The latest attempt to stop the 40 million restitution

Hoping to persuade the coalition partners to repeal the so-called restitution law, which is intended to give the Latvian Jewish community 40 million euros, the National Alliance (Nacionālā apvienība) has exercised its rights under the coalition cooperation agreement and postponed consideration of the bill in the Saeima for a week. This is how it is seen by the initiators of the draft law, but the National Alliance hopes that within a week it will be able to achieve that the draft law is removed from the agenda of this Saeima term at all.
24.09.2021. Jānis Lasmanis
©Gatis Gierts/F64

On Thursday, it was planned to submit to the Saeima committees the so-called normative act draft law of the Goodwill Remuneration to the Latvian Jewish Community. This idea was thwarted by a petition signed by five Members to remove the issue from Parliament's agenda. The application was signed by three members of the New Conservative Party (Jaunā konservatīvā partija) and two members of the National Alliance.

A technical detail

"Our signature is purely technical," says Krišjānis Fedmans, a member of the board of the New Conservative Party, one of the MPs who signed the application. He reminds that the cooperation agreement of the coalition envisages the right of each faction to remove from the agenda of the Saeima for a week an issue on which the initiator wants a wider discussion. Therefore, the Conservatives have only helped the National Alliance to exercise its rights.

Asked about the attitude of the political force he represents to the bill, Feldman said he had not yet gone into it, as he was currently addressing other issues.

"When we have to vote, the faction will think about it, we also have different attitudes on this issue,"

says the politician. However, he believes that the Budget and Finance (Taxation) Committee of the Saeima, which promoted the draft law, should understand for itself whether this draft law should really be forwarded for further consideration or left to the next Saeima term. "This question is, of course, ambiguous. Both parties have their arguments,” adds K. Feldmans.

There is no shortage of supporters

The Saeima faction Development/For! (Attīstībai/Par!), which initiated the draft law, has not changed its position. Deputy Speaker of the Saeima faction of the political force Vita Anda Tērauda pointed out to Neatkarīgā that in her view the National Alliance had just exercised the rights stipulated in the cooperation agreement, but the faction was determined to forward the bill for further consideration and adoption during this Saeima term.

The 12-Member Saeima faction of the Development/For! also has enough supporters in the implementation of this mission. The 11-seat strong New Unity (Jaunā Vienotība) faction and 18-seat Harmony (Saskaņa) are also convinced of the necessity of the law of goodwill remuneration. There are also those in the Independent (Neatkarīgie) faction formed by representatives of various political forces who support the need for restitution. Likewise, the Union of Greens and Farmers (Zaļo un Zemnieku Savienība) no longer has a common position on this issue, and the group will have a free vote on it. This suggests that when a bill comes to a vote, its fate will be decided by only a few votes.

Health care by ethnicity

Edvīns Šnore, a representative of the National Alliance who signed the request to remove the issue from the agenda, emphasizes that the National Alliance does not only want to slow down the further progress of the draft law, it wants to persuade the coalition partners to withdraw the initiative altogether.

"The idea is to remove it from the agenda at all, because, in our opinion, the draft law is completely unfair to Latvian citizens, because it will divide them by ethnicity when receiving medical services," says E. Šnore.

He refers to the article of the draft law, which stipulates that the Jewish community will also be able to use the funds received to finance measures and projects related to health care.

"Contrary to common sense, they call for health care not for Holocaust victims, but on ethnic grounds. In our opinion, this is completely unacceptable. That is why we call on the authors of the bill not to anger the people and to show goodwill - to withdraw the bill themselves,” says the MP.

Asked whether it would not be possible to correct its awkward or ambiguous wording by handing over the draft law to the committees E. Šnore pointed out that the draft law is not acceptable to the National Alliance in essence. One of the many reasons is that the amount that is acceptable to the Latvian Jewish community has suddenly increased.

E.Šnore says that several years ago, Dmitrijs Krupņikovs, the Deputy Chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia, admitted that the value of the property to be recovered is more than 40 million euros, but the community is ready to accept 20 million. Now, when asked why the amount has doubled, D. Krupņikovs told the MP: "Then the price was like that, you did not agree, now the price is different." E. Šnore guesses that the Jewish community might have had a sharp rise in spending to persuade some MPs to support the bill.


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