Denationalisation still ongoing three decades on
More than 30 years after Slovenia passed legislation to return assets nationalised or confiscated after the Second World War to their rightful claimants, some of the most complex cases have still not been resolved.
The Denationalisation Act was passed in November 1991 and came into force on 7 December that year. Primarily, it envisaged restitution of property in kind, and in cases where this was not possible, substitute property or compensation, either in cash or bonds.
Out of almost 40,000 denationalisation claims filed since, 95 of the most complex cases are still pending, down from 115 two years ago.
No new claims
The initial plan was for denationalisation to wrap up in 2005, but the process has dragged on. However, at least the submission of claims seems to have stopped.
By the end of September 2023, 39,715 denationalisation claims had been filed, just one more than two years earlier.
A total of 39,620 cases or 99.76% have been fully resolved and only some of the most complex cases remain to be completed. Official data show that around ten claims are typically resolved per year.
Of the 95 pending cases, 65 are at the first instance, and 30 at the second instance, in administrative disputes or subject to revision. Among the pending cases at the first instance, 47 are being processed by administrative units, 15 by the Culture Ministry and three by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning.
Nearly €2 billion in damages paid
In cases where restitution of property in kind was not possible, €1.75 billion has been paid out in compensation so far, and claims for another €94 million are expected, according to data from Slovenian Sovereign Holding.
The Farmland and Forest Fund, which is in charge of the restitution of agricultural land, has so far returned 163,584 hectares of agricultural land and forests.
When the denationalisation process takes too long, the state must pay damages to beneficiaries who are not able to use their property in that period.
The Farmland and Forest Fund has so far paid out €56.4 million in such damages, another €15 million in interest and almost half a million euro in court expenses.
Major pending cases linked to church
One case that has recently been resolved concerns some 30 hectares of farmland near Krumperk Castle in the Domžale municipality. The land, which had been used by the Ljubljana Biotechnical Faculty, was handed over to the original owners, the Pogačnik family, which already got the castle back in 1993, the newspaper Dnevnik has reported.
Among the still pending cases is a claim by the Ljubljana Archdiocese for the return of 21,000 hectares of land in the Radovljica area, including 15,000 hectares in the Triglav National Park. According to media reports, the archdiocese has so far received 17,000 hectares.
Another prominent pending case is that filed by the Teutonic Order for a church in the Križanke open-air theatre complex, currently managed by the Ljubljana municipality.