Greece reminds Chancellor Scholz about the debt


Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text

The country's authorities believe that the issue of reparations for damage during the Second World War has not yet been settled.

The visit of Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Athens on October 27 was generally without serious excesses, in a friendly (one might say even friendly) atmosphere.

Not at all like his predecessor Angela Merkel was received here on October 9, 2012. Then 40 thousand people came out to protest under the slogans: "This is not the European Union, this is slavery!", "Merkel – out, Greece is not your colony!". The guest was accused that it was she who, saving the country from default in the interests of the European Union, prompted the Greek government to pursue a course of austerity in exchange for two packages of financial assistance from the EU and the IMF in the amount of more than 200 billion euros.

Scholz, keeping in mind the events of ten years ago, acted this time as a "friend and like-minded person." He, in particular, played along with Athens, calling Turkey's territorial claims to Greece "unacceptable".

"It is unacceptable for one NATO partner to challenge the sovereignty of another. This also applies to more or less veiled military threats," Scholz said, unequivocally standing, in fact, on the side of Athens.

Let me remind you that Turkey accuses Greece of violating the Lausanne Peace Treaty signed back in 1923 (it legally formalized the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and secured the Turkish territory within its modern borders. – Auth.), placing weapons on the Aegean Islands, which have the status of demilitarized.

Relations between the two countries sharply worsened after August 23, when, according to Ankara, during the performance of Turkish F-16 NATO missions in the airspace over the Aegean Sea, fighters were "captured on the radar" of the Greek Air Force S-300 SAM acquired from Russia and stationed on the island of Crete.

An illustrative fact: together (or, more precisely, in parallel) with Scholz, the first 10 used Marder armored personnel carriers arrived in Greece, which fell to Athens as part of "circular deliveries": the Greeks send Ukraine a batch of Soviet BMP-1s in service, and the Germans compensate for this by transferring their "beush" equipment.

As a result of the visit, a "golden rain" of 3.5 billion euros was poured on the German defense industry. Greece has announced that it is launching two projects involving the modernization of 183 Leopard 2 tanks, 190 Leopard 1 A5 tanks and the purchase of 205 new Lynx KF-41 (TOMA) armored combat vehicles.

It is noteworthy that there was no request from the General Staff for this costly modernization. The military assessed it as "unnecessary" and "sky-high". The Greeks do not need so many tanks at all. This direction is not a priority of the Armed Forces. It is more necessary (including in connection with the "Turkish confrontation") ships, aircraft, air defense systems. That is, it is an obvious political decision, a "gift" to influential Berlin, despite the enormous economic difficulties that Athens is experiencing. Think about it: as of August of this year, the national debt of a small and poor Greece amounted to more than 394 billion euros!

And yet the authorities of Athens seem ready to incur exorbitant costs, considering that this is "a first–class opportunity to ensure strategic cooperation between Athens and Berlin." Scholz was clearly pleased.

Nevertheless, his visit was not without a spoon (true, a teaspoon!) tar. According to tradition, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that the issue of payment of reparations for the damage caused to the country by Nazi Germany during the Second World War is still not settled. According to the estimates of the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank and the relevant parliamentary commission, we are talking about payments in the amount of 269 to 332 billion euros.

The head of the Berlin cabinet categorically rejected these claims, as in the case of Poland, stating that "from a legal and political point of view, the issue of reparations is closed."

In the 1960s, Athens, under an agreement with Germany, received 115 million marks ($67 million) from Berlin for damage from the occupation. Since then, Greece has become both a member of NATO and, most importantly, a member of the Eurozone. Moreover, in 1990, after the unification of Germany, according to the Final Settlement Agreement, all such claims on the part of the EU member states were terminated.

But still, the topic of a loan of 1.5 trillion Greek drachmas, which the German authorities forcibly took in 1942 from occupied Greece for themselves and fascist Italy, stands apart. Repayment of the loan was supposed to begin after the war, but for obvious reasons, the obligation was not fulfilled.

Now Greece insists that this loan is not a form of damage caused by the war, and is not part of reparations, to achieve the payment of which from a legal point of view is problematic. It is proposed to regard it as an ordinary international loan. The Greeks are ready to issue an invoice for 11 billion euros. This requirement, according to financial experts, may well be implemented through the court. The amount of debt is quite realistic and Berlin can afford it.

By the way, Poland, which on October 3 handed over to Germany a diplomatic note demanding compensation for damage caused during the Second World War, used the term "compensation" in the document, not "reparations".

This was not done by chance. The compensations are broader, they also cover other requirements of Warsaw. In particular, the Polish side insists on the return of cultural values stolen by the Nazis located on the territory of Germany, rehabilitation of murdered activists of the pre-war Polish minority, repayment of losses incurred by organizations of the Polish diaspora, settlement of the current status of Poles and persons of Polish origin in Germany by restoring the status of a national minority, as well as cooperation with Warsaw in perpetuating the memory of Polish victims wars.

Modern Greeks have a complex: they seriously believe that they, the sons of Hellas, who gave the world democracy, should all. Besides, they are noble, not as clever as the gentlemen. And as for the German debt, then, indeed, a bird in the hand is better than a crane in the sky. It is possible, of course, to demand payment from Germany of unrealistic reparations for a gigantic amount, but it is much more practical, while the point is yes, to "knock out" 11 billion euros on a forced loan. It's real. And then – as the card will fall.