WJRO Macedonia Operations
Macedonia’s Law on Denationalization, enacted in 2000, addresses the restitution of confiscated immovable private and communal property.
The Law on Denationalization (2000) covers communal property seized beginning in August 1944 and provides for the return of property in rem when possible. In 1997, the Jewish Community of Macedonia presented the government with a list of 40 communal properties, which led to the eventual settlement of all communal property claims (in 2002).
In exchange for relinquishing all remaining communal property claims, the settlement provided the Jewish community with the following: (i) four properties – a dilapidated building and two small shops in Bitola, as well as a plot of land in Skopje, none of which yield much income; and (ii) a government bond, to be paid over 10 years (2004 – 2013), for general community needs.
The Law on Denationalization also provided, regarding private property, the following: property confiscated after August 1944 was covered; claimants had to be Macedonian citizens on the date of the law’s enactment; and compensation by government bonds, equal to the value of the property, when restitution in rem was not possible.
The claims program proceeded extremely slowly (the deadline for claims was 2004) and has been complicated by the extensive property ownership documentation required, the fact that the properties had changed hands multiple times (or were developed or renovated since the time of seizure), by lengthy bureaucratic procedures, and by various political influences.
In 2002, pursuant to the Law on Denationalization, the government set up a Holocaust Fund. The fund is responsible for managing formerly Jewish-owned heirless property (or related compensation), creating a Holocaust Museum and Education Center which opened in 2011, maintaining Jewish heritage sites (including cemeteries), and sponsoring Holocaust-related education programs.