Court cancels ban on selling agriculture land to foreigners

  • Foreign citizens may soon be able to buy agriculture land in Georgia. Photo by Ministry of Agriculture., 24 Jun 2014 - 18:05, Tbilisi,Georgia

The temporary suspension of selling agriculture land to foreigners has been removed following a verdict of the Constitution Court of Georgia, a high court that deals primarily with constitutional law.

After a year and two months of a Government-imposed temporary ban on the sale of agriculture land to foreigners, today’s decision requested the withdrawal of the provision to suspend sale of agriculture land to foreign nationals.

The complaint had been filed with the Constitutional Court by Austrian citizen Mathias Huter, a senior analyst and media program manager with Transparency International Georgia, a Tbilisi-based watchdog group.

The Constitutional Court said the regulations were against Georgia’s constitution according to which property and inheritance rights are recognized and guaranteed. It also ruled it was inadmissible to cancel the universal ownership right of people obtaining, selling or even inherited the property.

Transparency International Georgia welcomed the court decision said the "regulations had been setting different legal regimes for foreign citizens and even putting them in a discriminatory situation”.

The watchdog group also believed the regulations could seriously undermine the country’s economic development.

The Government imposed the moratorium to avoid the real threat of irrational privatization of land, which may have a negative consequence on the country’s economic security, environmental protection, and state security. It may also significantly damage the rural population.

The moratorium generated fierce opposition from foreign citizens as well as opposition parties, who said the decision would halt Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in Georgia.

Later, a moratorium on the sale of land to foreign citizens was removed for commercial banks and on "special cases”, according to changes to the Agriculture Land Ownership law, initiated by the Georgian Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development last December.