• January 16, 2019
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The government announces the completion of land return, Grzegorz Sakson senses a trick

The Lithuanian government has once again announced the completion date of land return. The new deadline is 2020. At the end of 2018, Parliament adopted amendments to the Land Return Act, which are supposed to speed up the process. However, Lawyer Grzegorz Sakson senses a trick.

‘On November 8, 2018, Parliament accepted the supplement of the 6th part of the 21st article of the Land Return Act. The amendment stipulates that if in the territory attached to the municipal government after June 1, 1995 the land cannot be returned to the rightful owner, then the National Agricultural Service should propose other forms of compensation. There are three options: agricultural land, forest or water reservoirs. In the event that the persons mentioned by the Service do not appear on time, disagree or do not write the application, then they are paid a monetary compensation. Here it is worth emphasizing that this amendment applies only to rural areas connected to cities after 1995. This applies, for example, to the so-called Great Vilinius, or areas attached to the capital after 1996. Persons to whom land cannot be return in this area can write applications for giving them an equal share of agricultural land or forest “- explained zw.lt Grzegorz Sakson, a Vilnius councilman and president of the Union of Lawyers of Poles in Lithuania.

“As far as I know, the Agricultural Service in Vilnius prepares letters to people from these areas, to take advantage of this opportunity. Specific dates are to be indicated in the letters. If they fail to make use of the opportunity within the prescribed period, then they will pay the monetary compensation which will be calculated according to the existing methodology. As we know, this methodology provides for a symbolic sum. So you can say that this amendment hides a trick. On the one hand, it is good that there is a possibility that previously was not. However, when a person does not agree to such a possibility, the service can automatically grant monetary compensation. In my opinion, officials have too many powers. If the official is too formal or too malicious, he will always be able to use it. So we are dealing with such an artificial end to the land reform “- emphasized Sakson.

According to the data of the National Agricultural Service and the Vilnius City Self-Government, there are still 3 thousand legitimate owners waiting for the return of the land in the capital and about 43 percent of all applicants.

The government obliged municipal governments until January 2018 to prepare a plan of undeveloped land in municipal government units and to design plots of land to be returned to its rightful owners. The rulers also announce that the return of land that has been going on for nearly 30 years will end in the autumn of 2020.

In Vilnius, there is a real problem with undeveloped land (“free”), which is why to satisfied 100% of all clients are extremely complicated. The state has offered several ways to compensate. There was the possibility of recovering land in the form of a forest or in securities. You can also get a monetary compensation. According to the governmental methodology, per hectare of land for agricultural purposes, 2 891.53 euros are paid, while the land designated for the land at the time of nationalization amounts to 22 242.8 euros. It is worth noting that the market price for one are (depending on the location, infrastructure and other factors) in the Lithuanian capital is more or less what the state pays per hectare.

In addition, on January 12, the Parliament approved the draft amendments, which provide the forest compensation for persons applying for land return in municipal governments.

In Vilnius, the land return primarily affects people of Polish nationality. This issue has been discussed in talks between Vilnius and Warsaw for years.

Translated by Oskar Pytka within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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