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Netanyahu's Baltic trip ignores rehabilitation of nazis

ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is courting the Baltic states in a bid to change EU policy on Iran, despite Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia’s role in rehabilitating nazi collaborators and Holocaust perpetrators.

Speaking after a meeting with prime ministers Saulius Skvernelis of Lithuania, Juri Ratas of Estonia and Maris Kucinskis of Latvia in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, Mr Netanyahu condemned the EU decision to provide €18 million (£16.2m) in aid to Iran in a bid to offset unilateral sanctions imposed by US President Donald Trump.

Mr Netanyahu said the aid package, which consists of support for small businesses, environmental protection schemes and drug harm reduction, was “a poison pill to the Iranian people and to the efforts to curb Iranian aggression in the region and beyond.”

Mr Skvernelis reiterated EU formal opposition to Israel’s illegal settlement expansion programme in the West Bank but called for European countries to “better listen, hear [Israel] out and understand their position.

“Israel is not only waging war and defending its independence, the lives of its people, but is also fighting in a wider context,” he declared.

The Israeli PM’s trip will raise eyebrows as all three Baltic states have seen efforts to rewrite the history of the second world war and rehabilitate nazi collaborators.

Earlier this summer, the Lithuanian capital Vilnius officially advertised a parade celebrating the anniversary of the June 23 1941 uprising by the Lithuanian Activist Front, which took place a day after the nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

Many scholars say the uprising marked the start of the Holocaust in Lithuania, with the front beginning the massacre of Jews even before the arrival of the nazis on the scene.

Estonian Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu sent greetings last month to a memorial honouring nazi collaborators who fought with the Wehrmacht against the Red Army in the Battle of Tannenberg Line, prompting Russian protests that the “unfortunate custom of glorifying Waffen SS veterans continues in Estonia.”

Towns in the country have also recently raised plaques in honour of Waffen SS officers including Alfons Rebane.

Latvian Waffen SS veterans and supporters stage an annual Legionnaires’ Day march in honour of the genocidal German organisation’s two Latvian divisions with barely disguised government approval.

This year, authorities denied anti-racist campaign Latvia Without Fascism permission to hold a counterdemonstration and a man displaying photographs of Waffen SS soldiers killing Jews was arrested.

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