PRISTINA, 28 November 2007 Money must be made available to the Kosovo Property Agency so that it can carry out property restitution, the legal and institutional framework must be updated to accommodate the needs of displaced persons and better co-operation is needed between the Republic of Serbia and Kosovo’s Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG).Those were some of the conclusions of a conference co-organized by the OSCE Mission in Kosovo to discuss new solutions to problem of displaced persons, which remain a challenge eight years after the conflict.

“Effective restoration of property rights requires de-politicisation. The violation of property rights affects all communities in Kosovo – Albanian, Serb, Roma, Ashkaeli and Egyptian,” said Norbert Pijls, Head of the Decentralization Division at the OSCE Mission.

“The political representatives of all these communities have the moral and legal obligation to refrain from interfering in the restoration of property rights through intimidation or undue pressures. Individuals have the right to peacefully access, use and, if they want, freely sell their properties.”

The two-day conference, which ended yesterday in Pristina, was organized in co-operation with the PISG Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning and the Spanish NGO Movement for Peace.

Conference participants agreed that better enforcement is needed, as a decision on a building is not worth anything if it is not adequately enforced, or if the house is looted or occupied once again after enforcement takes place.

“Nowadays, the need of legal assistance to facilitate the access to property rights is the most common legal problem of those displaced persons coming to our offices,” said Fermin Cordoba, Legal Co-ordinator for Movement for Peace.

The conference brought together Kosovo institutions and civil society organizations as well as international and regional experts. Representatives of the Ministry of Kosovo and Metohija of the Republic of Serbia as well as the Serbian government Coordination Center for Kosovo also participated in the conference. The recommendations of the conference will be forwarded to the new Kosovo Assembly and published into a “Handbook on Property Restitution and Solutions to Displacement in Kosovo”.

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