Land Ownership in Kosovo
Although Kosovo is technically a part of Serbia, only 5% of its population is Serbian, while 90% is Albanian. Serbs now live mainly in enclaves surrounded by Albanians. The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) protects them. The situation is still tense. If a Serb’s business or land lies outside the enclave access is often through a checkpoint.
Host: Although Kosovo is technically a part of Serbia, only 5% of its
population is Serbian, while 90% is Albanian. Serbs now live in
enclaves surrounded by Albanians. The UN Mission in Kosovo
protects them. The situation is still tense. If a Serb’s business or
land lies outside the enclave, access is often through a checkpoint.
Darko Jovanovic: In this old house, he was born, my grandfather and my father as
Host: Darko Jovanovic lives in the Serb enclave of Gorazdevac. He’s
being escorted the few hundred meters to visit his smallholding
outside the village. He owns an orchard and a vineyard. Although
HPD got Darko his apartment back, they can’t help with his land.
Darko Jovanovic: This is my land here. All this land belongs to my family. There is a
nut tree over there. This is the landmark of my agricultural estate.
Albanians, they are using this property as their own for cattle and
to use the grass from this land. This is a grape plant which I used to
plant and now everything is taken away. This is done by the saw. If
they want to take some fruit, they can do it. It is not forbidden but
not to destroy the land, not to destroy my trees. Those are not my
Host: Whilst showing us around his small holding, Darko is interrupted
by an Albanian neighbor illegally grazing his cows on Darko’s
He says he got permission.
Interviewer: Who did he get permission from?
Male: The neighbor called Binac.
Female: They are arguing about the lands again and he’s telling to him, “If
you don’t like, I will never use it again”. He’s saying that “It is not
fair because you could at least ask me to use it”.
Host: For now, in Kosovo, there is no effective mechanism by which
Darko can get his land back.
During the war, the cadastral records of land ownership were taken
by Serbia. Cadastre is a land register. It’s a Domesday Book that
says who owns what.
The UN Mission in Kosovo—took on the task of creating a new
cadastre. It is still incomplete.
Male: Is this the parcel of land that you think might belong to Mr. Darko
Male: If you look by number, it’s not in his name.
Host: The cadastre is now run the provisional local government.
Male: No, it’s not just this—belongs to this number. I need more clear
Murat Meha: The reconstruction of cadastre is a main thing because we want to
harmonize all data, what is on the field with data in the—database.
Male: A parcel for which you are asking is in this plan.
Murat Meha: It is very important because we have a big gap between data in
cadastre and the situation of the field.
Host: Down in southern Kosovo, Toncho Zourlev, the HPD’s bailiff, is
back in action.
Toncho Zourlev: So, would you please open it for us, the door?
Host: At this place, getting in is easy, a sign that HPD’s authority is
being accepted across Kosovo.
Toncho Zourlev: How many rooms here do we have? It was a family living here?
Big family? Not so big, four members. Thank you very much.
The lady was not a member of the family of the occupants but they
have left the key from the door to the lady, asking her, when HPD
comes, to deliver the key just to prevent destruction of the door
David Chillaron-Cortizo: When did they left?
Toncho Zourlev: She says they left a couple of hours ago.
David Chillaron-Cortizo: So they knew that HPD was coming?
Toncho Zourlev: Yes, they knew very well that HPD was coming, which means that
it is a real voluntary vacating of the property.
Frankly speaking, I am very happy with what we have seen
because this is a real case, a real case proving that now we have a
new phenomena and the new phenomena is the voluntary vacating
of the properties.
Host: Back in divided Mitrovica, there is a particular property dispute
that can’t have gone unnoticed by either the UN or the local police.
This bridge is the Checkpoint Charlie of Mitrovica. It’s here that
Slavko Mandic can almost see the property he owns but can’t use.
Slavko Mandic: I am the owner of the restaurant on the other side of the river.
Unfortunately, that is so close but so far.
Interviewer: Who now owns the restaurant?
Slavko Mandic: I am the owner of that restaurant but somebody else is now using
Host: Mr. Mandic crosses the bridge under protection.
David Chillaron-Cortizo: Mr. Mandic’s apartment is just across the river in the
northern side where the Serbian population is living. He has been
trying to recuperate the possession of the restaurant. He contacted
us, HPD, but we have no jurisdiction. We have no mandate on
Host: This is the first time Mr. Mandic has seen his restaurant for two
years. As it stands, there is nothing more he can do to get it back.
The Kosovo Albanian who uses the restaurant has even changed
Slavko Mandic: I tried to do everything but as you see, still nothing happens. I will
try to get back my property until I die.
Host: The main clientele of the restaurant comes from the buildings
flanking it, the UN HQ and the police station.
Land Ownership in Kosovo
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