Lithuania vote on referendum to ban land sales to foreigners

GMT 17:18 2014 Wednesday ,25 June

Arab Today, arab today Lithuania vote on referendum to ban land sales to foreigners

Ban land sales to foreigners in Lithuania
Vilnius - XINHUA

Advance voting in a referendum banning land sales to foreigners started Wednesday in Lithuania amid low turnout in the capital Vilnius.
Voters have been asked to express their position on whether a constitutional amendment should be implemented. The amendment would mean agricultural land can only be sold to citizens of Lithuania and the state.
Both Lithuania's ruling social democrat coalition and conservative opposition leaders spoke against the ban to sell land to foreigners.
"We would breach our commitments (in accordance with the European Union Accession Treaty)," Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius was quoted by local media as saying.
"The EU might even ask to reimburse billions of financial aid allocated to Lithuania during the last 10 years or cancel the funds, planned for the next four years," he added.
According to the EU Accession Treaty signed in 2004, the Baltic country committed itself to liberalizing its land market and remove the ban of land sales to foreigners over a 10-year transitional period which expired in May this year.
However, the referendum initiators argued that dropping of the ban could drive land prices beyond the reach of locals.
Analysts believe the initiative of the land sales ban to foreigners is not likely to be endorsed since high turnout is not expected in this ballot.
According to Lithuanian law, more than 50 percent of all registered voters must support the constitutional amendment in order to put it into effect.
About 47.37 percent of voters cast their votes in Lithuanian presidential elections on May 25. There are more than 2.6 million registered voters in Lithuania.
Voters will also decide whether or not to reduce the number of signatures needed to initiate a referendum from 300,000 to 100,000.
The referendum on land sales ban to foreigners will take place on June 29.

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