Blinken Says United States Deeply Regrets Poland's Adoption of Restitution Law

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, DC two weeks ago.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, DC two weeks ago.Credit: Brendan Smialowski / AFP

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said the United States "deeply regrets" Poland's adoption of a controversial law that will restrict the possibility of restitution claims for property stolen from Jews by Nazis during World War II, and then nationalized by the postwar communist regime.

"The United States reiterates our concerns about amendments to the Code of Administrative Procedure....severely restricting restitution and compensation for property wrongfully confiscated during Poland’s communist era," Blinken said in his first comments on the matter since Polish President Andrezj Duda enacted the legislation on Saturday. 

"Further, we urge the Polish government to consult with representatives of affected parties and to develop a clear, efficient, and effective legal procedure to resolve confiscated property claims and provide some measure of justice for victims.  In the absence of such a procedure, this legislation will harm all Polish citizens whose property was unjustly taken, including that of Polish Jews who were victims of the Holocaust," Blinken added.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid thanked Blinken for "standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel" against the law. 

The secretary also noted that the United States welcomed Duda’s statement this weekend "in support of freedom of expression, the sanctity of contracts, and the shared values that underpin our relationship," adding that "we strongly encourage him to act on these values in regard to pending legislation that, if passed in the current form, could severely affect media freedom and the foreign investment climate."

Blinken said the United States would work with Poland to advance shared priorities "on the basis of democratic values including respect for the fundamental freedom of expression."

His comments come after weeks of public pressure from the Biden administration and bipartisan lawmakers in both houses of Congress, with several leading Democrats sharply denouncing the Polish government over the weekend.

The matter has further caused a deep diplomatic rift between Poland and Israel, including Israel recalling its charge d'affaires in Warsaw and Poland saying its ambassador will not be returning to Israel until further notice.

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