Himara Blog: What's coming up
Areas & Sights, News, Articles, Discussion, Photos, Events etc.
We want our blogger to be a place where people discuss and debate ideas that foster stronger communities. We built this for you. Please take care of it. Tolerate broad thinking, but take action against obscene or hateful material. Make it a credible and safe place worth preserving and sharing.
Monday, June 16, 2014
Himara Organizations Address Letter to EU Ambassador Stefan Fule - See more at: http://himarriotonsociety.org/content/news/himara-organizations-address-letter-eu-ambassador-stefan-fule
June 9, 2014
The Honorable Stefan Füle
European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy
200, Rue de la Loi
B - 1049 Brussels (Belgium)
Dear Mr. Ambassador,
We are writing to you on behalf of the 11,000 citizens of Himara, Albania
and members of the diaspora.
As the Republic of Albania’s European Union candidacy status decision
approaches on June 2014, we wish to bring to your attention the plight of the
people of Himara, Albania and their disenfranchisement of their basic human
right of property ownership.
Progress in the area of property rights is one of the 12 key priorities the
European Commission identified in order for Albania to be considered for candidacy
status. The Commission’s 2012 report found progress has been made towards
this priority by the adoption of a comprehensive strategy on property
reform. However, we wish to inform you that for the people of the municipality
of Himara, any progress on property rights must entail a change in the laws and
policies of the Albanian government which currently do not allow for the return
of property to Himara’s rightful owners. Rather those laws and policies
are being used by the government to facilitate a land grab of Himara for the
benefit of ex-communist party officials and the mafia.
To date, 23 years since the end of the communist regime, not one Himariotan
has yet to receive title to their rightful property. Rather, their lands
are being appropriated, sold to third parties by groups with shady ties, or
given as ‘concessions’ to unscrupulous interests and developers. To the people
of Himara, their lands are ‘under attack’, their patrimony is being
sold, and they are being marginalized in their historic homeland.
Albanian Land Law 7501 and its amendments effectively allow for the
distribution of only 20% of the land of Himara that was confiscated in 1945 by
the previous communist regime. It does not allow for the restitution of the
family properties, Orthodox Church property or communal village property that
was confiscated. As Himara lies along the Ionian coast of the ‘Albanian
Riviera’, the cover of the law is being used to claim the remaining 80% in a
land grab of valuable coastal property eyed for touristic development. This has
fueled rampant corruption and land conflicts between historic owners and those
claiming their land. The perpetrators of this land grab believe that they can
act with impunity as there has been limited international monitoring of
developments or independent investigation of events.
For 23 years the people of Himara have consistently called for the
restitution of all the land that was confiscated by the prior communist regime
to the people of Himara.
As Law 7501 has yet to be implemented in Himara or along the Ionian coast to
the south, and as accurate property records exist in state hands, this should
be a relatively straightforward process to carry out. True property
rights and reform would spur lawful development and growth in an area which has
the potential to benefit the country economically as a whole.
We are in support of the Republic of Albania’s European Union ascension and
progress on all 12 key priorities, including that of property reform as it
applies to the country as a whole.
We also strongly believe that it is in the best interests of the Republic to
hold itself to the high standards of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
in its respect for the rights of property ownership. We encourage the European
Council to address this issue with the government of Prime Minister Edi Rama
and encourage that government to exemplify bold leadership and take decisive
steps to implement true property rights in Himara based on the full restitution
of property to its rightful owners.
We look forward to the opportunity of discussing this matter with you