THIRD SECTION

FINAL DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 53320/99 
by Strezo TRAJKOVSKI 
against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting on 7 March 2002 as a Chamber composed of

Mr G. Ress, President
 Mr I. Cabral Barreto
 Mr P. Kūris
 Mr B. Zupančič
 Mr J. Hedigan
 Mrs M. Tsatsa-Nikolovska
 Mr K. Traja, judges
and Mr V. Berger, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 1 September 1999 and registered on 13 December 1999,

Having regard to the partial decision of 18 January 2001,

Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicant,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

 

THE FACTS

The applicant, Mr Strezo Trajkovski, is a national of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, who was born in 1926 and lives in Skopje. He was represented before the Court by Mr Saško  Dukoski, a lawyer practising in Skopje.

A.  The circumstances of the case

The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.

Under the relevant legislation of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) at the material time the banks were under a duty to deposit foreign currency funds in the SFRY National Bank.

The applicant had savings in foreign currency in a State owned bank - Komercijalna Banka-Skopje before the dissolution of the SFRY.

In 1989 Komercijalna Banka paid an average monthly interest of 2.2 for savings in Deutschmarks (DEM). The same year it paid an average monthly interest of 6.9 for savings in United States dollars (US$).

In 1991 the SFRY Council of Ministers passed a decision to the effect that the withdrawal of funds from foreign currency savings accounts was possible only in instalments (see relevant domestic law). The decision was repealed in 1992.

On 8 September 1991 the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia declared its independence. On 17 November 1991 the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia adopted its Constitution and the Constitutional Law for the Implementation of the Constitution under which the laws from the SFRY remained in force except for the laws regulating the organisation and the competence of the SFRY institutions.

On an unspecified date in 1991 the applicant’s bank refused his request to allow him to withdraw his savings in foreign currency on the basis of the aforementioned decisions of the SFRY Government.

On 26 February 1992 the applicant’s funds were transferred to a new account in the same bank which was also frozen. The applicant had DEM 5,593.49 and US$ 499.91 in his new bank account; and 646 French Francs (FRF) and small amount of Swiss Francs (CHF), pounds sterling (GBP) and Austrian Schillings (ATS) in his old bank account. Both bank accounts bore the same number.

On 24 April 1992 the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia introduced its own currency. The State reserves in foreign currency were US $ 3.000.000. There were 1, 284,616 frozen bank accounts. The debt towards the holders of the accounts amounted to DEM 1.6 billion.

On 26 April 1992 the Parliament of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia adopted the Act on Undertaking the Citizens’ Foreign Currency Deposits (hereinafter referred to as the 1992 Act) concerning the personal funds put on foreign currency bank accounts which had been deposited in the SFRY National Bank. Under the Act the Government undertook the obligation to pay back the respective funds provided that they had been put in savings accounts in the banks with headquarters on its territory. The citizens were entitled to draw a limited amount out of their savings accounts. Government bonds were to be issued for the remaining sum.

On 27 July 1992 the applicant lodged a civil claim with the Skopje Municipal Court against the bank claiming back his money with the penalty interest. On 24 February 1993 his civil claim was dismissed on the grounds that under the relevant SFRY regulation the banks were obliged to deposit the natural persons’ funds in foreign currency in the Federal National Bank, and that the withdrawal of the funds from the savings accounts was possible only for the purchase of apartments, or business premises.

On 20 May 1993 the Macedonian Parliament adopted the Act on the Guarantee by the Republic of Macedonia of Foreign Currency Savings and on the Funds and Means of Repayment of Foreign Currency Savings Deposited in 1993 and 1994 (hereinafter referred to as the 1993 Act) which repealed the 1992 Act. The 1993 Act provided that the withdrawal of funds from the frozen foreign currency savings accounts was only possible for the purposes set forth in law (see relevant domestic law).

On 2 November 1993 the applicant appealed to the Appellate Court. He complained, inter alia, that funds put on frozen savings account should have borne the same interest, as thought they were put on a notice account, i.e., deposited on a contractual basis without the right to withdraw for a certain period of time.

On 13 January 1994 the Skopje Appellate Court quashed the Skopje Municipal Court’s judgment, as it found, inter alia, that the court had not based its decision on the legislation adopted by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and had not replied to the applicant’s arguments in respect of the payable interest rate. The applicant’s case was remitted for examination to the Skopje Municipal Court.

