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European Parliament Backs Property Restitution Efforts

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The European Parliament has called Central and Eastern European countries to their rightful owners all properties seized by the Nazis during World War II and by Communist regimes in the postwar years.

The resolution adopted last week by the legislative body of the European Union came only days after the Executive Commission, the union’s executive arm, issued its first-ever communique on racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism, calling for a Europewide united front against racial hatred.

The European Parliament’s resolution, adopted Dec. 14 in a vote of 87-67 with three abstentions, is an appeal to the European governments to act quickly on the restitution issue.

The appeal may have added weight with those government because they are eager to join the European Union, said sources with the European Parliament.

In September, at a conference sponsored by the World Jewish Congress held at the European Parliament’s headquarters in Brussels, WJC President Edgar Bronfman urged the European Union to follow the lead of the United States and support the WJC campaign to recover Jewish property in Easter and Central Europe.

Along with Jewish property rights, the parliamentary resolution addressed the rights of churches, many of which are on property that was seized by Communist authorities.

The communique said the “right to equal treatment and freedom from discrimination is one of the core principles inspiring” all European Union “policies, and the rise of racist and xenophobic attitudes clearly runs counter to this.”

The communique was accompanied by a proposal to the E.U. Council of Ministers to designate 1997 as the “European Year Against Racism.”

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