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Hungary, Claims Conference trade barbs

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The Claims Conference accused Hungary’s government of “depriving” Holocaust survivors through “disgraceful” and “deceitful tactics.”

The allegations came after Budapest demanded on Aug. 27 that the Claims Conference, an organization representing world Jewry in compensation talks on Holocaust-era crimes, “return” $12.6 million to Hungary’s treasury.

An announcement published on the website of the Hungarian Ministry of Public Administration and Justice cited “discriminatory” methods by the Claims Conference that had “failed to properly report” on expenditure. Hungary would give the Claims Conference no more funds until the issue is solved, the announcement said.

Greg Schneider, the Claims Conference executive vice president, said that this was the first time in the organization’s 62 years of operation “that a country has reneged when it came time to pay.”

According to the Hungarian ministry, the money Hungary is demanding is part of $21 million pledged by the government in 2007 for the following five years for Holocaust survivors in Hungary and abroad.

But the Claims Conference said that the Hungarian government failed to transfer $5.6 million of that $21 million. The Conference said it only spent approximately $8 million received from Hungary.

“As a result of such conduct, thousands of Holocaust survivors will, unfortunately, be deprived of the assistance they so desperately need and had reason to expect,” the Claims Confer-ence added. — jta


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