Monday, June 16, 2014

Himara Organizations Address Letter to EU Ambassador Stefan Fule - See more at:

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 further.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Himarriotan Society of America, Annapolis MD
Himara Union, Himara Albania
Himara Union, Athens Greece
Shoqata Bregdeti, Tirana Albania
Drymadioton Adelfotita, Athens Greece
- See more at:

No comments: