ATHENS/BERLIN | | griechenland

ATHENS/BERLIN (Own report) - Athens has formally requested reparations negotiations with Berlin for the devastation the German occupiers had inflicted on Greece during World War II. The Greek Ambassador handed over a confidential note verbale to the competent authorities in Berlin, confirmed the German foreign ministry, yesterday. According to a Greek parliamentary commission, the reparations debt amounts to €288 billion, at current value. The German government categorically rejects payments. As a spokesperson for the German foreign ministry confirmed, "the issue has been settled legally and politically." For a long time, the Federal Republic of Germany has, in fact, linked its reparation obligations, stipulated in a 1946 Agreement, to a peace treaty concluded sometime in the future. When the issue arose in 1990, Germany concluded the Two-Plus-Four-Agreement "instead of" a peace treaty and unilaterally declared the "reparations issue … settled." Internal documents from 1990 expose Bonn's bag of tricks. more…

BERLIN/ATHENS/SKOPJE | | griechenlandmazedonien

BERLIN/ATHENS/SKOPJE (Own report) - With her visit to Athens, beginning tomorrow, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is continuing a series of unprecedented interference by NATO and EU members into the domestic affairs of two Southeast European countries - this time in a dispute over a name between Greece and Macedonia. Because of Greek objections, Macedonia is known internationally as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). In line with a June 17, 2018 agreement, the country is to change its name to North Macedonia. Because the renaming is a prerequisite for the country's admission to NATO and its negotiations for EU membership, the NATO war alliance and the European Union are urging that the name change process be sped up. This is also the reason behind Merkel's talks in Athens. The West is exerting massive pressure, and justifying renaming the country with allegations of Russian interference. The renaming is in violation of the Macedonia's referendum results and is dependent upon the votes of the opposition in the Macedonian parliament's forthcoming final vote. Corrupt methods are obviously inducing members of the opposition to vote in favor of changing the name. more…

BERLIN/ATHENS/WARSAW | | griechenlandpolen

BERLIN/ATHENS/WARSAW (Own report) - In reference to Greece and Poland's new demands for reparations for Germany's World War II mass crimes, the German government has reconfirmed its blockade on compensations. Berlin maintains that there are no legal grounds for Athens and Warsaw's demands. No reparations will be paid. A parliamentary commission in Greece has estimated that the material damages inflicted during German occupation between 1941 and 1944, amount to €288 billion. The Polish parliament has estimated the destruction caused by the reign of terror during Nazi occupation is at €840 billion. Athens intends to take initial steps before the end of the year to force German government compliance. Germany, in fact, has successfully avoided honoring any of the compensation claims, by using legal finesse and political pressure. At the same time, German authorities are participating in unofficial memorial ceremonies for the victims of the Nazi reign of terror, ostentatiously begging "forgiveness" from the victims - free of charge. more…

ATHENS/BERLIN | | griechenland

ATHENS/BERLIN (Own report) - Just before Greece’s third crisis program expires, German economists are skeptical about the country’s future prospects and are calling for more deregulation measures. Athens did "not use the crisis as an opportunity," the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) notes in its recent analysis. This is why the gross value added of Greek private businesses remains too low to reach a higher economic growth. The DIW regrets that when the crisis program ends, so will the "reform pressure." The German "reform pressure" on Greece has, in fact, ruined the country’s economy and increased public debt by 50 percent - to 180 percent of the GDP-, created mass unemployment and forced hundreds of thousands to emigrate in search for employment. In the end, even the IMF has rejected the German austerity policy, and US media note that Greece is stuck "in the worst collapse a rich country has ever gone through." more…

ATHENS/BERLIN | | griechenland

ATHENS/BERLIN (Own report) - Following yesterday’s euro zone finance ministers’ approval of a new austerity dictate for Athens, the Greek population will be confronted with more measures exacerbating impoverishment. The measures agreed upon late last week by the Greek government, relevant EU institutions and the IMF include the expansion of evictions. Critics are warning of an increase in homelessness. At the same time, the sale of state-owned property continues with plans to sell off four power plants. Unions have announced plans to strike in protest, but they cannot be sure that they will be allowed to carry through, because their right to strike has been severely restricted due to pressure from Brussels. Alleged initial successes, such as a slight decrease in unemployment, turns out to be a sham, because it is based on a dramatic increase in particularly low-paid part-time jobs, which do nothing to reduce poverty, but, on the contrary, consolidate it, in the long run. more…

