Lithuania to hold referendum on banning land sales to foreigners

By REUTERS
February 18, 2014 01:14

 
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VILNIUS - Lithuania will hold a referendum on keeping a ban on land sales to foreigners, officials said on Monday, a move analysts warned would put it at odds with EU regulations on the free flow of capital.

The vote got the go ahead after backers - among them a party led by one of the Baltic state's biggest farmland owners - collected the signatures of more than a tenth of the population to push the initiative through, said the electoral authority.

Lithuania had promised to drop the ban after joining the European Union in 2004 and was given a transitional period to keep it in place until May.

But campaigners called for it to be made permanent, some arguing lifting it could drive prices beyond the reach of locals.

Ownership of land is an emotional subject in a country that has suffered a string of occupations through its history.

"Lithuanians are very emotionally attached to land. We say that a sad person looks like if he has just sold his land'," Valdas Gaidys, head of pollster Vilmorus, told Reuters.

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