Germany owes Greece $414 billion in World War II payments: Minister

ATHENS (AFP) - Germany owes Greece more than 278 billion euros (S$414 billion) in war payments, including some 10 billion euros for a forced loan taken by Nazi occupation forces, a junior minister has told Parliament.

"According to our calculations, the debt linked to German reparations is 278.7 billion euros, including 10.3 billion for the so-called 'forced loan'," Junior Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas told the chamber on Monday.

Mr Mardas added that the relevant data had been compiled by Greece's state general accounting office.

Greece's new radical government that came to power in January says German war reparations are a "moral issue" that must still be resolved. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told German Chancellor Angela Merkel as much during a visit to Berlin last month.

Mr Tsipras' justice minister said last month that he was prepared to activate a 15-year-old Greek Supreme Court ruling that authorised the seizure of German assets in Greece to pay for wartime atrocities.

However, many experts say the dispute has effectively reached a judicial stalemate after a related adjudication between Germany and Italy by the International Court of Justice in 2012.

At the time, the United Nations' highest court ruled that Italy had broken international law by allowing its courts to hear civil compensation claims against Germany.

Berlin argues that the issue of reparations to Greece has already been settled, and points to payments made in 1960 as part of an agreement with several European governments.

And Berlin maintains that a treaty signed by the two former Germanys with the Allies in 1990 to formally end World War II effectively drew a line under possible future claims for war reparations.

Merkel in March said she saw the issue of reparations as "politically and legally resolved" but said Germans were aware "of the atrocities we committed" and took their responsibility for the crimes of the Nazis "very, very seriously".

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