Will polish dreams about restitution come true?

Not long ago in Poland was established an organisation “Restitution of Kresov”, aimed to accumulate descendants of poles, forcibly resettled in 1939-40 XX century from the territory of Western Ukraine to claim for the return of seized property or compensation for it. According to the head of the organization Konrad Renkas, about 1500 of poles, who were evicted from the territory of modern Western Ukraine, claimed their ambitions to recieve restitutional payments. He told that such claims may be filed by about 150 thousend of poles with total summ of payments near 5 bln dollars.

Firstly all claims wil be passed to ukrainian institutions, and after their deviation – to thje European Court on Human Rights. K.Renkas told, that polish members of European parliament promissed their assist in this problem.

Representatives of the organisation refer on the fact, that when Poland entered EU, one of the topics was solving a problem with paying of compensations  to the descendants of ukrainians evicted from the territory of the country. Warsaw has already made all payments – they have returned from the Polish budget a fifth part of the lost property. And now Ukraine has to fulfill similar requirements.

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From a legal point of view, the issue of restitution is complex and has unpredictable results. The agreement on the association of Ukraine with the EU defines only the basic principles of cooperation in the legal sphere. It also defines the need of adjustment of Ukrainian legislation to European standards. According to article 14, cooperation in the field of justice, security and freedom of the parties should contribute to strengthening the rule of law and strengthening institutions at all levels of government – law enforcement agencies and courts. This means that the question is on the procedural and institutional aspects of the protection of citizens, and the restitution of Ukraine after accession to the EU is not mentioned.

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According to Article 471 of the Agreement, both countries must provide their own citizens and companies a free access to judicial and administrative authorities in order to protect their personal and property rights. It also mentions only the procedural side of citizens’ access to judicial and administrative bodies in order to exclude their discrimination, and Ukraine’s restitution after signing with the EU is not envisaged.

Thus we see, that the local legislation has a last word in this case. According to agreement on judical help, this questions will be solved according to the ukrainian, but not polish laws. The claims must be submitted to the ukrainian courts. The Civil Code of Ukraine began to operate on 01.01.2004 and it does not have retroactive force for the events of 1939-40 because the obligation to compensate the damage did not exist due to the absence of a corresponding law. It follows that there are no civil reasons for reimbursing the losses to the deportees and their heirs after the signing of the Association agreement with the state.

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So what are the reasons of the restitutional movement. Should we consider this as a conscious rise of Warsaw a degree of conflict on the background of global disagreements between the leaders of the two countries on foreign policy issues? And will Warsaw raise this issue at the state level, or will it leave its decision at the level of public organizations?

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