Balkan countries are still working on the return of state and socially-owned property.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 01/11/12
Disagreements or claims over property can be solved through the courts. [AFP]
Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina's (BiH) privatisation agencies are discussing the return of state and socially-owned enterprises and assets that were reshuffled after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
Kosovo Privatisation Agency Managing Director Shkelzen Lluka and his counterparts in BiH, Senad Rahimovic and Suhret Fazlic, agreed last week in Pristina to officially identify and return state and socially owned enterprises.
The agency told SETimes that Kosovo has already identified 20 of its enterprises in BiH, including NSH Jatex, NSH Emin Duraku, NSH Kosovashped and Trepca.
It is estimated that BiH companies have 1 billion euros worth of property in the regional countries that has yet to be returned.
Fazlic said that all of the assets of BiH firms and enterprises in Kosovo are being "used by someone else."
"Many of our companies have assets that remained there after the Balkan armed conflicts. Sanitex from Velika Kladusa has an entire factory, BiH Railways has 80 wagons in Kosovo, each worth 1 million euros," Fazlic told SETimes.
Fazlic said that BiH "will try to solve this issue through peaceful methods and return the property according to agreements."
"If there is no political will in Kosovo to return the property, we will seek it through the courts, as is the case with Serbia," Fazlic added.
BiH has initiated more than 30 lawsuits in various cities in the former Yugoslavia, including Belgrade and Zagreb.
Ibrahim Rexhepi, executive director of the Kosovo Centre for Strategic and Social Research, said any disagreements or claim of property ownership can be solved through the courts.
"If somebody exerts ownership over these enterprises, they can fix it through the court process at the Special Chamber of Kosovo Supreme Court, [which handles] privatisation issues. Claimants from the former Yugoslavia can also go through this process," Rexhepi told SETimes.
The same can be done, according to Rexhepi, for Kosovo assets in the former Yugoslav countries. "If Kosovo companies have documents proving ownership, they should address the courts in the respective countries for the return of that property," he said.
The Kosovo Privatisation Agency said its officials have engaged in talks and visits to neighbouring states, with which it has mutual understanding to protect such properties, to solve the issue of Kosovo assets. Working groups have been established to identify the remaining assets and find ways to return them to Kosovo.
According to Ylli Kaloshi, the agency's spokesperson, there are 55 socially-owned enterprises with more than 155 assets belonging to Kosovo in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. But, Kaloshi said, it has faced difficulties in implementing Kosovo laws in this issue.
"These are difficulties related to the non-legitimate interests of different institutions and persons in the former republics where these assets are ... their non-legitimate interests are related to the arbitrary usurpation of the assets of these Kosovo enterprises. There have been difficulties, especially in Serbia and Montenegro," Kaloshi told SETimes.
SETimes correspondent Drazen Remikovic in Sarajevo contributed to this report.