UNUnited Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Press Releases 1997



7 May 1997

Commercial and residential real estate markets are not fully functioning in the countries of central and eastern Europe and the CIS and this is holding back economic development in the region. This has been the conclusion of studies and analyses prepared by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) over recent years. Now ECE has decided to launch a new initiative to tackle this problem which involves the establishment of a UN/ECE Real Estate Advisory Group consisting of private sector experts from banks and international real estate enterprises as well as senior real property lawyers.

The Chairman of the Real Estate Advisory Group (RE-AG) is Mr. Robert Hall, Senior Partner with Baker & McKenzie, UK, London. Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Group at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Mr. Hall outlined the mission of the Group and the benefits that will flow to transition economies when land is better secured in financial transactions. "Real estate is an economic asset which has over many years all over the world played an enormous role in banking and investment. Only when real property can be secured through the proper functioning of laws, regulations and institutions can countries derive the full economic benefits from this resource."

"The purpose of the Group", he said, "will be to advise and persuade authorities that property can be used to excellent effect without damage to the environment and to society. It will offer Governments advice on many of the technical and legal issues related to this activity."

Speaking on assistance to transition economies, Mr. Hall acknowledged the already tremendous effort by international organizations, including UN/ECE, that has greatly benefited many countries particularly in central Europe. "However", he said, "some Governments often need help to implement the advice they are receiving and the UN, as an independent and unbiased source, could help in the removal of bottle-necks." "Also", he said, "many of the barriers to the proper use of real estate were not at the national level but at the level of city and local authorities where the representatives at this level were often slow in divesting property to the emerging private sector. Removing this bottle-neck", he said, "would be a major challenge for the Group."

RE-AG plans its first mission to Latvia in the summer and further missions are being planned for Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The work is being coordinated with the EBRD, World Bank and the European Union. It is a joint activity of the ECE Working party on International Contract Practices in Industry (W.P.5) (under whose aegis RE-AG will operate) and the Meeting of Land Administration officials. Mr. David Winter O.B.E. (the Chairman of W.P.5) welcomed the setting up of RE-AG and confirmed W.P.5's full support for it.


Participants at the Inaugural Meeting of the
UN/ECE Real Estate Advisory Group (RE-AG)

RE-AG Chairman Mr. Robert Hall (Baker & McKenzie)

Mr. Peter Champness RICS (The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors)

Mr. Christopher Drury (Partner, JLW)

Mr. Steven D. Shone (Partner, Cameron McKenna)

Mr. Peter R. Welburn (Welburn & Co.)

Mr. David Winter OBE (Baker & McKenzie)

Mr. Jean Lavieille (Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations)

Mr. Michael Belton (Hines Ltd.)

Prof. Manfred Meier-Preschany (M.P. Consult + Partner GmbH)

Dr. Ekkehard zur Megede (Deutsche Hypothekenbank Frankfurt AG)

Mr. Juan Sosa (Price Waterhouse)

Mr. Lionel Shelley (TWK/Troostwijk)

Mr. Martti Hautala (National Land Survey Finland)

Ms. Malina Smith-Elson (Malson's International Ltd)

Mr. Hans Friedrich Geretshauser (TOB/Treuhand Osteuropa Beratung)

Mr. Indulis Abelis (Permanent Mission of the Republic of Latvia to the UN)

Mr. Bernhard Bischoff (TLG/Treuhand Liegenschafts-Gesellschaft)

Mr. Csaba Csaki (The World Bank)

Mr. Helmut Döring (BMWi/Ministry of Economics)

Ms. Christine Hawrylshyn Batruch (Council of Advisors to the Ukraine Government)


Mrs. Dunja Pastizzi-Ferencic (UN/ECE)

Mrs. Carol Cosgrove-Sacks (UN/ECE)

Mr. Erik Stackelberg (UN/ECE)

Mr. Guennadi Vinogradov (UN/ECE)

Mr. Geoffrey Hamilton (Regional Adviser, UN/ECE)

Mr. Wolfgang Gehner (UN/ECE)


Mr. Gordan Markotic (Permanent Mission of the Republic of Croatia to the UN)

Mr. Peter Havlik (Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the UN)

Mr. Péter Montvai (Permanent Mission of Hungary to the UN)

Mr. Mederbek Shatmanov (Kyrgyzstan Government)