Greece to push claim for German war reparations: foreign minister

ATHENS Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:51am EDT

Greece's Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos takes part in a news conference with his Canadian counterpart John Baird (not pictured) at the Lester B. Pearson Building in Ottawa February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Greece's Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos takes part in a news conference with his Canadian counterpart John Baird (not pictured) at the Lester B. Pearson Building in Ottawa February 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Wattie

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece is planning to pursue a long-dormant claim for reparations from Germany over World War Two, a further strain on relations with Berlin, which foots most of the bill for its 240-billion euro rescue.

The Finance Ministry has compiled a report that takes stock of all relating available documents spanning more than six decades, Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos told parliament on Wednesday.

It will be submitted to Greece's legal advisers and then Athens will decide how to officially press its claim, he said.

Avramopoulos did not say how much would be sought.

"We will exhaust every means available to arrive to a result," he told lawmakers. "One can't compare the times, but also not erase the memories."

Germany, whose forces occupied Greece in World War Two, says it has already paid all reparations owed.

The issue has resurfaced since last year as Greece suffers under austerity measures imposed on it by its creditors, mainly Germany, as a condition for its international EU/IMF bailout.

Avramopoulos said it was wrong to link the issue to the debt crisis.

"This has been an open issue for 60 years, it is too large an issue to fit into the confines of the fiscal crisis," he said.

Greece's fragile coalition government has so far earned praise from Chancellor Angela Merkel for starting to fix Greece's finances.

But conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was pushed to raise the reparation issue by the main opposition, anti-bailout Syriza party.

(Reporting by Harry Papachristou; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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