Albania to Review Property Titles in Coastal Areas. Suspends Controversial 7501 Law.

Tirana, March 30 Tirana Echo) – Albania’s government has announced it will review all property titles in coastal agricultural areas following a suspension of the 7501 infamous law, despite strong criticism by opposition parties.

The Head of the Agency for the Legalization, Urbanization and Integration of Informal Areas and Constructions (ALUIZNI) Mr. Artan Lame said on Wednesday that the verification of ownership titles on agricultural land formerly owned by the Agricultural Enterprises in the coastal areas will start with the southern coastal Vlora region.

Lame said that title deeds of at least 30,000 properties will be examined and the Task Force established at Prime Minister’s Office entrusted with these verifications will be chaired by Briseida Shehaj, the controversial former Head of the Tax Administration.

However, the opposition strongly objects to the decision pointing to clientele interests in coastal areas. Democratic Party (DP) MP Oerd Bylykbashi described as unconstitutional the government’s decision to suspend procedures for issuance of the ownership titles in regards to the agricultural land formerly owned by the Agricultural Enterprises in the coastal areas and verification of related title-deeds.

Speaking to Klan TV, he said the decision is designed to help the Prime Minister’s clients grab land in coastal areas. Bylykbashi also said that since the Constitutional Court is de facto out-of-order, the only way for the lawful owners affected by the said decision is to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Albania suffers from chronic land ownership problems, often resulting in violent conflict between disputing parties. Since the fall of communism in 1991, the small Balkan country decided to return agricultural land to ‘hose who work the land’ instead of returning it to the original owners from whom the land was confiscated by the former communist government. The law is dubbed as the infamous 7501 Law and has been disputed by original land owners for almost three decades now.

Albania’s land ownership is one of the main obstacles to foreign investors in touristic areas and the EU has asked the country to sort out its property titles before it hopes to join the union.

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