Hungary Signs New Holocaust Survivor Reparation Deal
The Hungarian government announced a deal Saturday with an American-based Holocaust restitution organization on reparations for Hungarian survivors living abroad, ending a year-long row over transparency and a freeze of payments to survivors.
"The government has concluded an agreement with the Conference of Material Claims Against Germany," Janos Lazar, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff, said in a statement to the Hungarian news agency MTI.
Hungary signed a five-year agreement with the Claims Conference in 2007 for the distribution of $21 million (16 million euros) to Hungarian Holocaust survivors but broke off talks on an extension of the agreement last year, the AFP news agency reported.
It stopped payments and asked for some funds to be repaid after accusing the Claims Conference of improper accounting, a charge the organization fiercely denied.
"Holocaust survivors of Hungarian origin living abroad will be able to receive as soon as possible the compensation to which they are entitled," Lazar said Saturday, as reported by AFP.
"In order to now faster disburse restitution monies, the government will transfer $5.6 million within three days," he said.
Lazar said the money would be transferred to the Jewish Heritage of Hungary Public Endowment (MAZSOK), a Hungary-based committee made up of government officials and Jewish representatives, which liaises with the Claims Conference.
The parties have also agreed to contract an international auditing firm to monitor the transparency of the disbursements, he added.
State pensions for Hungary-based Holocaust survivors were hiked 50 percent by the government earlier this year.
Approximately 600,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.