Thursday, 23. May 2013 - 21:05
16. 04. 12. - 14:00
The President of the Hungarian Democratic Union in Romania (UDMR), in government, said on Saturday that he would ask the coalition to reintroduce in the legislation the restitution of properties to former owners or to their descendants whose properties had been nationalised by the Communists to be made in full and in kind, local press informs today (Mon).
Reacting to the latest announcement made by Finance Minister Bogdan Dragoi according to which the total funds for the full compensation paid to former owners amounts to some 16 billion Euros with half of the sum to be given to the Roman Catholic Church, Kelemen said he was against the provisions included in a new draft law to stop all restitution in kind and to limit the compensation payments to 15 per cent of the original value of the properties.
The UDMR president said the restitution in integrum (in full) should be made in those cases where the buildings or other type of properties are available for restitution. "...these buildings should be given back to their former owners and in this way the state will not to pay financial compensation," he argued.
Kelemen suggests the government should conduct an assessment to see why in the past three years restitution in kind was stopped and no financial compensation had been made either and instead "a lot of money went on consulting activities".
"I don't know who and how this money has been spent but we have to check this." However, Kelemen says he agrees with the limit on compensation payments between 15 and 25 per cent of the initial value of the properties.
"We have to see how much the state will be able to pay. The limitation has to be accepted but I don't know the percentage," he said.
Last week, the cabinet informed it did not have the necessary funds to compensate all the former owners. According to a new draft law developed by the government, the former owners will get only 15 per cent of the value of their lost properties and in a period of time spanning from 10 to 12 years.
By limiting the value of the compensation payments, the government wants to avoid sanctions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Romania has to solve the restitution of properties confiscated by the Communists (1946 Ė 1989) by July. ECHR in Strasbourg has notified the authorities that if they do not observe the deadline, they will have to apply sanctions.
Romania ranks first among the member countries of the Council of Europe (CoE) which do not respect the property rights. Romania risks to be ousted from CoE, an international body of 47 European states.
So far, Romania has solved only about 11 per cent of all restitution claims, whilst many properties have been illegally given back to people who forged the ownership documents or the inheritance papers.
A recent audit revealed that illegal payments worth hundreds of millions of Euros have been made to fake owners in the past years while the files of real owners dispossessed by the Communists have been abandoned in the archives of the Property Restitution Agency. The audit revealed that 80 per cent of the payments representing financial compensation, the so-called owners did not have the inheritance documents and that there were over 21,000 files still unsolved.
Mid-March, the PM had decided to suspend the payments for the next six months and had notified the Prosecutorís Office as well.
The amount of financial compensation Romania has to pay to former owners totals 16 billion Euros, according to Finance Minister Bogdan Dragoi.
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