International Conference on the Restitution of Property to the Church and Religious Communities in Serbia
On the 21st of December, 2007, an International Conference on the Restitution of Property to the Church and Religious Communities was held in AP Vojvodina's Parliament in Novi Sad. The Serbian Orthodox Church was represented by Rt. Rev. Vasilije, Bishop of Srem, Rt. Rev.Irinej, Bishop of Backa, as well as the Legal Advisor of the Patriarchy's Administration Office, Mr. Milan Andric.
Representatives of other traditional churches and religious communities also attended the Conference - the Roman-Catholic Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church in Serbia, the Islamic and Jewish Communities as well as other protestant churches.
In his brief introduction, the Restitution Directorate's director, Vladimir Todorovic, illustrated expropriation grounds starting form 1946 up until 1958. He agreed that the restitution process was expensive and at the same time indispensable. The restitution of property represented one of the essential EU requirements, but also an ethic imperative in order to redress injustice.
Furthermore, he pointed out that most of the requests submitted so far regarded agricultural land.
Up to date the Directorate has received a total of 813 requests, while proceedings have been introduced for 249 of them. The Serbian Orthodox Church has filed 632 requests, with 211 proceedings introduced. The Roman-Catholic Church has filed 83 requests, with 22 proceedings introduced. The Jewish Community has filed 57 requests, with proceedings introduced for two of them. The Islamic Comunity has filed 3 requests, the Reformed Church 11, with proceedings introduced for two of them. The Romanian Orthodox Church has filed 18 requests, with proceedings introduced for 11 of them.
Representatives from neighboring countries described their experiences with the restitution process before participants took part in the final discussion.
Legal Advisor of the Patriarchy's Administration Office