VILNIUS – Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC), on Tuesday welcomed Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte's proposal to pay compensation for expropriated private Jewish property, saying that adopting the bill will be a test for the parliament and the country as a whole.
Kukliansky acknowledged that the proposed new 37-million-euro restitution phase is a compromise, but added that the community welcomes it.
"We appreciate it very much. I think there will be criticism from everywhere. Lithuania is probably the least likely to criticize (...), but perhaps people will be unhappy, too, that big capital has not recovered and will not recover its money, because it is only a symbolic amount that the state can repay today. I mean criticism from former owners," the chairwoman told BNS.
"But this is a kind of test for the state as to whether the law will be passed or not," she added.
According to Kukliansky, the 37 million euros planned to be disbursed to the Good Will Foundation by mid-2030 will not be a big financial burden for Lithuania, but will have a positive impact on its international image.
"Thirty million euros will not save either the war in Ukraine or the Lithuanian economy, but it will have a significant impact on Lithuania's reputation," she said, pre-empting potential criticism suggesting that the money could be better used to deal with problems caused by the current geopolitical situation.
The existing Law on Good Will Compensation for the Immovable Property of Jewish Religious Communities calls for paying 37 million euros in compensation to religious communities by March 2023.
In a new wording of the law, Simonyte proposes to provide an additional 37 million euros to compensate for expropriated private property. Compensation payments would begin in July 2024 and be completed within six years, by July 2030.
"Any law is a matter of agreement (...) on morality, good behavior, common sense," said Kukliansky. "Of course, it is in our interest that people get the maximum possible compensation. But we are also very grateful for what is being tried to be done, if it is going to be done."