Serbia masters the difference between restitution and restitution

by Rhodri C. Williams

As part of its EU bid, Serbia has passed a law allowing for the restitution of property nationalized during the Cold War. Curious that the EU should take a strong stand on principle when it comes to rights extinguished three generations ago through distasteful but not necessarily illegal expropriation proceedings, while giving neighboring Croatia a pass on rights extinguished much more recently through acts now unambiguously deemed crimes against humanity. One also wonders whether the EU is making similar headway clarifying the intricacies of the restitution concept to the authorities it oversees in Kosovo. All grist for a much longer post if I only had the time…

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2 responses to “Serbia masters the difference between restitution and restitution

  1. I agree absolutely. Since approximately half a million from Croatia and Kosovo have been displaced and have not yet returned.

  2. Well, return is setting the bar pretty high – I think the emerging consensus is that IDPs, in particular, have a right to choose whether to return or not (keeping in mind that those displaced from Kosovo are still seen as IDPs by the UN, while refugees from Croatia are unusually analogous to IDPs given the possibility of dual citizenship).

    On the other hand, the fact that no legal compensation (let alone restitution) is on offer for the 30,000 odd Croatian Serb occupancy rights extinguished in relation to the conflict is anomalous, given international insistence on remedies for such rights in Bosnia and Kosovo. And the failure in Kosovo to complete a timely and comprehensive property restitution process and create the broader conditions for voluntary return is also problematic.

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