Athens — Greece’s Jewish community hailed on Saturday lawmakers’ decision to allow descendants of Holocaust survivors to apply for Greek citizenship.
The parliamentary amendment follows calls from the Central Board of Jewish Communities, the group’s president David Saltiel told AFP.
“This is a moral victory,” and a “fresh step forward in the recognition of the history of the Holocaust and of Greek Jews,” he said.
In 2011 Greece recognized the right of Jewish survivors of the World War II Nazi Holocaust to gain back the nationality they had lost if they left the country, Saltiel said.
The new amendment concerns relatives of those survivors, many of whom live in Israel.
Thursday’s vote passed largely unnoticed but has since become a political controversy.
The leftist Greek government on Saturday sharply criticized the opposition conservative New Democracy (ND) party for abstaining from the vote.
The ND countered that it backs the measure and attributed its abstention to confusion during the voting.
As expected the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, the fourth biggest in parliament, voted against the legislation.
Before the Nazi occupation, there were over 50,000 members of Greece’s largest Jewish community in the second city Thessaloniki.
Eighty percent of the Jewish community in Greece were slaughtered during the war. It now has fewer than 5,000 members.
In January the Jewish community in Thessaloniki finally got the go-ahead to build a Holocaust museum partly funded by Germany.