MOSCOW (Sep. 17)
Jewish leaders of three Baltic states are expressing concern about anti-Semitism in Latvia and Lithuania.
The comments came during a recent three-day meeting of the Assembly of Jewish Communities of the Baltic States — a group known as the Baltic Knesset.
The annual session of the group, held in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, also focused on the restitution of Jewish property.
Leaders of the Jewish communities of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania said they were not satisfied with the way the authorities in the three countries have been dealing with anti-Semitism since these nations gained their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
The discussion took place at about the same time that the mayor of the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius said in an interview that he would refrain from returning buildings in the city’s historic center to the heirs of their previous Jewish owners.
Before World War II, about 40 percent of the city’s population was Jewish. Vilnius, then known as Vilna, was dubbed the Jerusalem of Lithuania.
Meanwhile, the chairman of Lithuania’s Parliament, Vytautas Landsbergis, said his country would work to preserve Jewish sites because Jews “gave Lithuania, Europe and the whole world a number of famous personalities,” Lithuania’s official news agency reported.
Landsbergis, the first president of Lithuania after the country became independent, told a visiting British official that local authorities have been asked to protect Jewish graveyards and sites associated with the Holocaust.