Lithuanian bill would help restore Jewish property

Visiting Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas met with President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, Wednesday.

lithuanian FM 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
lithuanian FM 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
An amendment to Lithuanian law that would facilitate the restoration of Jewish communal property is being drafted, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. The diplomat spoke after a meeting with President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. The bill will be presented to parliament either just before or immediately after the upcoming elections, he said. Vaitiekunas favors introducing the bill during the spring parliamentary session, but warned that approval would depend on the political consensus. Meanwhile he invited Pensioner Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan, who is responsible for the restitution of Jewish property, to come to Lithuania at his earliest convenience, and an invitation was extended to Peres to come next year for the third Litvak Congress. Vaitiekunas, who is the first Lithuanian foreign minister to visit Israel, said it was exciting for him because he understood that at least 200,000 Israelis were of Lithuanian background. He told Peres and Eitan that Lithuania's relations with Israel were good, productive and constructive, and that the new modern Lithuania that belonged to the European Union and to NATO wanted to open a strategic partnership with Israel. As proof of this Vaitiekunas offered to put himself at Israel's disposal in any matter related to the enhancement of the Jewish state's relations with the EU. Recalling that Lithuania was once a great center of Jewish life, Peres said that Israel was interested in having it renewed. He was surprised to learn from the foreign minister that Lithuania had a Jewish School, the Sholem Aleichem School. He was even more surprised when Lithuanian Ambassador Asta Skaisgiryte Liauskiene told him that Vilnius University had an Institute for Yiddish Studies.