C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000115
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/OHI
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/26/2019
TAGS: PHUM PGOV LH
SUBJECT: DRAFTING JEWISH PROPERTY RESTITUTION LAW,
GOVERNMENT FAILS TO CONSULT WITH KEY JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS
Classified By: Ambassador John A. Cloud for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).
Â¶1. (U) The GOL on February 24 published its latest proposal
to resolve the long-festering issue of restitution of
communal Jewish property seized by the Nazi and Soviet
occupiers of Lithuania. The draft calls for the government
to pay 113 million LTL (about USD 42 million) in installments
from 2011 to 2021, but includes no provision for return of
any real estate. The amount is only two-thirds the 170
million LTL (USD 63 million) discussed by the previous
government just three months ago. The new draft says the GOL
retains the right to alter the payment schedule if the
government determines itself to be in financial difficulty.
Funds would be funneled to a foundation that the GOL would
define Later. The process by which the government reached
its valuation remains opaque.
Â¶2. (C) At a February 20 meeting with leaders of the
Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC), Prime Minister Kubilius
had committed to using the Lithuanian Jewish Heritage
Foundation, which had been set up by the LJC and the World
Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) as the mechanism for
effecting restitution, with the government having no say in
its operation. However, we understand because of the PM,s
concerns that including specific information about the
foundation in the bill would generate too much opposition
from a small, but vocal, group, the bill is purposefully
silent on this issue.
Â¶3. (C) COMMENT: We believe that Kubilius truly wants the
restitution issue resolved, quickly and in good faith.
However, it remains unclear whether the local or
international Jewish communities will accept a draft that
ignores six years of delicate negotiations. End comment.