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Greece seeks 279 billion euros from Germany

April 7, 2015

Athens has said Germany should pay nearly 279 billion euros in compensation for the Nazi occupation of the country. The claim comes as Greece faces demands from the IMF to introduce more pension cuts and raise taxes.

Gold coins balanced with a Greek flag
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Ohlenschläger

Greece demanded 278.7 billion euros ($304.74) from Germany as compensation for damages it incurred during World War Two, Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas told a parliamentary committee on Monday.

According to calculations by Greece's General Accounting Office, reparations amounted to 278.7 billion euros, a sum which a parliamentary panel set up by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was trying to claim from Germany.

This is the first time the Greek government quantified its claims, which included seeking war reparations and a so-called occupation loan that Nazi Germany forced the Bank of Greece to make. Athens also demanded that Berlin return its stolen archaeological treasures.

Germany has rejected Athens' demands, saying it settled the matter with a general compensation payment of 115 million deutschmarks in 1960. However, the issue continues to mar Greek-German relations and has gained more momentum amid Greece's economic crisis and its government's refusal to implement austerity measures.

Athens to honor deals with debtors

Debtors had been concerned after speculation that Athens may default on its repayment of 450 million euros, due on April 9. But IMF chief Christine Lagarde announced that Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had confirmed his country would pay back the money. Varoufakis also said his country would try to seal an initial deal with the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund by April 24.

Alexis Tsipras
Alexis Tsipras is traveling to Moscow to meet President Vladimir PutinImage: Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis

Greece's finance ministry has said the IMF is demanding that the government introduce more pension cuts and hike VAT as part of its reforms. Prime Minister Tsipras and his Syriza party, however, say they worry that such a cut may impact their voter base - voters who put Syriza in charge because of the party's opposition to austerity measures.

European Union countries have also expressed concern about rumors that Tsipras may look for help from Russia, which he is scheduled to visit on April 8.

Finance Minister Varoufakis has assured critics that his country's woes could only be solved within the "European family" and that discussions with Moscow will focus only on bilateral trade and investment.

mg/gsw (Reuters, dpa, AFP)