Bulgarian Court Suspends Tree Felling Ban in Ex Tsar's PropertiesDomestic | August 1, 2011, Monday // 13:58| views
Former Bulgarian Tsar Simeon Saxe-Coburg, who also served as the country's PM 2001-2005, has filed a lawsuit with the ECHR in Strasbourg over the moratorium imposed on lands formerly returned to him. Photo by BGNES
Administrative Court Sofia- District (ACSD) has revoked the tree felling ban in the forests of former Bulgarian Tsar and former Prime Minister, Simeon Saxe-Coburg and his sister Maria-Louisa.
The decision adds a new twist to the saga with the so called "Tsar's estates" - the properties that were allegedly owned by the Bulgarian royal family before 1946, and that were restored to Saxe-Coburg's ownership after he became Prime Minister of Bulgaria in 2001.
Lumbering activities in the forests restored to the heirs of Tsar Ferdinand and his son, Boris III, were outlawed with a 2009 ordinance of the head of the State Forestry Borovets.
ACSD has found that the director of the State Forestry failed to clarify all facts before imposing the ban on the grounds of multiple serious violations committed by the owners.
According to the court ruling, the alleged breaches were not explained in detail and therefore remained "too general and vague".
ACSD's decision can be appealed before the Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court.
However, ACSD's decision does not allow Simeon Saxe-Coburg and his sister Maria-Louisa to carry out forest felling activities in the restored properties due to a moratorium imposed by the Bulgarian National Assembly in end-2009, which is still in force.
The ban on the lands and property returned, or given as compensation, to the heirs of former tsars Ferdinand I and Boris III included construction and business activities, and any disposal of buildings, plots of land, agricultural lands, forests and movable property which were subject to decisions enacted for the recognition and restoration of the right of property ownership.
The moratorium, propopsed by Yane Yanev, leader of the conservative Order, Law and Justice Party (RZS), and passed with the support of ruling party GERB, nationalist party Ataka and the rightist Blue Coalition, with the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) abstaining, is to remain in force until the adoption of a special law regulating the status of the so-called "ex-tsars' property".
In August 2010, it was announced that the former Bulgarian Tsar and former Prime Minister had filed a lawsuit against the state with the European Human Rights Court (ECHR) in Strasbourg over the moratorium.
In March 2011, Bulgaria's Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works filed four lawsuits in court, demanding the re-nationalization of four royal residences, Vrana, Tsarska Bistritsa, Sitnyakovoi and Saragyol, while Agriculture Minister Miroslav Naydenov asked the court to declare16 000 decares of woods restored to Simeon Saxe-Coburg and Maria-Louisa state property.