On 20 December 1995 the Skopje Municipal Court found that all savings accounts in foreign currency had been frozen by the relevant decisions of the SFRY Council of Ministers. The claims of the holders of the frozen savings accounts had been regulated by the 1993 Act of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia because the country was facing a difficult economic situation. The court rejected the applicant’s claim on the ground that he had not wished to withdraw funds from his savings account in order to purchase an apartment, business premises, or for other purposes set out by law.

As regards the interest rate, the court held that since the applicant had not concluded a contract with the bank for putting funds in a notice account he could not have received the same interest payable to the holders of such accounts.

On 6 March 1997 the Appellate Court dismissed the applicant’s appeal. It held, inter alia, that the applicant’s allegations that the bank should have paid penalty interest were ill-founded, as the accounts had been frozen by virtue of law.

On 18 March 1999 the Supreme Court upheld the lower courts’ decisions. It held that the applicable law in the applicant’s case had been the 1993 Act with its amendments. Finally, it concluded that the lower courts had rightly rejected the applicant’s action since his request to withdraw money was not made for one of the purposes provided by the Act.

In 2000 the State reserves in foreign currency had been US $ 714,000,000, whereas the debt towards the account holders had decreased by DEM 508,100,000.

On 21 April 2000 the Parliament adopted the Act on the Manner of the Re-payment of the Citizens’ Foreign Currency Deposits for which the [Former Yugoslav] Republic of Macedonia is Guarantor (hereinafter referred to as the 2000 Act) (see relevant domestic law) which repealed the 1993 Act. Under the 2000 Act the applicant’s funds on his account were converted into euros. Their amount was 4,168.10 euros. On 8 August 2000 the applicant withdrew 125.25 euros from his account. He was given Government bonds for the remaining sum.

Following the Government’s decision of 12 December 2000 on the early buy out of the bonds which were mature in 2002, the applicant received 256.21 euros.

B.  Relevant domestic law

1.  Legislation of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

a.  Law on Contractual Relations (Official Gazette of the SFRY, hereinafter referred to as OG SFRY – nos. 29/78 and 39/85)

Section 1035 provided as follows:

“1.  A contract on a monetary deposit is concluded when the bank obliges itself to accept and the depositor obliges himself or herself to deposit in the bank a certain amount of money.

2.  By this contract the bank has the right to dispose of the deposited money and the obligation to return it in accordance with conditions determined in the contract.”

Section 1038, as far as relevant, provided as follows:

“Unless otherwise agreed, ... the depositor has the right to dispose of the whole or a part of the balance [of the deposit] at any moment.”

b.  The Law on Foreign Exchange Transactions (OG SFRY no. 66/85; last amendment in OG SFRY no. 96/91)

Section 14, as far as relevant, provided as follows:

“1.  Domestic natural and legal persons may keep foreign currency on a foreign currency savings account or foreign currency savings deposit at an authorised bank and use it for making payments abroad, in accordance with the provisions of this Law.

...

3.  The foreign currency on foreign currency savings accounts or foreign currency savings deposits are guaranteed for by [the SFRY].”

Section 71, as far as relevant, provided as follows:

“1.  Domestic natural persons may sell convertible currencies to an authorised bank or other authorised exchange office or they may deposit them in a foreign currency savings account or foreign currency savings deposit with an authorised bank.

2.  Foreign currency kept in a foreign currency savings account or a foreign currency savings deposit may be used by domestic natural persons for payment of imported goods or services for his or her personal needs and the needs of close family members in accordance with the federal law governing foreign trade operations.

...

4.  Foreign currency referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article may be used by domestic natural persons for the purchase of convertible bonds, for endowments for scientific and humanitarian purposes in Yugoslavia and for payment of a life insurance with an insurance company in Yugoslavia.

5.  The National Bank of Yugoslavia shall regulate the operation of foreign currency savings accounts and foreign currency savings deposits of domestic and foreign natural persons.”

Section 103, as far as relevant, provided as follows:

“1.  The National Bank of Yugoslavia is obliged, following a request of an authorised bank, to receive into deposit foreign currency funds which has effectively been deposited by domestic and foreign natural persons in foreign currency savings accounts or foreign currency savings deposits after the entry into force of this Law.

