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Moratorium on land sales to foreigners expires on April 30

FOREIGN nationals should be able to buy land in Slovakia as of the end of April, 2014. Some MPs oppose this arrangement, however.

FOREIGN nationals should be able to buy land in Slovakia as of the end of April, 2014. Some MPs oppose this arrangement, however.

Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) MPs want to convene an extraordinary parliamentary session to deal with what they call “the protection of Slovak land from sales to foreigners”. MPs Jozef Viskupič, Martin Fecko and Helena Mezenská announced at a press conference on April 15 that more than 30 MPs (the number of MPs needed to sign a motion to convene an extraordinary session) have promised to sign a motion on summoning a session toward this end, the TASR newswire reported.

Slovakia implemented a moratorium on selling agricultural land to foreign individuals when it entered the EU on May 1, 2004. In 2011, the EU approved Slovakia's request to extend the moratorium by three years - to April 30, 2014.

Fecko warned of a “legal vacuum” looming after the date that will enable foreigners to buy up large swaths of Slovak land with no regulation.

"Why did the government fail to respond and draft laws governing the acquisition of land after May 1, 2014?,” Fecko asked, as quoted by TASR. “The government was aware that the date couldn't be postponed further, but that it had to be postponed.”

The fact that the government submitted legislation on the acquisition of agricultural land late last year that was to come into effect as of May 1, proves this. The law has not made it to parliament yet.

The MPs are calling for the adoption of a bill governing the acquisition of agricultural land in a fast-tracked procedure at the parliamentary session starting on May 13. Earlier this month, Viskupič argued that Hungary and Poland had managed to secure more restrictive conditions than Slovakia in this sphere.

The Agriculture Ministry claims that even though the law has not been adopted yet, it does not mean that the sale of land to foreigners will not be regulated at all.

“It isn’t true that the end of the moratorium on the sale of agricultural land will concern all foreigners,” the ministry’s spokesman Peter Hajnala said, as quoted by TASR. “The end of the restrictions will concern only member countries, citizens of member countries and legal entities with their headquarters in member countries of the European Union and European Economic Area. Only these entities will have the same rights and duties related to transfers of ownership of agricultural land as Slovak citizens.”

Hajnala informed that the Slovak ministry is preparing legislation that should reduce the risk of agricultural land purchased by foreign entities being used for non-agricultural purposes.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports.
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information
presented in its Flash News postings.

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