The Slovenia Times

Twenty-five years on, denationalisation still not completed


While the vast majority of properties have been returned or their owners compensated, several major cases are still pending.

The law was adopted on 20 November 1991 and entered into force two weeks later. It was conceived as a political agreement to rectify the injustices perpetrated by Yugoslavia, which systematically and arbitrarily confiscated property in line with the Communist agenda of collective public ownership.

Property had been confiscated after the war from major industrialists, landowners, those suspected of having collaborated with the enemy forces during the war, and, most notably, the Catholic Church.

The law determined that the confiscated property be returned in kind whenever possible. Alternatively, claimants are entitled to compensation in cash or bonds.

The original plan was to wrap up all procedures by 2005. Of the nearly 40,000 applications submitted, only 164 remain pending to this date, according to Justice Ministry data.

Data by the Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), which has absorbed the SOD fund originally established to deal with denationalisation claims, show that the state retuned property worth EUR 2.1bn by June 2016, plus EUR 18m in compensation for inability to use property. Claims worth EUR 442m have been rejected.

Almost 108,000 hectares of farmland, 148,000 hectares of forest, over a million square metres of housing, 22,000 hectares of building land and 840,000 square metres of commercial real estate has been returned.

But many claimants were unable to get back the property in kind, either because the buildings no longer existed or the land was built over, or because the property is being used, for example for state or military, in a way that makes it impossible to return the property in kind. 

Such claimants have received about EUR 1.7bn-worth of bonds in return.

With the number of outstanding claims slowly dropping, those still on the table are some of the hardest to crack.

While the Justice Ministry says it does not have data showing who the remaining claimants are, it is believed many are related to the Catholic Church.

Unofficial information suggests the Church, once a major landowner with many properties in its ownership dating back to feudal times, has only been returned about a tenth of what it claimed.

And it is the Church which has been in the spotlight in recent months.

The Ljubljana Archdiocese was recently awarded compensation of EUR 16m due to delays in the return of 20,000 hectares of forest.

The news led to denationalisation becoming a hot-button political issue after years on the sidelines, with some on the left demanding the award be offset against losses by Church-owned companies absorbed by the state in the 2013 bailout.

More recently, it was revealed that the Church was still demanding the return of parts of Lake Bohinj, land under Mount Triglav in the Triglav National Park, and land around the Savica waterfall, one of the most popular tourism destinations in the country.


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