BERLIN/ATHENS/BELGRADE/BEIJING | | griechenlandjugoslawien

BERLIN/ATHENS/BELGRADE/BEIJING (Own report) - Berlin's austerity dictate, ruthlessly imposed on Athens, is suffering its first blowbacks, weakening German hegemony over the EU. The China Ocean Shipping Company's (COSCO) purchase of stakes in the Piraeus Port Authority, Athens had been forced to sell under pressure from Berlin and Brussels, is one example. COSCO, which had already acquired a small share in 2009, has been upgrading the port with investments in the three-digit millions. In the meantime, Piraeus has become Europe's eighth largest port and is among the top 40 worldwide. Greece, which economically has been completely ruined by the austerity dictates, is hoping for more Chinese investments - and is no longer willing to participate in the EU's routine official condemnation of China at the UN Human Rights Council. A similar development can be seen with Serbia. As part of its "Silk Road" initiative, China is planning to upgrade the rail line between Belgrade and Budapest. For the Serbian government, this offers hopes for a long term recovery. Brussels has now launched a probe into this project. According to experts, a policy based solely on austerity dictates and open pressure, as has been pursued by Berlin and the EU, can no longer be successful "in a multi-polar world." more…

ATHENS/BERLIN | | griechenland

ATHENS/BERLIN (Own report) - Through loans and government bonds, Germany is reaping a billion euros in profits from Greece's debt crisis. The German government has confirmed that profits from financial transactions with Greece have already reached €1.34 billion. German firms have also profited from the fact that, due to the crisis, Greece has been forced to sell government property. In a joint venture, just recently, a German investor bought the majority of shares of Greece's Thessaloniki Port Authority - in cooperation with a fabulously rich Greek oligarch. At the same time, the German discounter Lidl was able to increase its market shares in competition with its Greek supermarket rivals because growing poverty is forcing people to buy low-priced groceries. Mass emigration, particularly that of highly qualified Greeks, is generating little noticed profits. Many Greeks, whose expensive education was paid by Athens, now work in Germany - placing their skills, for which Germany has not paid a cent, at Germany's disposal. more…

BERLIN/ATHENS | | griechenland

BERLIN/ATHENS (Own report) - The German Fraport Company is preparing, under very strong protests from Greek trade unionists, to take over the operation and management of 14 of Greece's airports. The concessions, which Fraport was awarded back in late 2015, will entrust the German company with the operational and management functioning of Greece's most profitable regional airports - for a duration of 40 years. Annual profits are estimated to begin at 90 million Euros. The Greek state with retain 23 regional airports, including several that are in acute deficit, but must still be expensively maintained, as links between remote islands and the Greek mainland. One of the most powerful Greek oligarchs has a share not only in Fraport's profits from the current takeover, but has for years been involved in operating the Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg. Fraport is one of the few German companies still investing in Greece. Many others are withdrawing from the country. The country's crisis had led to a massive reduction in consumption, which does not permit attractive profits. The most important exception to this rule is the tourism sector, from which the Fraport airports can make profits in processing vacation flights. more…

THESSALONIKI/BERLIN/FLORENCE | | griechenlanditalien

THESSALONIKI/BERLIN/FLORENCE (Own report) - When the German foreign minister appeared in the synagogue in Thessaloniki (Greece), he was met with strong protest from prominent members of the Jewish community. In his speech at the synagogue on December 4, (published by the German Foreign Ministry) Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) praised "our German hands to be used in the life of your community" - after Jewish life was eradicated under the Nazis. In his historical reflections, the German foreign minister alluded to the more than 50,000 Jewish Greeks, who, in 1943, had been forced to buy "Reichsbahn" tickets to Auschwitz, where they were murdered upon arrival. He did not utter a single word about the German receipts (89 million Euros) from those trips taking them to their death, or about Berlin's refusal to pay its debts. Neither did Steinmeier mention the reimbursement of the several million Euros in racist "ransoms" as the Jewish community demands. Prominent Jewish Greeks were outraged because Berlin's foreign policy is obviously undermining the legal claims of Nazi victims with moralist avowals and non-committal monetary hand-outs. Protests were also raised against Steinmeier's being offered "honorary membership" in Thessaloniki's synagogue. Steinmeier made similar appearances in relationship to Italian victims of Nazi mass crimes. more…

ATHENS/BERLIN | | griechenland

ATHENS/BERLIN (Own report) - The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has once again sharply criticized the EU for its policy of warding off refugees. In view of the disastrous living conditions for the refugees on the Greek islands, it is urgent to at least bring a larger number of them onto the Greek mainland und finally begin to relocate them to other EU countries in accordance with these countries pledges, a UNHCR representative demanded in Athens. Berlin rejects this. The German government is demanding, on the contrary, that refugees be transported from the Greek islands back to Turkey and to resume the "Dublin III" deportations from Germany to Greece. The Athens asylum authorities' legal misgivings that Turkey, by no means, is a "safe third country," do not induce Berlin to change its course. Neither do current reports by human rights organizations, showing that hundreds of unaccompanied refugee minors are being held in camps, in violation of international norms, and some in police jail cells, often under desolate hygienic conditions. While Berlin is increasing pressure to deport, the number of refugees that have drowned, trying to cross the Mediterranean has set new records. more…