Land Sale Ban Challenged in Bulgarian Constitution Court

Bulgaria in EU | November 1, 2013, Friday // 11:44|  views

Lyutvi Mestan, leader of Bulgaria's liberal ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms, photo BGNES

Three lawmakers from the liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS, have submitted the claim challenging before the Constitutional Court the controversial ban on land sale to foreigners.

55 Members of the Parliament have signed the claim, with 19 signatures of lawmakers from the left-wing Coalition for Bulgaria, led by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, and 36 signatures – of liberals from the predominantly ethnic Turkish Movement, known as DPS.

"We hope the Constitutional Court will rule as quickly as possible because Bulgaria's European future is at stake," said DPS MP Chetin Kazak.

Apparently, 2 more BSP MPs have joined support for the claim, as it was reported Thursday that Bulgarian Socialist lawmakers have collected seventeen signatures.

According to DPS, the ban, which extends for 7 more years a transitional moratorium, is manifestly in breach of Bulgaria's Constitution and EU Accession Treaty.

In order to file the complaint with the Constitutional Court, the 36 liberal MPs, who have all signed it, had to gather at least 12 more Members of the Parliament signatures to reach the number of 48, or 1/5 of deputies in Bulgaria's Parliament.

On October 22, Bulgaria's Parliament controversially decided to extend the ban on sale of agricultural land to foreigners until 2020.

The proposal for the extension was made by ultranationalist anti-EU party Ataka, a sort of kingmaker for the Socialist-led government. Surprisingly, it was backed by both the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, and the opposition center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB.

A total of 171 lawmakers voted in favor of extending the moratorium, while 38 were against and 12 abstained from voting. The biggest surprise were the Socialists, because all, except one, who took part in the debates, urged to reject Ataka's proposal, but at the end 59 of a total of 75 BSP MPs present voted in its favor.

The European Commission warned that this would breach Bulgaria's commitment to lift the moratorium, which expires at the end of 2013.

Thursday morning, BSP's parliamentary group met to discuss the DPS Constitutional Court challenge and decided they would not issue a joint decision, but would extend to each of their MPs the opportunity to sign.

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Tags: DPS, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, BSP, Constitutional Court, Bulgarian Socialist Party, Plamen Oresharski, Ataka, GERB, land, sale, ban, moratorium, EC, EU, European Commission, Coalition for Bulgaria, Chetin Kazak


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