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Greece Scours Archives to Seek Reparations for Nazi War Crimes

Greece appointed a panel to scour historical archives to determine whether Germany might still owe money in reparations for Nazi war crimes.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 9/12/2012, 6:07 PM

Greece's Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras (L) and his deputy Christos Staikouras
Greece's Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras (L) and his deputy Christos Staikouras
Reuters

The Greek government has appointed a panel to scour historical archives and determine whether Germany might still owe Greece money in outstanding reparations for Nazi war crimes committed during World War II, the finance ministry announced Monday.   

Christos Staikouras, a deputy finance minister, signed a decision on Monday appointing four members of the State Audit Council to search the historical archives “in relation to German reparations” and to issue a verdict by the end of the year. 

Greece has claimed that it reserves the right to claim reparations worth an estimated $7.5 million (5.87 million euros), saying it was forced to accept unfavorable terms during negotiations in the 1950s, AFP reported.

"The matter remains pending," said Staikouras. "Greece has never resigned its rights."  

Nonetheless, he called for a "realistic and cool-headed" approach to issue, which could further sour relations between Germany and Greece.  

Even if there is a legitimate basis for the Greek claims, it is doubtful whether the reparations will be paid. It could also be a risky move at a time when Greece is heavily dependent on the goodwill of its European partners

“It’s a very clumsy move, probably the clumsiest since the crisis broke,” said Takis Michas, an analyst, according to The New York Times.

He added that the initiative would simply “annoy Germany and suggest that Greece is not willing to push reforms.”

Greece has been given international credit lifelines, first for 110 billion euros in May 2010 and then for 130 billion euros earlier this year, plus a 107-billion-euro private debt write-off.

Germany has been the largest single donor to Greece's bailout packages.