The Greek Finance Ministry is setting up a working group to determine how much Germany might owe the Mediterranean nation in reparations from World War II. The move is unlikely to improve already strained relations between the two countries. Greek Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said:
The German reparations are a particularly complex legal issue and subject to study and settlement at an international level in accordance with the rules of international law,
The case is still outstanding, and as a country we reserve the right and the possibility to manage it to a satisfactory conclusion.
Germany has already paid WWII reparations to Greece and other countries, though as noted over at Bloomberg the German Constitutional Court has ruled that Germany does not have to pay reparations to individuals.
With the Greek government struggling to meet the conditions necessary for future bailout installments it is not surprising that some new and imaginative measures are being explored in order to raise some cash. One might think a less delicate proposal could have been suggested.
Even with the reparations that could be owed the Greek government would still have to implement serious reforms. It is estimated that Germany could owe Greece 7.5 billion euros and perhaps as much as 70 billion euros.
It is not clear that the Greek government would receive all of the reparations even were the Germans to agree to pay. Although some of the reparations being examined deal with loans the Greeks were forced to hand over to Germany, past German reparations for WWII took many different forms and would not necessarily help the Greek government meet austerity targets.
Germany has been the source of much Greek animosity recently. As one of the most influential donors to the European bailouts Germany has been blamed for much of the austerity being inflicted on Greece. Quite why some Greek officials seem to think seeking WWII reparations will help matters is anyone's guess.