Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today sharply criticized comments made by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Andronius Ažubalis late last week at a meeting of the parliamentary faction of the Homeland Union and Christian Democratic parties. In a presentation regarding proposed legislation which would permit individuals of Lithuanian origin living elsewhere to obtain Lithuanian citizenship in addition to their current citizenship, the Foreign Minister claimed that the bill was being promoted primarily by “Jews who seek citizenship to press compensation claims against the state.” In a statement issued today in Jerusalem by its Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center categorized Ažubalis’ remarks as “unabashedly anti-Semitic and totally divorced from reality.”
According to Zuroff:
“The Foreign Minister’s outrageous comments expose the insidious duplicity of Lithuania’s attitude toward foreign Jews of Lithuanian origin. On the one hand, the government recently announced its intention to establish a “Litvak Forum” to enlist the support and assistance of overseas Jews, yet at the same time, one of its leading ministers openly expresses his disdain for the same people. The Center therefore fully supports the stance of Lithuania’s brave local Jewish community, which has openly demanded an apology from Minister Ažubalis, whose comments ‘sow discord between Lithuanians and Jews.’”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).