SAR Report: Property Restitution in the Balkans

The largest ignored policy issue in transitioning countries – post-Communist property restitution, be it lands, buildings, forests or financial compensation – was analyzed by the Romanian Academic Society (SAR), upon the request of the European
Parliament. Mobilizing our in-house expertise and employing a network of collaborators in each of the target countries, we produced a report that outlines 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 one of the few analytic materials available on this crucial post-Communist subject from the link below. While a vast mass of comparative literature exists on privatization, emerging party systems or other aspects of governance in Eastern Europe, surprisingly little has been written on exactly what and how much of the
property nationalized in late ‘40s and early ‘50s was returned to the former owners or their successors after the collapse of the Communist regime.

This is a paradox, given the immense resources at stake: it is estimated that, in every country considered, the volume of property that could theoretically be claimed back amounts to at least one year’s GDP. The manner in which governments dealt with this huge and painful social problem differed a lot from country to country: some opted for fast resolutions, others let the issue drag on for decades; some gave back property in kind, others preferred financial compensation. 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 the 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.

Find the report here.

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