After the seismic victory of Greece’s leftist Syriza party in national polling Sunday, the country’s new prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, is leading all of Europe down an uncertain path.
Syriza has vowed to renegotiate the crippling debts saddled on the Greek economy by European lenders — a move that some fear could threaten the unity of the eurozone. Tsipras and his allies, meanwhile, see their ascension as a historic opportunity, as WorldViews discussed here
Syriza, in particular, has been outspoken about the need for Germany to atone for its past in Greece, or at least show a bit more leniency now as compensation. Tsipras has campaigned on the issue for more than a year, including in the build-up to Sunday's election. "We are going to demand debt reduction, and the money Germany owes us from World War II, including reparations," he said earlier this month.
A 2013 study carried out by the previous Greek government of defeated Prime Minister Antonis Samaras estimated that Germany owed Greece some $200 billion for damages incurred during the Nazi occupation, the cost of rebuilding destroyed infrastructure as well as loans Nazi authorities forced Greece to pay between 1942 and 1944. The Samaras government, whose critics accused of being handmaidens to Brussels' harsh mandates, did little with the report. Another advocacy group claims that the sum owed to Greece could be as much as $677 billion.