Germany rejects reparations call from Namibia

At parliamentary question time, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas acknowledged that over the years, there had been calls for reparations from countries including Greece and Poland over Nazi-era massacres.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at a press conference on 28 May 2021 in Berlin, announcing for the first time that Germany recognised it had committed genocide in Namibia during its colonial occupation. Picture: Tobias SCHWARZ/POOL/AFP

BERLIN - Germany on Wednesday rejected calls for reparations from Namibians over colonial-era killings that Berlin has recognised as genocide, saying the 1.1 billion-euro financial aid it was offering was on a "voluntary basis".

At parliamentary question time, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas acknowledged that over the years, there had been calls for reparations from countries including Greece and Poland over Nazi-era massacres.

"But one must say that that has nothing to do with this case before us. Because this agreement is exclusively on a voluntary basis, there are no legal grounds on which this payment is made or provided for," he said.

"And as such, that is also not comparable to the issue of reparations."

Germany in May for the first time recognised that it had committed a genocide against indigenous Herero and Nama people between 1904 and 1908.

As part of a deal with Namibian negotiators after six years of talks, Berlin also offered a financial programme of 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion).

The sum will be paid over 30 years, and must primarily benefit the descendants of the Herero and Nama.

However, Germany pointedly did not qualify the financial sum as "reparations".

Maas said Germany respects criticism from Namibia about the agreement.

But he added that calls for critics for financial compensation of up to hundreds of billions of euros "do not correspond to reality".

The deal, which is currently pending ratification by the Namibian parliament, has been slammed by opposition lawmakers there.

The southern African country's Vice President Nangolo Mbumba last week said the development budget offered by Germany was "not enough" but that it would be revisited as funding is rolled out.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.