Albania: OSCE envoy expresses concern over property restitution

  Property reform was one of the important points in the report which Ambassador Pavel Vacek read at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna.
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According to him, the full implementation of the law is being impeded by the fact that many terms envisaged by the law have not been kept, while the relevant Albanian institutions have not taken the necessary steps to meet their obligations. Vacek stressed that the condition of state obligations over the compensation scheme remain disquieting.

According to Vacek, it has not been possible to implement the law on property restitution in areas in which the registration of property had not yet been completed. “The necessary information necessary to define property claims has been secured through a process known as `First Registration`, which has to do with systematic findings, the drawing of maps, and the registration of the legal title deeds.

The main urban and coastal areas remain unregistered, and it is precisely in these areas that the land market is more active and the potential for economic development more important. As a consequence, the registration of immovable property in these areas is a question of urgency,” he said, adding that the OSCE Presence and the State System of Registration of Immovable Property had identified 60 cadastral areas as priority ones.

According to information from the System of Registration of Immovable Property, there was a total of 3,058 cadastral areas in Albania, of which only 2,402 had been registered. In the rural areas, 2,377 (80 per cent) out of 2,900 cadastral areas had been registered, while in the 138 urban areas, only 25 (18 per cent) had been registered.

Work on the First Registration was envisaged to start under the direction of the OSCE Presence in June 2005 and it would continue until 2007, the time when the process was expected to be fully taken over by the government. Two days ago [2 June], Vacek also spoke about the right of ownership and the issue of title deeds, which had a strong impact on social, economic, and political aspects of the country`s life. “As an example, the lack of legally recognized land rights impedes the economic development of the country, is the main source of civil cases in the courts, and has an influence on the increase in corruption,” he said.

According to the OSCE Presence in Tirana, another problem is that of the financial compensation, which, according to a method of estimation approved by the Assembly, could reach very high figures, which, in turn, would have a negative impact on the budget.

The OSCE Presence has given assistance to drawing the Law on the Restoration and Compensation of Property, which was passed in 2004, following work that went on for a whole year in order to meet the obligations deriving from the constitutional term, which had expired as early as 2001.

Source: Shekulli, Tirana, in Albanian 4 Jun 05 p 2

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