11 May 15
Coastal Land Grab in Montenegro Upsets Owners
Owners of valuable property on the Montenegrin coast are up in arms about about the planned adoption of special law that will allow the government to expropriate the land for the construction of a tourist complex – in which the PM’s brother and sister both have roles.
Plans by the Montenegrin government to pass a special law to enable expropriation of the private property on the coast for the construction of a tourist complex has angered the local landowners, the media reported on Monday.
A special law for the Buljarice area between the coastal towns of Bar and Budva will enable the government to seize private property, while the owners will have to subsequently sue the state if they are not satisfied with the compensation offer.
Under current expropriation law, the government cannot expropriate property unless there is a “compelling public purpose” to do so, such as the construction of roads, bridges, educational or medical facilites. If an expropriation is executed, compensation also must be provided for at the market value.
The current law does not recognize plans to develop tourist complexes as a basis for determining the public interest for expropriation.
The Buljarica site is spread over an area of 12 million square meters, of which the most attractive part is owned by more than 300 private owners. The state already owns 10 million square meters of the site.
A Qatari company, Construction Development Company International, CDCI, has expressed interest in investing over 2 billion euros in the construction of a dozen luxury hotels.
Land owners have previously said they are willing to talk about the value of the location but on condition that the land is not converted into the state property. They have asked to negotiate with the investor directly.
The owners, including some American, Italian, French and Polish citizens, joined in a group “Our home”, say they will not stand by quietly and see their property confiscated.
“This is an amazing attempt to make private property an even more private – to declare investors from some exotic destination more desirable than locals and the owners who lived there for centuries,” the group said in a statement last week.
Referring to the landowners, however, Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said they were “blackmailing investors with high prices for their land”.
The project has raised allegations of a conflict of interest as the sister of the Prime Minister, a lawyer, is the legal representative of the Qatari investors. A company owned by their brother, Aco Djukanovic, is also engaged in creating an urban plan for the development.
In April, the EU Delegation in Montenegro warned that in cases of land expropriation the Montenegrin government is obliged to respect its international obligations and to take into account the relevant judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The EU has said that legal certainty is a prerequisite for attracting investments.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)