UNRESOLVED PROPERTY RESTITUTION CLAIMS IN EASTERN EUROPE IN CONTRAST TO A PROPOSAL SOLVING THE CYPRUS PROBLEM
2004, totally disregarded by the mass-media, an international plan for solving the Cyprus problem was carefully elaborated avoiding by all means any parallels to the unresolved property claims in former communist countries.
It is rather interesting that the restitution of property to Greek Cypriots, who had to abandon their homes during the 1974 Turkish invasion was one of the main points in the UN settlement plan (31 March 2004 - Annan Plan, PDF).
Restitution and compensation were to be carried out in accordance with international and humanitarian law.
The European Commission demonstrated throughout the negotiations with the elected leaders of the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots its willingness to accommodate precisely these terms and to assist in their implementation.
However, despite the numerous demands by NGO’s to also resolve pending property claims in former communist countries before acceding the Union, the European Commission rigorously refused to include this issue in the accession negotiations and that although the Copenhagen Criteria clearly demand that the rule of law must be respected.
Furthermore, according to the requirements regarding the Stabilisation and Association process countries acceding the EU must have functioning market economies. Clear ownership to real estate is essential for the establishment of a market economy, since it will have an impact on the willingness and possibilities to make investments.
The European Commission obviously did not monitor closely nor examine accurately if the new member countries actually fulfilled these requirements, given that property claims are far from being resolved and in many countries the land registry is still not functioning as it should.
In view of the doubled standards, which have been adopted in the enlargement process, NGO’s urged Pat Cox, to intervene and according to Art 197 EC Treaty officially question the European Commission in this respect. However, the former President of the European Parliament did not even have the courtesy to confirm receiving the request, let alone answer it. Neither was the European Council very responsive in respect to this enquiry.
Obviously, in view of the Cyprus negotiations, the stereotype answer, that the EU has no competence to intervene in the matter cannot be upheld anymore and will certainly not appease the outraged victims of WW II given that they yet again have been bluntly let down by international institutions; -sometimes one really has to wonder whether the European Union actually pursues the interests of its citizens or rather those of ego-centric politicians.
It is irresponsible to believe that the integration of post communist countries in the EU will become a reality without amending past injustices. Integration means assuming responsibility for past and ongoing injustices and not turning a blind eye and hoping for the best.