Distribution of land after the fall of the Communist regime; method used by the village council(s), particularly in Elbasan, to distribute the land; whether young women who are single are entitled to property as a result of land distribution (1992 - December 2004) [ALB43175.E]

Information on the distribution of land in Albania after the fall of the Communist regime was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, the following information may be useful.

Distribution of Land

A 4 May 1997 article appearing on a University of Buffalo listserver but attributed to the New York Times indicated that, in 1991, a government land reform program brought about the end of collectivised farms throughout Albania. Village elders came up with strategies to redistribute the land and, according to one village elder interviewed by the New York Times, the elders' decisions had never been questioned (4 May 1997).

In 1999, the Albanian news and information network Albanews published an article that dealt with the redistribution of 60,000 hectares of land that had been in the hands of the state, and which rural inhabitants of several Albanian districts had later refused because the land in question was either isolated agriculturally poor (ATA 13 Sep. 1999). The Albanian Commission of Land Division under the Ministry of Agriculture and Food agreed to the redistribution, letting the leaders of various communes' commissions from various districts of Albania come up with a way to redistribute the formerly rejected land (ATA 13 Sept. 1999).

Several sources mentioned the disparities caused by land redistribution in Albania (Koha Jone 17 Jan. 2003; NATO June 1997, 53). Since many rural Albanians ended up receiving small plots of land, large numbers proceeded to migrate to urban areas (SEDA Nov. 2004; NATO June 1997, 53). According to a Koha Jone article, the redistribution also caused important economic disparities between the mountainous north and north-east of Albania and the more fertile and flat south and south-west of the country (17 Jan. 2003). Villages located in more mountainous areas of the country also had less arable land to divide and each owner thus typically received a smaller property than his or her counterpart who lived on the plains (Koha Jone 17 Jan. 2003; SEDA Nov. 2004). One source indicated that "[t]here is a significant number of farms that are too small to be economically viable" (SEDA Nov. 2004). According to SEDA, another consequence of the redistribution of land was the increase in unemployment among villagers (ibid.). However, SEDA went on to note that on the whole, the scheme had been a relative success, and had helped in "achieving political and social stability" (ibid.).

In 2004, Albania's Sustainable Economic Development Agency (SEDA), an organization which promotes sustainable development and future Albanian membership in the European Union (EU) (SEDA Sept. 2004), produced a paper in which it examined the social implications of reforms undertaken by Albanian authorities as of 1990. It indicated that a crucial aspect of the reform process involved the agricultural sector, particularly as far as land distribution was concerned (SEDA Nov. 2004). According to SEDA,

[d]uring 1991-94, under the land distribution reform, the land controlled by the cooperatives and state farms was allocated to families living in the villages according to several criteria. As a result, by mid-1995, 465,000 families controlled 546,000 hectares of land (ibid.).

Legal Initiatives

A 17 November 1998 Gazeta Albania article which appeared on a University of Buffalo listserver indicated that the co-chairman of the parliamentary commission for drafting a new Albanian constitution, Sabri Godo, wanted a new law on the distribution of land to be implemented within three years in order to alleviate problems related to land ownership and distribution.

A 28 May 1999 report prepared by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pointed out that among other similar types of laws one existed that called for the use of unclaimed land to compensate the losing party in cases of disputed ownership of a particular piece of land that had earlier been appropriate by Albanian authorities. The same report indicated that among the strategies to be implemented to resolve land disputes was the "reconstitut[ion of] the system of local, district and central land commissions to provide land distribution documents where these have not already been issued" (IMF 28 May 1999, sec. III D 29).

A January 2003 Albanian Daily News article highlighted the political controversy around the question of property restitution. The article mentions that while the ruling Socialist Party wished to implement a draft law that would distribute available land to, or otherwise compensate, its rightful owners, the opposition Republican Party criticized this stance by stating that "this draft [law] does not remedy the abuses made while implementing the existing land law, during the land distribution process" (Albanian Daily News Jan. 2003).

