Bassil Tells Muallem, Gutteres: Lebanon Concerned about New Syria Land Law

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil sent a message to his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem and UN Chief Antonio Guterres in which he expressed Lebanon's concern about the “negative repercussions” that could results of a property law issued recently in Syria, the National News Agency reported on Saturday.

Bassil stressed the significance of that Decree No. 10 in encouraging many displaced Syrians to return to their regions, but emphasized that “Lebanon fears that the conditions of implementation would make only quite a few of the displaced return to their areas.”

The Urban Renewal Law, commonly known as Decree 10, allows the government to take private property to create zoned developments, compensating owners with shares of the new projects.

Under Decree 10, once Syria's government designates a development zone, authorities have one month to publicly notify landowners of the shares option.

Those with deeds in government registries automatically receive shares, but those without must prove ownership within 30 days.

Bassil explained in his letter that the thirty-day time limit given to real estate owners to prove ownership is not sufficient.

“The procedures of advertising and publication relating to Decree 10 and the thirty-day deadline for owners to prove their ownership is insufficient to inform the displaced persons in a timely manner,” said Bassil.

“Inability of the displaced to practically prove their ownership within the given period of time may cause them to lose their property and sense of national identity which deprives them of one of the main incentives for their return to Syria,” he warned.

He expressed his hope the "issue will receive the necessary attention by the Syrian government based on keenness of the two countries on the return of the displaced to their homes as soon as possible."

He reiterated “Lebanon's adherence to its constitutional right to prevent settlement and its principled stance that the only sustainable solution for the Syrian displacement crisis is the safe return of displaced persons to safe areas inside Syria, while respecting non-forced return or linking the return to anything, such as a political solution.”

Source: Naharnet, Agence France Presse

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