Estonia not able to discuss German property before fall

  • 2000-06-08
TALLINN (BNS) - A controversial bill calling for the restitution of property to mostly ethnic Germans who emigrated to Germany in 1941 will be discussed again by the Estonian parliament only in the fall.

The head of the parliament's Economics Committee, Andres Lipstok, said the chamber will be in recess from mid-June and won't have time to handle the bill again before then.

"It isn't possible to find a compromise based on the proposed amendments," Lipstok said June 2. Scheduled meetings of the full house of the Estonian parliament will continue over the next two weeks.

Lipstok, of the ruling coalition's Reform Party, said a new roundtable of parliamentary factions could be convened to find a solution to the issue.

Amendments suggested by the opposition People's Union would effect a cardinal change in the text and essence of the bill moved by the government. Some 102 proposals out of 108 concern the date of the law becoming effective. Since they are mutually exclusive, they would call for a complicated voting procedure.

According to the proposals moved by the Center Party, property would not be returned to repatriates, but they or their direct descendants would be compensated for it in privatization securities.

Also, the obligation to prove that no compensation has been received for the property earlier would lie on the applicants themselves or their descendants. In addition, an applicant would have to hold only Estonian citizenship at the time of seeking return of property, as Estonian laws do not recognize dual citizenship.

Economics Committee member from the Reform Party Kalev Kukk said critics of the restitution bill should make a study of Estonian laws as the principles of the ownership reform act recognizes as entitled subjects of the ownership reform all holders of Estonian citizenship as of June 16, 1940.