By 2004, as SEDA reported, only 80 per cent of Albanian land was actually registered, so there remained more work to do in this area (SEDA Nov. 2004). However, a publication by the International Land Coalition (ILC) indicated that by 2003, "the agricultural land [was] almost fully privatized" (Feb. 2003). According to Country Reports 2003, in 2003 the Albanian government continued to have outstanding land-claim problems (25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 1.e). For instance, the report claims that the government had not redistributed all property to its rightful owners as determined by the courts, nor had it fully compensated every owner of land expropriated during the regime of the Communist Party (Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 1.e) or returned all the land appropriated from religious institutions (ibid., Sec. 2.c). Country Reports 2003 goes on to state that new legislation to deal with land restitution, drafted with the assistance of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE), still needed parliamentary approval as at the end of 2003 (25 Feb. 2004, Sec. 1.e). Information indicating whether this law has been passed, or further corroboration of the information provided by Country Reports 2003, could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within time constraints.

Distribution of Land in Elbasan

Information on the distribution of land in Elbasan could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, a report by SEDA stated that Elbasan was one destination of internal Albanian migration, which, along with Tirana, Durres, Kruja, Pogradec, and Shkodra, was seen as one of the more economically viable regions with relatively better-than-average social services (Nov. 2004).

Distribution of Land Among Women

Information on the distribution of land among young women could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, the paper produced by SEDA indicated that the land reform had caused a higher loss of jobs among women than among men, and that "gender issues [had] emerged after 1990 all over Albania but especially in rural areas and more severe[ly] in [the] north" (Nov. 2004).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References


Albanian Daily News [Tirana]. January 2003. "Opposition to Reject Draft Law on Property Restitution." (American Bar Association Website) http://www.abanet.org/ceeli/countries/albania/jan2003.html [Accessed 7 Dec. 2004]

Albanian Telegraphic Agency (ATA). 13 September 1999. E. Xhajanka. "Some 60 Thousand ha Land to Be Divided." (Albanews/University of Buffalo Listserver.) http://listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9909B&L=albanews&P=R18143&I=-3 [Accessed 8 Dec. 2004]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003. 25 February 2004. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. "Albania." http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27820.htm [Accessed 7 Dec. 2004]

Gazeta Albania [Tirana]. 18 November 1998. Ylli Rakipi. "Deceased State." (Albanews/University of Buffalo Listserver.) http://listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9811C&L=albanews&P=R13162&I=- [Accssed 8 Dec. 2004]

International Land Coalition (ILC). February 2003. Stavari Pllaha. "South Caucasus Regional Land Policy Conference." http://www.landcoalition.org/docs/cs03cistwa.htm [Accessed 7 Dec. 2004]

International Monetary Fund (IMF). 28 May 1999. "Albania - Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility Policy Framework Paper for 1999-2001." http://www.imf.org/external/NP/PFP/1999/Albania/ [Accessed 7 Dec. 2004]

Koha Jone [Tirana, in Albanian]. 17 January 2003. Artan Fuga. "Émigration: les contradictions de la société albanaise." (Paix Balkans) http://www.paixbalkans.org/presse_albanie.htm [Accessed 8 Dec. 2004]

New York Times. 4 May 1997. Mike O'Connor. "In Rural Albania, Guns Bow to Old Ways." (Albanews/University of Buffalo Listserver.) http://listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9705A&L=albanews&P=R7700&I=-3 [Accessed 8 Dec. 2004]

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). June 1997. Marta Muço. "Economic Transition in Albania: Political Constraints and Mentality Barriers." http://www.nato.int/acad/fellow/95-97/muco.pdf [Accessed 13 Dec. 2004]

Sustainable Economic Development Agency (SEDA). November 2004. National Human Development Report. "Chapter 2: Poverty and Social Impact Assessment of Main Reforms in Albania: 1990-2004." http://www.seda.org.al/NHDR/CH2.htm [Accessed 8 Dec. 2004]

_____. September 2004. "SEDA Mission Statement." http://www.seda.org.al/home.htm [Accessed 8 Dec. 2004]

Additional Sources Consulted


An academic specializing in Albanian studies did not respond to a request for information from the Research Directorate within time constraints.

Unsuccessful attempts to contact the Albanian Helskinki Committee.

Internet Sites, including: Amnesty International (AI), The Economist, European Country of Origin Information Network (ECOI), Freedom House, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Mjaft!, World News Connection (WNC).