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Prague — “In sum, restitution of property confiscated during the Holocaust proceeds exceedingly slowly, if at all,” said a report prepared for the conference by the World Jewish Restitution Organization, an umbrella group.
The focus remains on Central and Eastern Europe, where compensation for communal and private property seizures began in the 1990s and in most cases continues at a glacial pace.
In Croatia, for example, the main progress since 2009 has been the proposal of an amendment eliminating a citizenship requirement imposed by Croatia’s restitution law – but the amendment has not been submitted to lawmakers for consideration.
In Romania, all compensation to private property claimants has been suspended; critics blame a corrupt and bankrupt compensation fund.
In Latvia, where 300 Jewish communal properties were never returned, a bill offering some compensation has been stalled for six years.
In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has withheld the final two years of a government compensation program to aid Hungarian survivors who reside outside the country.
“Notwithstanding its restitution laws, Hungary has, in a number of respects, failed to meet standards advanced in the guidelines” established at the 2009 Prague conference, the WJRO report said. In Hungary, “there are prolonged, unreasonable delays in adjudicating property claims and in making the compensation payments once claims are positively decided, while the guidelines insist on prompt decisions and payment.”
There have been a few bright spots.
In 2011, Lithuania authorized payment of about $50 million over 10 years to compensate the Jewish community for communal property seized by the Nazi and Soviet occupation regimes. Serbia passed a restitution bill affecting Jews and non-Jews that the Jewish community expects eventually will address Holocaust claims specifically.