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Bulgaria extends ban on land sale to foreigners

22 October 2013, 23:33 CET
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(SOFIA) - Bulgaria's parliament adopted on Tuesday a controversial measure that will ban land sales to foreigners until 2020, a move the government warned will infringe on the country's EU commitments.

When it joined the European Union in 2007, Bulgaria negotiated a seven-year transition period before it would allow foreigners who were not permanent residents to buy land.

Tuesday's bill, proposed by the ultra nationalist Ataka party, extends the ban until 2020.

"Bulgaria will suffer grave problems with its European image," parliamentary speaker Mihail Mikov warned after the bill was passed with votes from Ataka, the conservative opposition GERB party and the ruling Socialist party.

The ban also contradicted parts of Bulgaria's constitution, he said.

The Turkish minority MRF party, which opposed the measure, meanwhile vowed to attack the ban in the constitutional court.

The ban could prompt an infringement procedure and sanctions by the European Commission, MRF leader Lyutvi Mestan even warned.

According to Bulgarian media, foreigners will still be able to skirt the ban by registering a company here and acquiring property in its name.

Tuesday's vote however revealed a shift of allegiance in the divided legislature, with Ataka now joining the opposition after previously supporting the government.

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