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October 22, 2008

Church and State Reach Agreement on Bled Island Ownership

The Ljubljana Archdiocese and the Culture Ministry have finally reached an agreement on the ownership of the Bled island, one of Slovenia's best known landmarks. The island on the lake Bled will remain state-owned, while the buildi on the island, including the famous church, will be given to the Bled parish.

Bled

In line with the agreement, which was confirmed by the government on 9 October, the Ljubljana Archdiocese will also withdraw the appeal it has addressed to the European Court of Human Rights regarding the denationalisation claim for the island. In return, the Bled parish, which owns the famous church on the island, will get back other buildings on the island. Janez Ambrozic of the Bled parish is satisfied with the solution. He told STA on Wednesday that the parish would now continue to work in peace. The Ljubljana Archdiocese and the Culture Ministry were not available for comment.

The agreement ends years of attempts to settle the denationalisation claim by the archdiocese, which wanted the island to be returned to the Roman Catholic Church in kind. In 2006, the Supreme Court overturned a ruling by the Administrative Court from 2002 that the Church should be returned the island. The Bled parish then appealed at the Constitutional Court, challenging the Supreme Court's decision.

The Constitutional Court has upheld the ruling of the Supreme Court in June 2007, and the island was not returned to the Church in kind and remained in hands of the state. According to the Supreme Court, the ruling was based on the fact that the island is a natural and cultural monument and as such cannot be decided on in legal procedures.

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