Slovakia will compensate Jews for land stolen by Nazis

PRAGUE — The Slovak government expects to finalize its proposal soon for compensation of Jewish property seized by the Nazis.

Government spokesman Peter Miklosi said officials hope to reach agreement on the details with the country's Jewish community and begin paying compensation before legislative elections are held in September.

Experts estimate the current value of the seized property at around $530 million, three times higher than initial estimates.

The country's Jewish community has proposed that the government pay 10 percent of the value, but neither side was willing to reveal the precise figure of the likely payout.

"The Slovak government is fully committed to resolving this issue as soon as possible," Miklosi said.

The process has been delayed by complications, including the government's severe lack of funds, disagreement among the Jewish communities and a reluctance among some members of the public to use public money to compensate Jews, Miklosi said.

"I don't think we could have settled this complex issue any sooner, as there have been many hurdles to overcome," he said. "While we want to deal with this issue sensitively, we don't want to provoke a wave of antipathy against Jews."

The country's Jewish community, which has complained about the long delay in settling the issue, expressed relief that a deal was close to being signed.

"We are very pleased that progress has been made. The process has taken a long time, but we are really happy that it is reaching a conclusion," said Fero Alexander, executive chairman of Slovakia's Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities.