The procedure of registration of immovable property in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not acknowledge the fact that a big number of Serbs left the country in the 1990s civil war and now live around the world, on all continents and that many of them do not even know the process is underway, says Mladjen Cicovic, head of the Republika Srpska Representative Office in Serbia.
He told Srna that once the Belgrade media reported about the registration of real estate and a possibility of abuse of Serb property, many people interested in the matter addressed the Representative Office seeking an explanation as to what was actually going on in the FBiH.
“Information that appeared in the media, as much as it incriminated the FBiH authorities, it also helped and shed some light on the problem regarding the harmonisation of data between land registers and cadastre,” said Cicovic.
He explained that the property registration project in the FBiH has been implemented since September 23, 2013 and that all interested parties, once they learn from an announcement by the competent body about the procedure for establishment and harmonisation of data between land registers and cadastre, are obliged to submit two copies of an application for property ownership and prove the right within 60 days.
“The deadline may be extended for at least 90 days to allow people to obtain the required evidence. The persons who could not learn about the procedure may report their ownership or some other right over the property within 60 days from the day of learning about the procedure or 12 months at most from the start of the process,” said Cicovic.
In his opinion, the concern and fear among the Serbs living in the Federation or those who fled the Entity during the war could only be dispelled by much more inclusive steps which he believes the authorities there are not willing enough or prepared to make.
Cicovic pointed out that the FBiH Geodetic and Property Affairs Administration, one of the institutions in charge of implementing the registration project, announced that deadlines were actually in place, that they were short and that the Serb citizens had no reason to worry.
“This announcement made the Serbs even more suspicious, concerned and even frightened that they would lose their property, and in my opinion, after everything the Serbs in BiH went through in the war and to this day when it comes to their property, this is is understandable and not a surprise at all,” said Cicovic.
This major work, which is carried out by the Federation of BiH, should be announced much more frequently and in many different ways, said Cicovic.
“It should be published by the media in the countries to which the Serbs fled during the war, and also through diplomatic and business representative offices of BiH in the region and beyond. Naturally, the best and safest way would be to invite people directly on the basis of addresses available to the competent bodies, by means of the data in the register, and the data cited in the applications for restoration of property or repair of destroyed buildings,” Cicovic said.
In the end, it remains unclear why the FBiH Geodetic and Property Affairs Administration did not use all the resources back in 2013 when it started the project to inform the people around the world about this important statutory obligation, he said.
Cicovic finally concluded: “Had that happened back then, we wouldn’t have so much suspicion in the implementation of this project and citizens would be prepared to finish the job.”