Hungary Recognizes Its Debt to Jews but Says It Lacks Money to Pay Them

Hungary recognizes its responsibility to compensate victims of Nazism on its soil but is not in a financial position to do so, according to Foreign Minister Geza Jeszensky.

“The Jews have a right to be compensated,” Jeszensky told reporters as he prepared to leave for a five-day official visit to Israel next week.

“But the Hungarian state is not in a position financially to give full compensation.”

He said, however, he is open to proposals put forward on the issue by the Israeli side.

Jewish groups have complained that recently enacted Hungarian compensation laws sharply favor victims of communist persecution over those who suffered under the Nazis.

Laws enacted between 1990 and 1992 are “severely discriminatory” in relative compensation between the two groups, according to an official of the World Jewish Congress in New York.

While recognizing Hungary’s obligation, Jeszensky maintained that Germany should also acknowledge a role in meeting claims by those who suffered in World War II.

During the interview, Jeszensky also expressed his hope that his visit to Israel would not be dominated by the issue of Istvan Csurka, a leading Hungarian politician known for his anti-Semitic views.

Csurka, who has blamed national ills on liberals, Jews, Western financiers and the press, was recently demoted from the No. 2 position in the ruling party to a newly created party presidium that has 21 members.

But the party, the Hungarian Democratic Forum, is holding elections for its presidency later this month. Csurka, who enjoys great popularity in some circles here, has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the post.

It is more likely, however, that Prime Minister Jozsef Antall will be re-elected president of his party.

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