Lithuania has to amend its land ownership laws

  • 2000-08-03
VILNIUS (BNS) - Lithuania's present fruitful dialogue with the European Union could be disrupted unless this country's legislators succeed in amending the article in the constitution which would allow foreigners and legal entities to purchase land, the Lithuanian Parliament speaker, Vytautas Landsbergis said.

At the moment the government debating Article 47 of the country's Constitution which stipulates that only the state and Lithuanian citizens have the right of land ownership for agricultural use. The government is expected to pass its decision on to the parliament.

Landsbergis told journalists July 31, that it was necessary to "cross the t's and dot the i's" in public debate on this subject.

"The point of departure in this discussion is not what it should be. We are talking here about the landowners' right to sell land, and not to purchase it," Landsbergis said.

In 1996 Parliament adopted an amendment to the constitution enabling foreigners to purchase land in Lithuania for purposes other than agriculture. At the moment a discussion is underway as to whether foreigners should be allowed to buy land for agricultural business.

Landsbergis said that in this country "the landowners right to sell land and that of foreign companies to buy it have been restricted." He said that only when investors have been given the right to purchase land they would bring in investment which will create new jobs. Landsbergis said that at the moment "we are entangled with restrictions and losing the benefits of international cooperation."

He added that unless the existing legal provision where only Lithuanian citizens can purchase land is changed, obstacles in this country's EU membership talks would inevitably arise because the EU legal acts give guarantee of free movement of goods, services and people to all citizens of the EU members states.

"If we fail to amend the Constitution, we will fall behind in our current rather fruitful talks with the European Union," Landsbergis said.