Properties like a “forbidden fruit”, Albanian state and Strasbourg

Properties like a “forbidden fruit”, Albanian state and Strasbourg

IBNA Special Report

Tirana, May 23, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

Some land owners in Albania have so many assets that if they were to confront the state, they could make it go bankrupt.

This is confirmed by facts and figures.

A group of 71 Albanian landowners have filed a lawsuit against the state in the court of Strasbourg. They demand to be financially compensated about the lands that they can no longer enjoy.

If these landowners are compensated, the total value is at least 1.5 billion Euros.

Myrshit Vorpsi, head of the Association of former Landowners “Justice for Properties”, says that the Albanian state can go bankrupt if the Strasbourg Court rules in favor of the 71 former landowners who seek financial compensation for their properties.

“I can say that the amounts are large. They’re turning into an element which can make the Albanian state go bust.” Vorpsi says that from 2006 until 2014, the state has compensated only 14.5 hectares of land with 4.5 billion ALL or 3.3 million Euros. This is around 0.3% of the total value that the state owns to former owners.

Up until now, Court of Strasbourg issued 60 rulings in favor of landowners. They amount to a compensation value of around 300 million Euros, money that must be paid by the Albanian state.

Landowners demand the government to apply the rulings of the Strasbourg Court, which entitles them to financial compensation about their property.

IMF: Be careful with Strasbourg

Strasbourg Court has fined the Albanian government with 8 million Euros for not applying its rulings for 10 former landowners families, which had filed a lawsuit against the Albanian state for not paying financial compensation.

Head of IMF, Nadeem Illahi says that this situation must be handled with more care by the government.

He says that “the failure to resolve this problem in an efficient way, will bear a cost for Albania and a great risk for the economic stability”.

According to the IMF chief, the Albanian economy needs drastic reforms in order to come out of the crisis and reduce the debt to 60% until 2019.

According to the IMF chief, domestic factor dictates to the government the undertaking of a number of structural reforms for the revitalization of the economy, among which the energy sector, pensions, business environment, social security, public finances and to hold public debt under control.

Angjeli: Situation is manageable

Prof. Dr. Anastas Angjeli, former minister of Finance and current socialist MP, says that in spite of the fact that debt is higher than it was predicted even without the fund for the compensation of former landowners, the situation can be managed positively.

“The positive management is the creation of legal grounds, the examination of this issue in time and the examination of cases that have been deposited. These three factors are decisive to successfully manage the situation. Without any doubt, the immediate payment of such obligation would cause problems, but I think that court rulings must not be immediate, but spread in time”, says Dr. Angjeli.

Mediu: Lands on the coast must be returned to landowners

The Republic Party is the main political force, whose main mission (on paper) is to defend the rights of former land owners. Nevertheless, every time that this party has been in power, its voice has been weak.

Currently, the compensation of landowners has not moved forward. The leader of Republican Party, Fatmir Mediu has every once in a while tried to convince authorities to compensate former owners. Recently, he has launched an incentive in parliament for the lands on the coast to be returned to owners who have owned them since before 1945. “I have deposited in parliament an amendment on the law “For the transfer of ownership of agricultural land, amended”, says Mediu. According to him, the issue of private properties must be solved, as its solution is an EU obligation.

Mediu says that this bill doesn’t have a burdening financial character, but it reduces costs and financial burden of compensation.

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Properties have been the main topic of the past 24 years. Many people have inherited lands throughout the years. Many others have occupied many properties in the past 24 years, in the capital, coast, center or suburbs. They occupied state and privately owned properties and many objects which were public up until yesterday.

Properties also turned into the dirtiest business of forgeries. Many people suddenly became landowners, leaving the true landowners with nothing.

And in such circumstances, there are regular criminal events filled with murders and injuries which relate to issues of properties. The hope that this situation will change positively needs concrete steps and in order for this to happen, the state doesn’t have a lot of alternatives: It can either capitulate by paying the total amount or to follow scheme which spreads in many years. /ibna/