Latvian parliament
Latvian parliament iStock

Latvia’s parliament on Thursday passed a Holocaust restitution bill that includes compensation for lost Jewish property and funding to revitalize the Baltic nation’s Jewish community, The Associated Press reported.

Following years of wrangling over the issue, the 100-seat Saeima voted 64-21 to approve the Law on the Compensation of Goodwill to the Latvian Jewish Community on the bill's final reading.

Arkady Sukharenko, chairman of the Latvian Council of Jewish Communities, praised “this historic step” taken by lawmakers.

“Finalizing this process demonstrates that even 77 years after the end of the Holocaust, it is never too late for justice,” he said.

In September, Latvia’s parliament voted in principle to support the restitution bill.

Lengthy negotiations involving the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), Latvian Jewish representatives and government authorities started in 2005. The United States and Israel also were involved in the talks.

The bill authorizes spending 40 million euros ($45 million) over 10 years to revitalize Latvia’s 9,500-strong Jewish community, provide social and material assistance to Holocaust survivors, and to fund Jewish schools, building restoration and cultural projects.

“For the (Jewish) community, we hope now to turn the page and close the book of World War II and its legacy,” Dmitry Krupnikov, head of the Latvian Jewish Community Restitution Fund, told The Associated Press.

“It would be very good to put that behind us. We have a lot of things to address in the present conditions that we have here," he added.

WJRO operations chair Gideon Taylor welcomed the legislation, telling AP, “The legislation adopted today is a meaningful acknowledgement of the unique tragedy that befell Latvian Jewry, and a powerful statement of Latvia’s abiding goodwill to its Jewish community and to Latvian Holocaust survivors.”

The legislation states that the Latvian state is not responsible for the Holocaust during the occupation of Latvia and the actions of the Soviet occupation regime.