2.  The methods and conditions for the deposition and withdrawal of foreign currency at the deposit of the National Bank of Yugoslavia shall be regulated by the Federal Executive Council on the proposal of the National Bank of Yugoslavia.”

c.  The Federal National Bank’s Decision on Methods and Conditions for the Deposition and Withdrawal of Citizens’ Foreign Currency at the Deposit of the National Bank of Yugoslavia (OG SFRY no. 73/85)

“1.  On the basis of the deposited foreign currency ... the national banks shall authorise credits to banks in dinars in an amount equal to the deposited foreign currency, which shall be established on the basis of the average daily exchange rate applicable at the end of the respective month when the foreign currency is deposited.

2.  When withdrawing foreign currency from the deposit, the bank is obliged to repay the national bank the used dinar credit in an amount equal to the amount of foreign currency withdrawn from the deposit, which shall be established on the basis of the exchange rate as applied when the same foreign currency was deposited.”

d.  The Council of Ministers’ Decision Regulating the Operation of Foreign Currency Savings Deposits of Domestic and Foreign Natural Persons (OG SFRY no. 6/91)

Paragraph 8 of the Decision confirmed the purposes for which foreign currency could be used, as prescribed in the amended Article 71.

Paragraph 10 stated as follows:

“Domestic natural persons may withdraw from their accounts foreign money, cheques and letters of credit for travelling to a foreign country in accordance with applicable regulations.”

The 1991 Decision was amended on 25 April and 16 May 1991 (OG SFRY nos. 30/91 and 36/91) by the addition of certain provisions, of which paragraph 17c established the following rules on advance announcement of withdrawals:

“Authorised banks shall execute orders to pay to domestic natural persons foreign currency deposited in their foreign currency accounts ... if such persons previously announced to the authorised banks, within the following time-limits, that they will use foreign currency in the following amounts:

an amount not exceeding DEM 500: within 15 days for the first withdrawal ... and within 30 days for any subsequent withdrawal...;

an amount not exceeding DEM 1,000: within 30 days for the first withdrawal ... and within 45 days for any subsequent withdrawal ...;

an amount not exceeding DEM 3,000: within 90 days; and

an amount not exceeding DEM 8,000: within 180 days.”

e.  The Law on Banks and Other Financial Institutions 1989 (OG SFRY no. 10/89)

Section 1, as far as relevant, provided as follows:

“A bank is an independent self-governing financial institution, which administers deposits, credits and other banking business in accordance with the law.”

Section 2 stated as follows:

“1.  A bank conducts its activities independently with a view to making profit based on the principles of liquidity, security and profitability.

2.  Banks and other financial institutions are holders of all rights, obligations and responsibilities in legal payment operations with respect to both social and other funds at their disposal which they use in accordance with the nature and purpose of financial funds.

3.  Banks and other financial institutions decide independently on the manner and form of organisation and association as well as on their activities in accordance with market conditions and profit-making, pursuant to the provisions of this and other laws.”

Section 61, as far as relevant, provided as follows:

“The liability of banks shall be settled out of the bankruptcy estate in the following order:

claims of individuals;

claims of the National Bank of Yugoslavia, [the SFRY] and other creditors who are not the founders of the bank;

claims of the founders of the bank.”

2.  Legislation of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

a.  The 1991 Constitution (Official Gazette of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, hereinafter referred to as OG RM no. 52/91)

Article 30, as far as relevant, provides as follows: 

“...

3.  No person may be deprived of his property or property rights, save [for the protection of] public interest as determined by law.

4.  If property is expropriated, or the property rights are restricted a just compensation not lower than the property’s market value is guaranteed...”

Article 52 § 4 provides as follows:

“...

Laws and other regulations may not have a retroactive effect, save if they are more favourable to the citizens.”

b.  The 1991 Constitutional Law on the Implementation of the Constitution (OG of RM no. 52/91)

Article 5 §§ 1 and 4 provides that the existing federal laws of the former Yugoslavia shall be in force in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with the exception of laws regulating the organisation and competence of the Yugoslav federal organs.

