The government and President Prokopis Pavlopoulos revisited the issue of German reparation and the return of the forced German occupation “loan” exacted by the Nazis, during German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s official visit to Athens today.

After a report in the German newspaper Die Welt, which said Athens is seeking 280bn euros from Berlin, Steinmeier said the issue has already been settled.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras alluded to the matter in receiving Steinmeier today, noting that the two countries must not sweep “under the rug” whatever differences remain from the distant past, and that they “should be resolved based on international law, which we all respect”.

Another apology for Nazi atrocities

Like his predecessor, Steinmeier apologised for Nazi WWII atrocities in Greece, at the meeting with Tsipras, who had touted the issue of reparations and the occupation loan at the beginning of his term and then laid it to rest until now, as his term slowly comes to a close.

Steinmeier said the two countries must not forget the past, nor overlook the guilt for these atrocities, and he agreed with Tsipras in noting that, “You rightly referred to a new chapter in the relations of the two countries.”

Pavlopoulos broached the issue directly.

“In the framework of resistance against those who, as you know, want to return to a nightmarish past [the extreme right], Greece incorporates its demands regarding the occupation loan and occupation-era reparations, which we have steadfastly viewed as legally in effect and judicially pursuable. We are not pursuing these claims unilaterally or arbitrarily. On the contrary, we view them in the framework of our common international and European legal culture. Hence, based on the rules of that culture, and of course in a competent judicial forum, each side can defend its positions,” Pavlopoulos said, in a thinly veiled call for the two countries to agree to take the issue to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.