Prokopios Pavlopoulos: Greece’s WWII claims from Germany ‘legally active and judicially enforceable’
Greece‘s demands from Germany in connection with a forced WWII occupation loan and war reparations dating back to the Nazi occupation are “legally active and judicially enforceable,” President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos said on Thursday, in his address at an official dinner held in honour of visiting German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Budenbender.
Pavlopoulos said that Greece’s demands were not unilateral or arbitrary but made in the context of a shared international and European legal culture, on the basis of which every side is free to support its positions before a jurisdictional forum.
Welcoming the German presidential couple as “true friends of Greece”, however, he said Steinmeier had actively demonstrated his support for Greece during the difficult years of the memorandum programmes, making decisive contributions in the often thorny negotiations of that period.
“We Greeks will never forget that you were a champion of the position that, as Greece cannot conceive of its future outside the European Union and the European edifice, so present-day Europe would be inconceivable without Greece in its ranks,” the Greek president said.
Noting that they shared the same vision with Steinmeier for the future of Europe, which he said must proceed toward unification, Pavlopoulos said the EU has an obligation to play its own global role that boils down to a defence of the principles and values of humanism, peace, democracy, fundamental human rights and justice, especially social justice.
Stressing that Greeks shared this vision and were ready to contribute in this direction to the degree that they could, Pavlopoulos noted the need to act swiftly since the situation in Europe and beyond did not allow complacency.
In view of the upcoming European elections, he urged a need to “decide our European priorities” and especially the urgent need for initiatives to strengthen the pillar of a joint EU foreign and security policy.
The president also noted a need for solidarity within the EU, in accordance with its history and culture, and especially in tackling the refugee and migration crisis, which he described as “existential” for the EU.
Finally, Pavlopoulos urged all to consider the very negative impact on the social state of justice of what he called “mistaken economic policies of a pointless and dead-end austerity” pursued in many EU member-states: “This priority today takes on even greater importance, as it becomes clear that the trials of the social state of law and the dangers to social cohesion leave a clear field of action for ruthless forms of populism, that openly undermine democracy itself and fundamental human rights, while directly threatening the European edifice. We must act at once, before it is too late, therefore before the next European elections,” he said.