Bulgaria's ruling group challenges land purchases ban

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 01, 2013 9:35 AM
Bulgaria's ruling group challenges land purchases ban

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's ruling alliance asked the country's top court on Friday to quash a widely criticized ban on arable land acquisitions by foreigners to avert infringement action by the European Union.

Parliament last month endorsed the extension of a moratorium on such purchases until 2020, as advocated by nationalist Attack party. This was despite warnings from Brussels that this may trigger an accession treaty review of the EU's poorest member.

The request to overturn the extension, filed to the Constitutional Court earlier in the day, was signed by 19 ruling Socialist deputies and 36 ethnic-Turkish MRF junior allies. Together with MRF, the Socialists control half of parliament seats - one short of a majority.

The cabinet has enjoyed some support from Attack to pass legislation in parliament. However, the motion extending the ban had passed with the help of Socialist deputies who fear that low prices could trigger a surge in foreign purchases of land and price domestic farmers out of the market.

"We hope that the Constitutional Court will rule as quickly as possible because this is a very important issue," said MRF deputy Cetin Kazak.

Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski said last week Bulgaria would look at finding a way to review the extended ban.

Foreigners have been allowed to acquire land in Bulgaria through Bulgarian-registered companies since the country's 2007 EU admission.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Writing by Radu Marinas)