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Ban on selling lands to foreigners is unconstitutional

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, June 16
A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Transparency International (TI) – Georgia, says that if the government of Georgia declares a moratorium about restrictions on selling agricultural lands to foreigners, it will be an ‘unconstitutional’ decision.

The lawyer of the organization, Teo Zakarashvili, says that this prohibition does not differ from the moratorium abolished by the Constitutional Court in 2014.

Zakarashvili says that under the current constitution, there are two decisions of the Constitutional Court. In one case, the court lifted the blanket ban and in the second case, the moratorium was abolished.

“Consequently, we can say that if the Parliament announces a moratorium, it will be unconstitutional. The government is aware of the unconstitutional nature of this moratorium, and once again, they are going to declare the unconstitutional moratorium for the second time,” the lawyer claims.

Zakarashvili added that the government does not have the draft of the constitution article which prohibits selling of agricultural lands to non-citizens of Georgia.

“The authorities sometimes say that selling lands to foreigners will be absolutely prohibited, however, they say that in some cases there will be certain exceptions. The authorities should tell citizens and investors what exactly they are going to do,” the lawyer of the TI says.

According to the draft law prepared on the ownership of the agricultural land, until the selling of agricultural lands on foreigners is banned by the constitution, the moratorium will be announced, meaning that foreigners cannot buy such lands.

It is not known yet what exceptions will be allowed after the new constitution is adopted.

The Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, stated last week that it will be defined by constitution that agricultural lands will not be sold to individuals, who are not Georgian citizens.

He added that serious consultations were held over the issue within the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party.

“The right of agricultural land ownership will only go to citizens of Georgia, a group of Georgian citizens, the state and self-government entities,” the PM said.

He also added that the decision directly echoes the requirement that the majority of Georgians have.

The opposition parties and civil sector believe the step is ‘populist’ and it will lead to an even worse economic condition.

The moratorium on sale of lands on foreigners was declared by the Georgian Dream in 2013. In 2014, the moratorium on land ownership was abolished by the decision of the Constitutional Court.