Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman
Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
March 15, 1999
COMMISSION HEARING ANNOUNCED
THE LONG ROAD HOME: STRUGGLING FOR PROPERTY RIGHTS IN POST-COMMUNIST EUROPE
—The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe today announces a forthcoming hearing:
The Long Road Home:Struggling for Property Rights in Post-Communist EuropeThursday, March 2510:00 a.m.—12:30 p.m.Room 2255 Rayburn House Office BuildingWashington, DCOpen to Members, Staff, Press and the Public
Scheduled to testify are:
Stuart E. Eizenstat, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs and U.S. Special Envoy for Property Claims in Central and Eastern Europe
Michael Lewan, Chairman, United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
Bishop John Michael Botean, Romanian Catholic Diocese of Canton, Ohio.
Vladislav Bevc, Ph.D., Executive Officer, American Owners of Property in Slovenia.
Jan Sammer, The Czech Coordinating Office (non-governmental organization), Toronto, Canada
Vytautas Sliupas, Lithuanian “Class Action Complaint Group”
A central element of Nazi and communist persecution in Central and Eastern Europe was the uncompensated confiscation of real and personal property from individuals and religious communities. The end of communist tyranny after 1990 sparked hope that governments in this region would redress these wrongful seizures of private property and communal property, such as churches, synagogues, schools and hospitals.
This hearing will further address issues initially raised in a 1996 Commission hearing concerning the return of property confiscated by fascist and communist regimes to their rightful owners in post-communist Europe.
The hearing occurs several months after a U.S. Government-sponsored international conference addressed the issue of restituting Holocaust-era assets, including communal property, and several months before a conference in Warsaw to focus exclusively on communal property restitution issues.
Witnesses will discuss the progress made and the remaining obstacles to restitution and compensation in Central and Eastern Europe. Special attention will be given to recent restitutions in Poland, the controversy over restitution to the Romanian Greek Catholic Church, and the bureaucratic and legal obstacles faced by individuals seeking restitution of family homes, businesses and land in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Lithuania.
Media Contact: Ben Anderson or Chadwick R. Gore
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