Greece flags German war reparation claim

Angela Merkel lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens

Almost 2,000 police have been deployed to supervise Merkel's visit and authorities have banned demonstrations around the home of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, where the two leaders met.

Greece told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday it had grounds to pursue a legal claim for billions of euros in reparations for the Nazi occupation of the country in World War Two.

Relations between Greece and Germany have calmed since her previous visits in 2012 and 2014, which were overshadowed by angry anti-austerity rallies.

The issue of past injustices resurfaced during Greece's 2010-2018 economic bailout phase, with Germany targeted for painful cuts imposed by global creditors.

The issue had been discussed on Thursday with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Merkel added. Pavlopoulos took the opportunity to repeat Greece's demand for reparations from Germany for Nazi war crimes which, he said, "must be resolved at the competent juidicial forum on the basis of global and European cultural values".

"We are against and we demand that our country be liberated from the shackles of the European Union and the debt load", Nikos Adamopoulos, one of the leftist protesters, told Xinhua.The German leader is scheduled to hold a meeting with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and main opposition New Democracy party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday before departing from Athens.

Germany has dismissed Athens' demands in the past, but the Greek president raised the issue anew with Merkel, who is on a two-day visit. It has denied owing anything to Greece for World War Two since it paid Athens 115 million Deutschmarks in 1960.

Protesters clash with riot police during a demonstration against the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Athens on January 10, 2019.

This time, Merkel backed Tsipras's efforts to resolve a name dispute with Greece's northern neighbor, the Republic of Macedonia, which could clear that country's path to joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Before departing from Athens on Friday afternoon, Merkel also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Uknown Soldier in front of the Greek parliament and held talks with main opposition New Democracy party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Greece was forced to hand over 476 million reichsmarks, which Greek officials have estimated at £5.4 billion-£9 billion.

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