The government took a step toward reaching its restitution goals when it enacted the 2000 Denationalization Law. For a five-year period following its adoption, the law afforded former owners and their successors the right to claim properties that had been confiscated after August 1944, when the first meeting of the Anti-fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia was held. The law required claimants to provide proof of Macedonian citizenship and evidence of ownership or legal successor status of private or communal property.
Additionally, in April 2002, the government approved the formation of the “Holocaust Fund of the Jews of Macedonia,” establishing the Jewish-community directed Fund as the recipient of heirless and unclaimed Jewish property in the country. The government and the Fund signed an agreement in December 2007 under which the government would make payments to the Fund between 2009 and 2018 as restitution for confiscated Jewish property. These payments totaled approximately $25.6 million, including the final installment of $6.7 million disbursed in June 2018.
Under the Denationalization Law, if a former owner or heir later claimed property for which compensation had already been paid to the Fund, the Fund would not be required to compensate the claimant. The Fund considers that all Holocaust-era immovable property restitution claims have been resolved. The Jewish community reported no outstanding claims for immovable property in North Macedonia, although they added that foreign citizens can still seek compensation in civil proceedings. (Only one person is known to have sought property restitution outside of the criteria set forth in the Denationalization Law through such civil proceedings.)
Representatives of the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), however, expressed concern that the 2000 Denationalization Law excluded claimants and heirs who were no longer citizens, including Holocaust survivors and their families who now live in the United States or other countries. The WJRO reported that during a March 2019 meeting with representatives from Prime Minister Zaev’s office, it was agreed that the WJRO would assist the government in determining whether there were outstanding claims for individuals who were not citizens. The government additionally expressed willingness to establish a working group to look into the matter. The WJRO subsequently estimated that there were approximately 100 outstanding claims and committed to provide an advisor to the working group to work with the country’s Jewish community to identify individual claimants.