Article 6 provides that all federal laws which are inconsistent with the Macedonian Constitution shall be amended accordingly within one year from the day the Constitution has been promulgated.

c.  Act on the Guarantee by the Republic of Macedonia of Foreign Currency Savings and on the Funds and Means of Repayment of Foreign Currency Savings Deposited in 1993 and 1994 (OG of RM no. 31/93) as amended on 31 December 1994, 29 December 1995 and 30 December 1996 (OG of RM nos. 70/94, 65/95 and 71/96)

Under section 1 the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was the guarantor for the payment of domestic and foreign currency bank savings and was under a duty to provide funds.

Under section 2 the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was guarantor for the payment of funds put on foreign currency savings accounts on its territory which had been transferred to the National Bank of the SFRY by 27 April 1992.

Under section 3 the banks were not allowed to convert funds from the frozen savings accounts in another currency. The funds yielded the interest, as determined by the National Bank.

Under section 4 in order to insure the liquidity of the State funds all foreign currency savings accounts were frozen and the funds could be withdrawn, or spent only for the purposes set out by law.

Under sections 5 and 6 the State was to provide funds for the re-payment of the debt.

Under section 7 the account holders were allowed to withdraw the equivalent in domestic currency of DEM 100 per month from their frozen savings accounts provided that they had not had sufficient funds to meet their monthly needs.

Under section 8 account holders were allowed to withdraw some funds from their savings accounts in foreign currency to meet medical, wedding, funerary and school expenses, or to re-pay long-term bank credits, to pay taxes, custom duties, taxes concerning the transfer of shares, to purchase State-owned agricultural land, machines for agriculture and for other purposes set out by law.  

Under section 10 account holders were allowed to withdraw some funds from the frozen savings accounts in order to meet their medical and school expenses overseas, or purchase plane tickets.

Under section 11 in accordance with the Government’s decision the State would advance a credit of 50% of the amount paid by the banks to the holders of the frozen accounts.

d. The Macedonian National Bank’s regulations concerning the interest rate of the frozen bank savings

In 1997 and 1998 the payable interest rate for the frozen savings in DEM was 1.50, and in 1999 and 2000 it was 1.90.

In 1997 the payable interest rate for the frozen savings in US$ was 3.90; in 1998 it was 4.30; in 1999 it was 3.60 and in 2000 it was 4.30.

e. The Sale of the Communal Apartments Act (OG of RM no. 8/1993)

Section 8 provides, inter alia, that the communal apartments may be purchased by denars received from the buy out of the funds from the frozen savings accounts.

It was possible to sell funds from the frozen savings accounts to persons who wished to purchase communal apartments or business premises. Their price (not lower than 50%) was determined in accordance with the market demand.

f. The Privatisation of the State-Owned Capital Act (OG of RM no. 37/1996)

Section 13 provides that the state-owned shares in companies, banks and other state-owned securities may be purchased with funds drawn from the frozen foreign currency savings accounts.

g. Act on the Manner of the Re-payment of the Citizens’ Foreign Currency Deposits for which the Republic of Macedonia is Guarantor (OG of RM no. 32/2000)

Section 1 provides that the law shall set out the manner and the procedure for the payment of funds put on foreign currency savings accounts which were frozen and for which the guarantor is the State.

Under section 3 the banks shall convert funds from the frozen foreign currency savings accounts into euros in accordance with the National Bank’s exchange rate.

Under section 4 the holders of the foreign currency savings accounts may withdraw 3% of funds from each of their savings accounts as from 1 July 2000 provided that the amount of their funds exceeds 50 euros.

Under section 10 the bonds are negotiable and their value is expressed in euros.

Under sections 11, 12 and 13 the bonds shall be bought out in national currency twice a year within a ten year period of time, as from 1 April 2002. The interest shall be paid off twice a year, as from 1 April 2001. The applicable exchange rate shall be the average exchange rate of the National Bank’s exchange list published on the day of payment, or within thirty days from the day the bond becomes mature.

Under section 17 the bonds may be used to pay off securities and concessions, to obtain shares in State-owned companies, to pay long-term rents, to purchase communal apartments, agricultural and construction land and to obtain shares in accordance with the Reconstruction of the Banks’ Act.

Under section 21 the State may buy out the bonds at any time in accordance with the Government’s decision.

COMPLAINT

The applicant complains under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 that his right to peaceful enjoyment of his possessions has been violated in that he has been unable to withdraw money from his foreign currency savings account.

