Alexis Tsipras Angela Merkel
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made case for reparations during meeting with German Chancellor Angela MerkelReuters

The Greek government has said Germany owes Greece €279bn (£204bn, $303bn) in war reparations for the Nazi occupation during the Second World War.

It is the first time that Greece has officially calculated what it says Germany owes it for Nazi actions during the 1940s.

"According to our calculations, the debt linked to German reparations is €278.7bn," Greek Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday (7 April).

The figure includes a €10.3bn occupation loan that the Nazis forced the Bank of Greece to pay.

The cash-strapped government in Athens has become increasingly assertive in its attempts to win compensation for atrocities carried out by the Nazis, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras saying the question of reparations was a "moral and ethical" issue for the country.

Tsipras raised the issue at a meeting with his German counterpart Angela Merkel in March, making a rare public demand for reparations while on German soil.

For its part, Germany has insisted that it has already honoured its obligations. Berlin previously paid 115 million Deutschmarks in compensation to Greece in 1960.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel on Tuesday dismissed the debate over reparations as "dumb" and said the Greek government's approach risked enmeshing historical and present problems.

"If you bring two areas that have nothing to do with one another, both heavily burdened issues politically, into a single context, then you make it damned easy for those from whom you want something simply to exit the debate and say 'you can't do that,'" Gabriel said.

Greece is engaged in a long-running dispute with eurozone member states over access to the next round of its financial bailout. Greece's creditors are dubious about the pace of reforms in the Greek economy and want Athens to implement more drastic measures to improve its economic efficiency. The Greek public blames the austerity measures for bringing the economy to its knees.