News 03 Jan 13

Serbia Seeks Redivision of Ex-Yugoslav Property

Belgrade wants to revise ‘absurd’ deals with its neighbours to share out property once owned by Yugoslavia.

Marija Ristic

“The previous government made some absurd concessions,” said Oliver Antic, a presidential adviser who heads the current Belgrade administration’s body dealing with property issues arising from the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

He cited property in Turkey which he said was given by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to  King Alexander, head of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which is now owned by Bosnia.

As another example of what he alleged was the “unfair division” of property, Antic listed an embassy building in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, which he said was bought by the Kingdom of Serbia and now belongs to Macedonia.

“But all this will now be changed,” he added.

The agreement on property issues between the states that succeeded the former Yugoslavia was signed in 2001 in Vienna.

Negotiations between the states lasted for almost a decade while Belgrade’s former strongmen leader Slobodan Milosevic blocked the signing, claiming that Serbia should be Yugoslavia’s sole successor.

The value of the property in question is still unknown, but it is estimated at up to two billion euro. So far Serbia has received 24 buildings, mainly embassies and residential buildings with an estimated value of 63 million euro.

Croatia has received 10 buildings valued at 17.3 million euros, while Bosnia got eight, Macedonia four and Slovenia three.

However the property rights of many citizens of the former Yugoslavia remain unresolved.
Humanitarian experts have commended the authorities in Bosnia for managing to return 99 per cent of properties to their legal owners since the war, but have criticised Croatia for not making significant enough moves towards restitution.

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