For the first time, the European Parliament has called on Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to address the restitution of property that was seized during the Holocaust, as a condition to being considered for EU membership.
In a resolution adopted last week by 468 to 123 votes, with 83 abstentions, the European Parliament called on BiH to “ensure the right to property”; pointed out “the lack of a comprehensive legislative framework on handling restitution claims” and encouraged the authorities “to open a dialogue with interested parties on issues pertaining to the restitution of, or compensation for, seized property.”
The World Jewish Restitution Organisation applauded the move. Its chair of operations, Irish-born Gideon Taylor, said: “WJRO is proud to have supported this key article in the European Parliament resolution. We urge Bosnia and Herzegovina to pass legislation for the return of private and communal property.”
Jakob Finci, the Jewish community president in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said: “This vote by the European Parliament is a powerful call for long-awaited legislation in Bosnia to provide justice for Holocaust survivors and their families, and to the Jewish community and other religious communities”.
Before the Holocaust, around 14,000 Jews lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 12,000 of whom lived in its capital, Sarajevo. Only 2,000 returned. Currently, around 1,000 Jews live in the country.