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      Latvian Minister Resigns Over Holocaust Restitution Blunder

      Latvian Justice Minister was forced to resign his position, following his controversial claims that Holocaust restitution policy is biased
      By Rachel Hirshfeld
      First Publish: 6/25/2012, 7:11 AM

      Baltic state representatives
      Baltic state representatives
      Reuters

      Latvian Justice Minister Gaidis Berzins was forced to resign his position, following his controversial claims that Holocaust restitution policy is biased because it places the interests of one minority over others.

      His resignation came after the politician, who heads the right-wing All For Latvia-For Fatherland and Freedom party, voiced his opposition to Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis’ plans to create a commission to investigate the issue of property restitution for the families of Latvian Jews displaced during the Holocaust, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

      “Given the prime minister’s and justice minister’s differing understandings of the transfer of real estate to Jewish religious and social organization...(there is) a situation in which there is no further scope for the minister to work productively,” Berzins announced in an official statement posted to the justice ministry’s website.

      Despite having stepped down from his position, Berzins said that his party will continue to contribute to the three-party governing coalition, headed by Dombrovskis.

      In 2006, the Latvian parliament blocked a bill proposing $55 million in restitution for property that once belonged to institutions of Latvia’s Jewish community. 

      Ilja Lenskis, director of the Jews in Latvia Museum, confirmed that last year the community had once again begun lobbying efforts over the “painful and harsh issue” in Latvia’s recent past.

      Approximately 80,000 Jews, 90% of Latvia's pre war Jewish population, were murdered during the Holocaust.