation for the destruction and suffering caused by the occupation.
The country’s justice minister went further, threatening the seizure of German assets in order to compensate the relatives of Nazi war crimes.
Nikos Paraskevopoulos told Greek television he was willing to back a supreme court ruling which would lead to the foreclosure of German assets in Greece.