The German government released figures on Thursday in response to parliamentary question from the Green Party which show that Germany has made €2.9 billion in interest payments on Greek bonds since 2010.
Since 2010 Germany has been buying Greek government bonds as part of an EU deal to prop up the struggling Greek economy. The bonds were bought by the Bundesbank and then transferred to the federal treasury.
Initial agreements with the government in Athens set out that any interest earned on the bonds would be paid back to Greece when it fulfilled its reform obligations.
But the figures published by the government on Thursday show that Germany made €3.4 billion in interest payments on the bonds and only paid Greece €527 million in 2013 and €387 million the following year. That left €2.5 billion in profit, plus interest of €400 million on a loan from the KfW development bank.
The Green party have responded to the figures by calling for debt relief for Greece.
“Contrary to all the myths spread by people on the right, Germany has profited massively from the crisis in Greece,” said Green MP Sven-Christian Kindler.
“It can’t be the case that the government makes billions in profits on Greek debt which it puts into the German budget,” he added.
The Greeks have kept their side of the bargain by making painful cuts to the budget but “now it is the Euro group's time to keep its promises,” said Kindler.
On Thursday, Eurozone ministers will try to resolve their differences over the terms of Greece’s departure from its massive bailout programme with splits over the degree of debt relief needed by cash-strapped Athens.
If successful the talks will mark an important milestone for Europe nine years after Greece stunned the world with out-of-control debts and set the scene for three bailouts and a near collapse of the euro single currency.
Finance ministers from the 19 countries that use the single currency are seeking to agree debt relief and a sizeable cash cushion for Greece that will reassure financial markets on the ability of Athens to stand on its own.
As ever in the Greek debt crisis, Germany is the most resistant to debt relief and has demanded that Athens be closely tracked on reform implementation after the programme ends this summer.
Opposite the hardliners, who also include the Netherlands and other northern eurozone countries, are France and the European Central Bank, which argue that reduced debt is crucial in order for Greece to gain the trust of the markets.
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