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Greece, Germany Spat over WWII Reparations Deepens

CNBC.com and Wires
Friday, 26 Feb 2010 | 8:35 AM ET

The public spat between Greece and Germany over the issue of World War II reparations deepened Friday, when Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou backed up his deputy's earlier claims by saying that the issue was still "open."

Aris Messinis | AFP | Getty Images

In a sign that the dispute resonates beyond political statements, a Greek consumer group called for a boycott of German goods, according to various news reports.

Papandreou said doubts over whether Germany had fully compensated Greece for the occupation during the war would not be addressed while the debt-laden country struggled to find a solution to its deficit problems, the Associated Press reported.

The comments come in the wake of Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos' statement earlier in the week to the BBC World Service that Germany still owes Greece damages.

"They took away the Greek gold that was at the Bank of Greece, they took away the Greek money and they never gave it back. This is an issue that has to be faced sometime in the future," Pangalos told the BBC, quoted by Reuters.

"I don't say they have to give back the money necessarily but they have at least to say 'thanks'," he added.

Germany denied these allegations.

Greek consumer group INKA called for a boycott of German goods, adding fuel to the fire of the growing public debate, according to Reuters. The move from INKA is in reaction to the latest issue of German magazine Focus, which showed a picture of the Venus de Milo on its cover making an obscene finger gesture, Reuters reported.

The Focus cover ran with the slogan "Cheats in the euro family," referring to the reliability of Greece's public accounts, and has caused outrage within Greece for its treatment of the much-loved statue, the report said.

Whether the claims on WWII reparations have any legal ground remains to be seen, but experts agree that Greece is in a delicate position to be rocking the European boat.

"The Greek government should distribute 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' because that's really what the protesters on the street need and clearly what some members of the cabinet need, too," Marshall Gittler, chief strategist – international at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management, told CNBC Thursday.

"Right now you just shouldn't say things like that," he said.

Contact Europe: Economy

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