THE LAW

The applicant complains under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 that his right to peaceful enjoyment of his possessions has been violated in that he had been unable to withdraw money from his foreign currency savings account.

Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 provides as follows:

“Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.

The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.”

a)  The Government’s primary submission is that the applicant’s complaint does not come within the Court’s jurisdiction ratione temporis because it relates to events which took place before 10 April 1997, when the Convention entered into force with respect to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In particular, the applicant’s savings account in foreign currency was frozen by the SFRY regulations in 1991 and the Act settling the claims in respect of this kind of accounts was adopted in 1992.

The Court notes that although the aforementioned legislation was adopted prior to 10 April 1997 when the Convention entered into force with respect to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the last judicial decision in the applicant’s case was the Supreme Court’s decision of 18 March 1999. Furthermore, the Court notes that the Government continued to legislate on the matter after the entry into force of the Convention, notably by enacting the 2000 Act. In this connection, the Court reiterates that facts subsequent to the entry into force of the Convention in respect of one Contracting State cannot be excluded from the jurisdiction of the Court even where they are merely extensions of an already existing situation. From the critical date onwards all the State’s acts and omissions not only must conform to the Convention bur are also undoubtedly subject to review by the Court (see the Yağci and Sargin v. Turkey judgment of 8 June 1995, Series A no. 319-A, p. 16, § 40). It follows that the applicant’s complaint relates to a continuing situation, which still obtains at the present time.

The objection must therefore be dismissed.

b)  As to the substance of the complaint the Government contends that the second paragraph of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 was applicable, as the restriction on the withdrawal of funds from the applicant’s foreign currency savings account amounted to a control of use of the applicant’s possessions.

The Government further submits that the interference in question pursued a legitimate aim: preserving the liquidity of the State funds in view of the difficult economic situation in which the country found itself for years after having declared its independence. The country had a very tight budgetary regime due to the agreements concluded with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. In addition, the succession issues from the Former Yugoslavia were not settled yet.

The Government emphasises that the measure in question aimed at regulating the situation of a great number of holders of bank accounts and had not imposed a particular burden on the applicant. Furthermore, the 1993 Act permitted in certain cases withdrawals from the frozen savings accounts and entitled the applicant to receive interest.

The Government states that despite the difficult economic situation the Parliament adopted the 2000 Act under which the applicant was able to withdraw a certain amount of money from his account and was given negotiable Government bonds yielding an interest. The bonds would be bought out in forty instalments by the Government. As from 19 September 2000 the bonds were traded on the exchange market. The initial market value of 60.91% of their nominal value increased in February 2001 to 71.1%. In sum, a fair balance was struck between the applicant’s individual rights and the public interest to protect the liquidity of State funds.

The applicant maintains that for years he was faced with the uncertainty, as to whether one day he could dispose of funds from his frozen savings account.

He further contends that only 7% of the frozen foreign currency savings remained with the Federal National Bank. The rest of the money was ill spent by the Government.

The applicant argues that the bank should have provided the same interest with that payable for notice account and that if he had the money from his savings account at his disposal he would have put them in a private bank with a higher interest rate.

The Court recalls that Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 comprises three distinct rules. The first, which is expressed in the first sentence of the first paragraph and is of a general nature, lays down the principle of peaceful enjoyment of property. The second rule, in the second sentence of the same paragraph, covers deprivation of possessions and subjects it to certain conditions. The third, contained in the second paragraph, recognises that the Contracting States are entitled, amongst other things, to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest. These rules are not “distinct” in the sense of being unconnected: the second and third rules, which are concerned with particular instances of interference with the right to peaceful enjoyment of property, are to be construed in the light of the general principle laid down in the first rule (The Former King of Greece and Others v Greece [GC], no. 25701/94, § 50, ECHR - 2000-XII).

The Court notes that under the 1993 Act applicant’s bank savings remained frozen. However, the same Act provided that the holders of these accounts, like the applicant, could withdraw certain amounts for some specific purposes enumerated in this and other Acts. In particular, he was able, inter alia, to withdraw certain amounts from his account, to use the funds from it, in order to purchase communal apartments, business premises, shares or even to sell the frozen savings like a commodity to the persons wishing to purchase communal apartments or business premises in accordance with relevant laws. In addition, although frozen the accounts provided interest.

