The biggest ignored policy issue in transition countries – the post-Communist restitution of property, be it in the form of land, buildings, forests or financial compensation – was analyzed by the Romanian Academic Society (SAR) on a contract with the European Parliament. Mobilizing our in-house expertise and employing a network of collaborators in each of the target countries, we have produced a report outlining the key options and the accuracy of the restitution process in Romania and five other SEE countries: Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. You are welcome to download from the link below one of the few analytic materials on this crucial post-Communist subject. While a vast comparative literature exists on privatization, the emerging party systems or other aspects of governance in Eastern Europe, surprisingly little has been written on exactly what and how was returned to former owners or their successors, after the collapse of the Communist regime, out of the properties nationalized in late ‘40s and early ‘50s.
Which is a paradox, given the immense resources at stake: it is estimated that in every country considered, the volume of property that could in principle be claimed back amounted to at least one year’s GDP. How the governments dealt with this huge and painful social problem differed a lot from country to country: some opted for fast resolution, some let the issue drag for decades; some gave back property in kind, some preferred compensation in equivalent. Overall, a fascinating picture involving legal, economic and moral issues. SAR’s report was presented in a public hearing before the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament, the beneficiary of the study, on May 4, 2010, and was well received by MPs and the EU Commission’s representatives. The session was broadcast live in Romania by Antena 3 and broadly reflected in the Brussels-based media.