The process of the restitution of Church owned buildings in Romania

Following the fall of the communism one of the most important aims of the Hungarian community fromRomaniawas to recover the confiscated land, forest, church and community properties. Creating the legal background for this process has not been easy. Proving property rights under the law has not been a smooth process. It has not been completed and the definitive restitution itself is far from being free of contradictions. In spite of this, the past fifteen years were marked by a series of gratifications and the property restitution process is still not over.


The restitution of the Székely Mikó High School

The Romanian Government Emergency Decree 83 adopted in 1999, in its appendix listed about 30, former Church properties. One year later, in 2000, the decree was amended to include an additional 60 properties as the first decree gave the government the option to amend the appendix with a decision, based on the Committee’s proposal. The list consisted of the claims submitted by the churches.

TheSzékelyMikóCollegebuilding was included in the appendix to the decree as part of the amending decision.

The claims were reviewed by the ministers of Minority Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Finance; thereafter they were submitted to the government for approval.


Who decided the restitution?

A Restitution Committee was formed for the restitution of properties and had an examining function: it did not have to determine whether or not the properties would be restituted to their owners, but instead it had to examine whether the documentation of the respective property was in order. The land registration of the respective property could occur solely on the basis of the protocol prepared by the Committee.

The members of the Committee were appointed by the head of the respective institution: Attila Markó, the representative of the institution that initiated the law, i.e. the Office of Minority Affairs, Silviu Clim on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and Tamás Marosán, legal counsel to the episcopate, the representative of the Reformed Church that initiated the restitution. They have signed all the protocols as the representatives of the respective institutions.

The three-member Committee was active between 1999 and 2002.

Pursuant to Law 501 adopted in 2001, a new Committee was formed. However, the Committee of Attila Markó, Tamás Marosán and Silviu Clim was active until the new Committee commenced its activities in 2003, which was when the deadline for reclaiming properties in accordance with the new law expired. Up until the date of cessation, the previous Committee was able to restitute 60 pct of the properties set forth in the decree.

Unlike the previous Committee, which did not make any decisions but merely applied the law, the present Committee may now take decisions. Today, the Committee analyzes the submitted claim for restitution, examines the status of the property and makes a decision about its restitution.

Attila Markó, Tamás Marosán and Silviu Clim were not to make a decision about whether or not to return the property. If the documentation of the property was in order, they prepared a protocol for it.