On February 10, 2022, the Saeima (Latvia’s parliament) passed the Law on Goodwill Reimbursement to the Jewish Community of Latvia in its final, third reading.
The purpose of the law is to restore justice and support the Jewish community of Latvia to eliminate the consequences of the crimes that took place during the Soviet communist totalitarian regime and during the Nazi occupation and Holocaust.
The law provides for goodwill compensation to the Jewish community of EUR 40 million, within ten years, starting from 2023, for properties that was nationalized during the Soviet occupation. The funds will be transferred to the Latvian Jewish Community Restitution Fund to restore and preserve the cultural and historical heritage of Latvian Jews, support Jewish organizations and implement activities and projects dealing with religion, culture, education, research, healthcare, sports and charity, promote consolidation, unity and development of the civil society.
The Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia welcomes this historic decision with gratitude and appreciation, and believes that it will bring our country and society closer to the restoration of justice, once and for all settling all the issues pertaining to closing all the restitution-related matters of the Jewish community’s property. We are grateful that this question is now solved and is not to be addressed anymore.
The adoption of this law was preceded by extensive and meticulous work, performed by the Council of Jewish Communities in close cooperation with historians, lawyers, political parties, legislators and the Latvian government, as well as international organizations for almost twenty years.
During this time, our community, with the support of our friends, participated in a broad public discussion and did a lot of educational work on historical and legal topics, understanding how important and significant are these issues for Latvia. Openness and tact of the parties involved has laid a strong foundation for an honest discussion. We are happy that our stance has been understood not only by politicians, but also the society.
Without such discussion, without mutual understanding and respect, the current Saeima decision would not have been possible, at least within the foreseeable future.
We are grateful to the deputies and parliamentary parties who supported the bill in all three readings.
We are convinced that implementation of the law “On Goodwill Reimbursement to the Jewish Community of Latvia” will not only help develop and strengthen the Jewish community, but will also contribute to the dignified upbringing and education of the new generations of Latvian citizens, regardless of their ethnic origin.
The adoption of this law will make Latvia a stronger, safer, more self-confident and unified country that is capable of making difficult decisions in a responsible and forward-looking manner. It will enhance our country’s position among Europe’s leading civilized nations and the entire world, opening new opportunities for development and well-being.
Arkady Suharenko, Chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia