Viewing cable 05VILNIUS283

05VILNIUS2832005-03-17 13:50:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000283 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/07/2014 
REF: 04 VILNIUS 1292 
) and (d) 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The Lithuanian Government and political 
leaders reaffirmed their commitment to restitution of Jewish 
communal property during a series of meetings with visiting 
American Jewish Committee official Rabbi Andrew Baker March 
7-8.  Paving the way for Baker's visit, the local Jewish 
community submitted to the Ministry of Justice a "final" list 
of 438 restitutable properties.  The Government expects to 
complete archival research on the list during the summer of 
2005 and to introduce legislation authorizing restitution in 
the fall.  The process to establish the foundation that will 
administer restituted properties and associated monies has 
been completed, despite attempts by some Jewish community 
groups to delay or derail it.  END SUMMARY. 
The "Final" List of Properties for Restitution? Almost... 
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¶2. (C) American Jewish Committee official Rabbi Andrew Baker 
assured PM Algirdas Brazauskas and opposition Conservative 
party leader Andrius Kubilius that the list of properties the 
Jewish community submitted to the MOJ on March 4 was "for all 
intents and purposes a final" and comprehensive list of 
former Jewish communal properties with extant buildings. 
Baker did not rule out the possibility that during the "next 
week, next month or next year" one or two additional 
properties would turn up, but suggested additions to the list 
would be few. The "final" list of 438 properties comprises 
172 previously submitted to the GOL and 266 new properties. 
Brazauskas commented that the GOL would need at least six 
months to research the new properties and authenticate the 
¶3. (C) Baker pressed both Brazauskas and Justice Minister 
Gintautas Buzinksas, in separate meetings, for a restitution 
timeline.  Brazauskas estimated that the Government would 
complete the research and valuation of properties by 
September.  With an estimate of the total cost of restitution 
then in hand, the MOJ would submit draft legislation to the 
Parliament (Seimas) to modify the restitution law and allow 
restitution to begin.  Brazauskas opined that passing this 
legislation entirely depended on the Seimas, but could 
possibly take two years. 
¶4. (C) Kubilius and MP Emmanuelis Zingeris told Baker it 
would be important to push the legislation through as quickly 
as possible to prevent it from becoming an issue in municipal 
elections, and assured Baker of their full support for the 
restitution process.  Recalling Lithuania's post-independence 
privatization process, whose results failed all interested 
parties, Kubilius expressed concerns about the management of 
the resources of the foundation responsible for restitution 
funds, cautioning that the foundation's eventual large 
endowment could be a temptation for abuse.  Baker pledged 
that the foundation would operate in an open, transparent and 
inclusive manner.  He stated that the board would deal fairly 
with tenants or residents in restituted property.  Baker said 
that the board would use rental income and sales proceeds to 
support all bona fide Jewish communal activities and some 
needy Holocaust survivors.  Making implicit reference to 
claims that the composition of the foundation's board did not 
adequately represent all sectors of the Jewish community, 
Baker assured that the board would distribute funds to 
applicants regardless of whether the group requesting funding 
has a representative on the board. 
Registering the Foundation: Why So Hard? 
¶5. (C) A central theme Baker raised in every meeting was the 
challenge faced by the Lithuanian Jewish community to 
register the foundation to administer restituted properties 
and compensation.  The attorney for the Lithuanian Jewish 
Community began the registration process on March 2.  The 
attorney is required to register through a notary, who then 
presents the documents to the Registration Department at the 
MOJ.  On March 3, the Kaunas Religious Jewish Community, a 
Hasidic group not affiliated with the secular Jewish 
community organizations, submitted a letter to the Notary 
Association requesting that the registration of the 
foundation be delayed.  The Notary Association faxed this 
letter to all 207 notaries in Lithuania, although their 
reason for doing so is unclear.  When the attorney attempted 
to submit some corrected paperwork on March 4, the notary 
refused to accept the documents, citing the letter. 
¶6. (C) Buzinskas confirmed that this letter has no legal 
standing and does not affect the registration of the 
foundation.  Buzinskas said that the Ministry would contact 
the Notary Association and relay this information and 
Ambassador Mull sent a letter to Buzinskas confirming this 
understanding.  The attorney successfully registered the 
foundation on March 15. 
Comment: Another Step Along the Path 
¶7. (C) Baker's visit has again jump-started the slow-moving 
restitution process.  His presence overcame the 
procrastination inside the Jewish community and motivated its 
leaders to submit the updated list of properties.   Baker 
continues to try to find common ground between the various 
factions in the community, and to bring some of the outlying 
groups into the tent.  If the GOL meets its commitment to 
confirm the ownership of properties on the list, substantial 
progress toward resolution of the restitution issue will 
occur by the end of the year.