Archbishop: We need a law on the return of property to religious communities

NEWS 26.12.2019 15:24
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Source: N1

Bosnia’s authorities must ensure that a law on returning pre-war property of religious communities is passed as soon as possible, religious leaders and political representatives said at a Christmas reception organised by Bosnia’s Catholic Archbishop, Vinko Puljic, on Thursday.

Among those who turned up at the Christmas reception were the Bosnian Croat member of the tripartite Presidency, Zeljko Komsic, his Bosniak colleague, Sefik Dzaferovic, the vice-President of the House of Peoples and leader of the main Bosniak party, Bakir Izetbegovic, Foreign Affairs Minister Bisera Turkovic, members of the government of Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity led by FBiH Prime Minister Fadil Novalic and many other government representatives, diplomats and religious officials.

“We are especially concerned about the law on the return of property which is not being passed while our property is being taken away, reregistered and sold without the approval of the owners, in this case, the Church,” Puljic said.

“Whenever the state provides any sort of help, that is not charity but returning a debt, as it is using out property without paying any compensation for so many years now,” he said, arguing that the Church meanwhile must purchase new property for its needs.

“This is one of the issues which authorities must tend to instead of empty rhetoric, bickering, yelling and raising tensions,” said the Bosniak member of the tripartite Presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, adding that Bosnia also needs to pass laws on the pensions and healthcare coverage of religious officials.

This is also an issue that concerns citizens in general, not only religious communities, the head of Bosnia’s Jewish Community said, arguing that if Bosnia does not return private property to its rightful owners, the country will hardly be able to prove to the European Union that it is a democratic state which meets all EU standards.

Finci said that Bosnia should follow Serbia’s lead on the issue.

“Serbia passed special laws for the return of property to religious communities, to citizens, and another one regarding the return of the Jewish property which the victims of the Holocaust left behind,” he said.