Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Greece and the war

 Whilst it is true that Greece has to realise it cannot live beyond its means, it is difficult not to sympathise with its leaders for having to resort to "mentioning the war", and claiming multibillion-euro reparations for first and second world war atrocities. Germans may well think the demands "impertinent" especially for attacking Germany "where it is most vulnerable", but isn`t that exactly what is happening to the Greeks? Austerity has been imposed on them, any benefits from quantitative easing denied to them, and with interest rates for their debts clearly too high, further unemployment and poverty appear inevitable. Is Tsipras`s request for reparations really that unreasonable?
     The concept of compensation for war damages is emotively charged, because of its role in the rise of Nazism. This surely overestimates the role played by the demand for £6,600m in reparations, when it was actually only part of the Versailles treaty`s punishment of Germany in 1919, with the other sections, relating to huge land and population loss, disarmament, and  Article 231, the hated "war-guilt clause", having arguably more impact on the German people`s mind-set. Had the Allies insisted on nothing more than the repayments, things could well have turned out differently.
      Furthermore, Greece is in a Catch-22 situation, for there is little chance of the EU agreeing to austerity being eased while Syriza is running the country, because it would set a precedent, and electorates all over Europe would quickly get the message. That should not prevent, however, a British government from being more supportive to an old ally, especially bearing in mind Churchill`s shameful decision to turn on Greek partisans who had fought so bravely on our side, which led to the death of 28 of them, and 100s being injured, on 3 December,1944; the plan to return the Greek king to power meant arming those who had previously been supporters of Hitler!!  In the light of this, perhaps now would be an appropriate time for the Parthenon marbles to be returned to their rightful owners, especially given the huge boost the Greek tourist industry would thereby receive?

       Is it not understandable that the Greeks should resort to "increasingly desperate measures" when their future looks so grim? It`s hard to blame them for looking back, and shameful that no European poitician dares to offer them one iota of support.

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