Polish Prime Minister Commits to Restitution Legislation

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March 11, 2008

The Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, committed yesterday at a meeting with Jewish organizations in New York that the Polish government will soon address the issue of private property restitution.

The meeting at the Polish Consulate in New York was with the Claims Conference and other Jewish organizations. Together with the World Jewish Restitution Organization, the Claims Conference has been pressing the issue of Polish property restitution legislation.

The Prime Minister was urged to introduce at an early date, comprehensive legislation to address the return of Holocaust era confiscated private property. He responded that legislation on reprivitization of property to deal with this matter would be introduced in the Sejm (the Polish parliament) in the spring and that he would make every effort possible to ensure that it would be passed by the fall.

In response to specific representations made at the meeting, he emphasized that non-citizens of Poland would be treated equally with citizens and that the procedures for making claims under the law would be based on creating maximum accessibility for claimants. He said that the issue of how much compensation would be paid was not yet determined. The Claims Conference/WJRO will be following up on an intensive basis with Polish officials on these issues.

Poland is the only major country in the former Soviet bloc that, in the 18 years since the fall of Communism, has not taken any measures to help former property owners or heirs recover private property stolen since 1939 that is still within the country’s borders.

The Prime Minister also addressed a range of other issues of concern to the Jewish community.

The Prime Minister met earlier in the day with President Bush at the White House.