Bulgarian government trying to dig itself out of land sale moratorium hole

Written by on October 25, 2013 in Bulgaria - No comments

The Bulgarian Socialist Party government wants to find a way to scrap the resolution handed to it by Parliament, supported by many of its own MPs, to extend to 2020 the moratorium on the sale of land to foreigners.

Approval of the resolution, which was tabled by ultra-nationalist Ataka party leader Volen Siderov, has proved a major embarrassment for the gaffe-prone BSP government and has caused ructions within the party and with its political partner, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

The resolution, to override the scheduled end of the moratorium on January 1 2014, goes against the provisions of Bulgaria’s accession treaty with the European Union and has been derided by critics as of questionable constitutionality and as likely to cause offence at the highest levels of the EU.

It has been described by a number of commentators as impractical given the effective impossibility of Bulgaria securing the amendment of its EU accession treaty in this respect before January 1 2014, while other critics have deemed it absurd because it has been common practice for those foreigners who want to buy land to do so through Bulgarian-registered companies.

Since approval by Parliament of the resolution – with the support of Ataka, Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB opposition party, most BSP MPs but with the MRF voting against – there has been the thus-far unusual spectacle of figures in the BSP government hitting out at a decision approved with the help of their own MPs.

Plamen Oresharski, appointed to sit in the prime minister’s chair in the BSP government after the May 2013 elections, told reporters on October 24 that “we will find a way to reconsider this bad decision, which is the result of political emotion and not of a rational approach”.

Others who have criticised the decision are Kristian Vigenin, holder of the foreign affairs portfolio, and Zinaida Zlatanova, a former European Commission official who now is justice minister and deputy prime minister, who told reporters that she felt “uncomfortable” about the parliamentary resolution.

The vote has come in for extensive criticism in the Bulgarian-language media, with mass-circulation daily Trud calling it “blatant stupidity guaranteed by hypocrisy of the basest type” while 24 Chassa ran an opinion piece on the absurdities of the decision, including points such as the two million hectares of land lying uncultivated in Bulgaria and that the resolution could put Bulgaria in the position of being the only of 28 EU member states to violate its accession treaty.

From outside Parliament, Radan Kunev, leader of the Democrats for a Strong Bulgaria which is part of the right-wing Reformist Bloc, described the resolution as “bordering on criminal stupidity”.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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