The Court finds that the contested measures which affected the applicant’s savings account did not amount to an expropriation. There was no transfer of the applicant’s property nor was he deprived completely of his right to use it. These measures which, admittedly, substantially limited the applicant’s right to dispose of his funds amounted in the circumstances merely to a control of the use of property. Accordingly, the second paragraph of Article 1 applies in this instance. 

The second paragraph reserves to States the right to enact such laws, as they deem necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest.

In order to implement economic policies, the legislature must have a wide margin of appreciation both with regard to the existence of a problem of public concern warranting measures of control and as to the choice of the detailed rules for the implementation of such measures. The Court will respect the legislature’s judgment as to what is in the general interest unless that judgment is manifestly without reasonable foundation (see the Mellacher and Others v. Austria judgment of 19 December 1989, Series A no. 169, pp. 25-26, § 45).

As regards the aim of the interference the Court notes that the deposits in frozen accounts amounted to DEM 1.6 billion in 1991 and approximately DEM 1 billion in 2000. Taking into consideration the economic situation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia during the relevant period, an uncontrolled withdrawal of these deposits would have undoubtedly affected the liquidity of the banks and of the State funds and affected the monetary and budgetary policy. The Court, therefore, accepts that the contested measure had a legitimate aim in the public interest.

As regards the proportionality of the interference, the Court recalls the Mellacher and Others judgment previously cited (p. 27, § 48), where it stressed that the second paragraph of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 had to be construed in the light of the principle laid down in the first sentence of the Article. Consequently, an interference must strike a fair balance between the demands of the general interest of the community and the requirements of the protection of the individual’s fundamental rights (see, among other authorities, the Sporrong and Lönnroth v. Sweden judgment of 23 September 1982, Series A no. 52, p. 26, § 69). The concern to achieve this balance is reflected in the structure of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 as a whole (ibid.), and therefore also in its second paragraph. There must be a reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means employed and the aim pursued. Expressed in other terms, the Court must assess whether, taken overall, the applicant can be said to have suffered an “individual and excessive burden” (see the James and Others v. the United Kingdom judgment of 21 February 1986, Series A no. 98, p. 34, § 50).

The Court notes that the 1993 Act regulated a situation which had already existed for a number of years and which originated from the difficult circumstances under which the SFRY had disolved.

Under the impugned Act and other relevant legislation the applicant was entitled to withdraw a certain amount from his deposits for one or the other of the purposes enumerated in the Act, namely to withdraw the equivalent in domestic currency of DEM 100 per month provided that he did not have sufficient funds to cover his monthly needs, he could cover his medical or school expenses in the country and overseas, his wedding and funerary expenses, or to re-pay long-term bank credits, to pay taxes, custom duties, taxes concerning the transfer of shares, to purchase State-owned agricultural land, machines for agriculture, etc. He was also empowered under the Sale of the Communal Apartments Act and the Privatisation of the State-Owned Capital Act to purchase communal apartments and state-owned shares in companies, banks and other state-owned securities. The applicant was further able to sell his frozen savings as a commodity to persons who wished to purchase communal apartments or business premises.

The Court further notes that the applicant’s allegation according to which he should have benefited from the same interest rate as the one applicable to the notice accounts had no basis in domestic law. Besides the interest rate applicable to the applicant’s deposits, after the freezing of his account, did not considerably diminish in comparison with that in force before the decision to freeze the accounts was taken.

Finally, the Court notes that the 2000 Act repealed the 1993 Act. The 2000 Act provides wider possibilities to use the money from the frozen account. In particular, the holders of the frozen bank savings received State bonds which would be bought out in national currency twice a year within a ten year period of time with interest. The bonds may, inter alia, be used to pay off securities and concessions, to pay long-term rents, to purchase communal apartments, agricultural and construction land. The Court notes that the applicant availed himself of the possibilities offered to him by the former Act and withdrew certain amounts in euro in the space of four months.

Having regard to the need to strike a fair balance between the general interest of the community and the right of property of the applicant, and of all those in the same situation with him, the Court considers that the means chosen were suited to achieving the legitimate aim pursued.

It follows that the application is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Declares the application inadmissible.

Vincent Berger Georg Ress 
 Registrar President

 TRAJKOVSKI v. THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA DECISION


TRAJKOVSKI v. THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA DECISION