Istria County Prefect Ivan Jakovcic has expressed satisfaction with the justice ministry's decision to return title deeds over grounds and real estate in Dajla, which were awarded to the Church in the late 1990s, to the previous owner.
"I agree with that decision, but I hold that the ownership of real estate which has been sold by the Church to new owners in the meantime, should not be questioned," the prefect told a news conference in Pula on Friday.
According to him the current owners of those sold parts have acquired that property "legally and in good faith".
Therefore they could not be bereft of their property as this would have a disastrous consequences for the legal system in Croatia, Jakovcic said.
He accused the Croatian governments in the 1990s of taking away property from the town of Novigrad and awarding it to the parish of Dajla according to political criteria.
Jakovcic said that the response from the Vatican was as expected but that he was disappointed with the conduct of the Holly See in the case.
He said that this was not an internal matter in the Church and that all of this was about the compliance with the Croatian laws and bilateral agreements with Italy and with the Vatican.
Therefore, Jakovcic proposes the establishment of a joint commission consisting of officials from the justice ministry, the county, the diocese of Porec and Pula and authorities from Novigrad and the municipality of Brtonigla to analyse individually every plot in the area concerned.
The head of the Holy See Press Office, Federico Lombardi, was quoted by the Italian news agency ANSA as saying on Thursday that he was sincerely surprised at a decision made by the Croatian Justice Minister a day before on declaring the restitution of the Dajla monastery to the Catholic Church null and void.
The news about the justice ministry's decision to cancel the decision made by the property affairs office of Istria County on the restitution of real estate to the parish of Dajla causes astonishment because the latest decision is really extraordinary and also because the Croatian premier has shown the intention to see to it that the issue is solved in the spirit of cooperation between Croatia and the Holy See, Lombardi was quoted by ANSA as saying.
In addition, this act is not in compliance with the principles of legal security, the dignitary said.
Lombardi said that the parties concerned should be given an opportunity to question the latest decision before relevant institutions.
The Croatian Justice Ministry has declared as null and void a decision by Istria County whereby land on the Church and civil areas of the Benedictine monastery Dajla was given to the Dajla parish, and thus enabled the Republic of Croatia to be entered in land registers as the owner of the said real estate.