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Will Germany keep its cool in the Public Relation Battle with Greece?
Dialogue with the Alter Ego on Greece’s reparation claims against Germany, first drafted on March 12,
published on March 15, 2015

Question by Alter Ego of Noah denkt™ (AE): On March 11, 2015 the Greek justice minister, Nikos
Paraskevopoulos, declared that he was ready to approve a Supreme Court ruling which would have Greece
seize German state-owned property in his country
if Germany continues to reject Greece’s war reparation
claims. The same day the German government reaffirmed its earlier position according to which all war time
reparation demands against Germany have ceased to bear legal merit with the international treaty on the
reunification of Germany. In legal terms, this issue is effectively in a stalemate after the International Court of
Justice ruled that no national court can have jurisdiction over the imposition of wartime reparations. The
standoff between Greece and Germany is therefore likely to continue and to get worse. Does Noah denkt™
agree with its Alter Ego that the continued singling out of Germany by the Greek government poses a
considerable risk for the stability of the European Union? After all, it is by no means clear whether Germany will
be able to keep its current calm and collected composure if Greece chooses to continue to nag Germany for its
Nazi past.

Answer by Noah denkt™ (Nd):  We absolutely share the concern of our Alter Ego in this.  And we do so for
three reasons: a) because Germany cannot at all be sure that it will win the PR battle against Greece in the
court of international public opinion
(some international reactions have been highlighted on @NoahDenkt)  ; b) because
Germany’s mainstream is so blissfully ignorant about the uphill PR struggle its country will probably face in that
court of international, public opinion, and c) because history hasn't allowed Germany to develop the same
sense of confidence and restrain that is so prevalent in the British mentality. In other words, it’s entirely
possible that Germany will eventually lose the level-headed poise which it manages to maintain up until now.  
And one has to presume that the Greek government will have an intuitive knowledge of that. Hence, it will be
just as apt in pushing the right provocative buttons as Marco Materazzi was when he got Zinedine Zidane
expelled from the 2006 World Cup final.

AE: Why is Germany’s public opinion so unaware of the diplomatic PR challenge it may face in the international

Nd: Because Germans tend to believe that a page has truly been turned on Germany’s past, that our
neighbors meanwhile view us as just another equal and fellow partner and that being German no longer carries
the self-conscious baggage, it used to. But, obviously, that isn't true and will probably never be so.  Imagine
therefore, how hurt and bruised Germany’s public opinion will react if to its surprise it should find out that our
EU partners are a lot less cool on Greece’s reparation demands than Germany would have thought they were?

AE: And why doesn't Germany have the same culture of restrain and levelheaded excellence that Britain is so
famous for?

Nd: This is due to the fact that the creation of Germany in 1871 was seen with little benevolence by its
neighbors. They may have acquiesced to the fusion of one major power (Prussia) with two other second-tier
powers (Bavaria and Wurttemberg), but deep down they felt that this unified Germany would unduly upend the
delicate balance of power in Europe. Germany therefore felt uneasy about itself from the first day of its
existence. That is why it ever so often opted for an extreme and violent nationalism; and that is also why we
cannot be sure at all that it will be able to maintain its calm under serious pressure.

AE: What then is your advice to the German government? How should it respond to Greece’s irritating claims?

Nd: Germany’s government must at all cost maintain its current poise, i.e. be somewhat comprehensive towards
and compassionate with the plight of the Greek people but reject the reparation claims. Clearly, it will be
extremely difficult to maintain that soft-spoken approach, if Greece should up the ante by seizing German
property in Greece. But even in this case a calm British attitude towards Greece must be kept at all times.
Perhaps, it would help in a situation of heightened tension to soothe public outrage in Germany, if the
government were to adopt the following rhetorical stance:  “Obviously, the violation of German property rights
by the Greek government is unlawful. And we are confident that the courts will sustain our views on this.  
Generally speaking, however, these recent transgressions by the Greek government must be viewed and
understood as the expression of an exhausted people that is simply overwhelmed by the challenge it
constitutes to have a first-league currency.  It would certainly have a healing effect on the Greek soul if the
burden of having to live up to EURO standards were lifted off of it. However, Germany cannot make that
decision for them.  After all, Germany has its hands full to manage its own difficult reputation in Europe. That is
why we cannot yet again play the role of the bad boy in this matter but must leave it to others to see the light on
the Greek EURO membership.”
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Germany's PR problem in Europe, war time reparation claims against Germany,
Greece reiterates its wartime reparation claims against Germany, Greece
threatens to seize German property in Greece, Germany's fickle self-confidence,
Germany's PR battle with Greece