European Union Calls for Property Restitution in Bosnia
For First Time, European Parliament Considers Seized Property in Reviewing Bosnia’s Membership Application
(Strasbourg, France) February 13, 2019: The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) welcomes the adoption of a European Parliament Resolution on the 2018 Commission Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which the EU Parliament calls upon Bosnia and Herzegovina to address property restitution.
This is the first time that the European Parliament has officially raised restitution of seized property, including during the Holocaust, in considering Bosnia’s application to become an EU member state.
“WJRO is proud to have supported this key article in the European Parliament resolution,” said Gideon Taylor, WJRO Chair of Operations. “We urge Bosnia and Herzegovina to pass legislation for the return of private and communal property.”
“This vote by the European Parliament is a powerful call for long-awaited legislation in Bosnia to provide justice for Holocaust survivors and their families, and to the Jewish community and other religious communities,” commented Ambassador Jakob Finci, President of Jewish Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The resolution, which responds to the 2018 Commission Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina and which was spearheaded by MEP Cristian Dan Preda (EPP, Romania), Member of the EU Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, was passed with 468 votes to 123 and 83 abstentions.
In its resolution, the European Parliament “Calls on BiH to ensure the right to property; points out the lack of a comprehensive legislative framework on handling restitution claims and encourages the authorities to open a dialogue with interested parties on issues pertaining to the restitution of, or compensation for, seized property.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina has no law for the restitution of communal or private property confiscated during the Holocaust era or subsequently nationalized by the Communist regime. Since 1995, the date of an ad hoc system established by local authorities in Bosnia to determine legal ownership of property, the Jewish community has not received a single confiscated communal property back.
Approximately 14,000 Jewish people lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina prior to the Holocaust, including 12,000 in Sarajevo. After World War II, around 2,000 returned. Today, about 1,000 Jewish people reside in the country.