State of the restitution process

European Commission
In reference to the restitution process in Montenegro the European Commission in its analytical report 2010 has stated: “However, there are no precise statistics on nationalisation of property by the Communist regime. The government established special committees to deal with denationalisation in 2004, but the process has been slow. Out of 10,738 demands for restitution, only 2,791 (i.e. 26%) have been examined. 1,205 applications were found eligible for restitution, but property has been returned in only 142 cases so far (i.e. 5% of all cases eligible). There are cases where property subject to restitution was in the meantime privatised. Particular efforts are needed to solve such cases.” [pag. 30]

European Court for Human Rights
In reference to an appeal made by a Rumenian citizen, the European Court for Human Rights with a decision dated 9 december 2008 has decreed that his claim for restitution of properties confiscated by the Communist regime must be evaluated according to the restitution law in force at the time when his application for restitution was submitted and not according to the restitution law passed afterwards.
Since Montenegro is willing to become a State member of the European Union, it follows that the same criteria must be applied by the Montenegrin administration in regards to the Zuber restitution claim which was submitted promptly in the year 2004. So the restitution law that regulates the Zuber restitution claim is the one passed in 2004; many evaluations were made according to the parameters of the 2004 restitution law which were automatically cancelled by the subsequent restitution law.

Montenegrin Constitutional Court
After four years of wait (march 2012), the Constitutional Court has rejected the appeal against the lacks and irregularities of the current Montenegrin restitution law presented by Zuber’s lawyer, Mrs. Novakovic.

The Zuber Gregovic have immediately applied for the restitution of all their properties has soon as the denationalization law was passed in 2004, after having waited for more than forty years.
All the conditions and requirements of the law were minutely met as per the technical evaluations of the buildings, who were instructed by the commissions for restitution of the Montenegrin government.
Nevertheless all this was useless.

Under the first denationalization law of 2004 the commission for restitution of Kotor released a decision of compensation of 8 million euro relevant to the properties located in Kotor. But the decision was never made executive though the law said it should be made executive within 60 days.
In 2007 a new denationalization law was passed retroactively, which introduced new parameters of evaluation thus abolishing all previous work, decisions and evaluations.
The new evaluation for the Kotor properties was reduced to 2 million euros, 1/4 respect to the previous. Such compensation beside being totally below the market evaluation (Villa Kamelija built with white stone of Hvar was rated 52 euros per sqm, where now the most exclusive shopping center has just opened) was never made executive, namely never paid.

At the moment our process is stopped in different ways:

  1. the work of the 1st grade commission has been called off
  2. where preliminary investigation has started and relevant evaluation was made the state prosecutor rejects it
  3. the 2nd grade commission at the Ministry of Finance denies approval to 1st grade decision.
    It’s not even possible to start all over again, because the commission has stopped working so we’re back to the first point

Despite the press release issued by the Ministry of Finance successful restitutions do not depend on the works of the commissions but, quite contrarily, from decisions taken by the Ministry of Finance. In fact both 1st grade and 2nd grade restitution commissions are totally instructed from above.

The 2007 Montenegrin law of restitution and compensation, a tangled labyrinth without any way out, is basically a political operation pretending to meet the agreed conditions to enter the European Union.
Apart from exceptions this law is not being executed, investigation timing is extremely slow, evaluation parameters are below the market and whenever a decision of compensation is issued its payment is reduced to 35% of the fixed sum because of the imposed way of payment (Montenegrin bonds). Respect to its purpose the restitution and compensation law is a real fiasco, not by chance.

Among all the requests of compensation, only one was partly settled for a land property in Petrovac which belonged to Anastasija Gregovic.
Therefore through the sole indemnification case which was partially payed to the Zuber Gregovic there are grounds to declare that the indemnity settled in the compensation decision did not correspond significantly to the amount cashed, both in the case of payment through Montenegrin state bonds (65% loss) and in the case of payment by installments, only 5 out of 15 the installments agreed (67% loss). In fact payment of installments has been interrupted by the government.

Exceptions: in the Montenegrin restitution process there are remarkable exceptions for some people.
Recently a nationalized building in Niksic was restituted.
Also another building in Igalo was restituted to a US citizen.

We look forward to the restitution of all nationalized properties and that the exception becomes a rule.

Enterprises: the new law does not consider compensation for enterprises nationalized by the communist regime, namely there is no mean of indemnity for the damages caused by nationalization of Zetska Plovidba and of Srpsko Albanska Banka.

March 2012: Official evaluation of the assets of the enterprises owned by Lale Zuber, made by the court financial expert Mr. Zoran Todorovic, with the approving stamp of the Montenegrin Ministry of Finance.

European Commission: analytical report 2010
European Court for Human Rights: appeal by a Rumenian citizen – decision 9-12-2008
Montenegrin Ministry of Finance: Official evaluation of the assets of the enterprises owned by Lale Zuber (2012)
Niksic: decision (2007) / appeal against decision (2009) / final restitution decision (2009)
Igalo: restitution decision (2010)