Structures, Political Cultures and Social Practices
Edited By Christian Giordano and Nicolas Hayoz
Informality in Albania – The Case of Rural Land Tenure and Transactions
In the beginning of the 1990s, Albania embarked in a difficult transition to democracy and a market economy following the political and social changes in Central Eastern Europe (CEE) and the collapse of the communist regime of former Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha. One key reform that the country attempted to implement early on in 1991 was the land distribution reform. For nearly five decades under communist rule, agricultural land was owned by the state and managed through state-run farms and cooperatives, which were dissolved in early 1990. Through land reform, the government redistributed agricultural land “equally per capita” to rural residents (Law 7501), without any reference to the pre-collectivization property boundaries or property titles. Thus an overlap of claims emerged between pre-collectivization or so called “old owners” to inherit the land, versus “new owners” who received agriculture land through the newly implemented reform. The overlapping claims to property spurred social tensions and conflicts which two decades after continue to account for the lion share of pending civil litigation cases in Albania’s courts. In cases where the justice system fails to resolve the conflict between the claimants traditional mediators (such as local village elders, other municipal level officials, religious leaders and NGOs) are called upon to negotiate a resolution of land and property conflicts (OSCE, 2004; World Bank, 2006; Stahl et al., 2009).
These overlaps and disputes have created an environment of property insecurity. Lemel (2000), Stahl et al. (2009) and Zhllima et al....
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