By Daniel Stroe – Bucharest
The Hungarian government is drafting a program through which to buy plots of land in Transylvania, one of Romania’s historical provinces where the Magyar minority lives, after Romania had to liberalize land sale as of January 2014, Szabo Jozsef, agriculture attaché with the Hungarian embassy in Bucharest, told the local Hungarian language media.
The Hungarian diplomat pointed out the program aims to support the Magyar community, concentrated in eastern Transylvania, in the so-called Szekelyland, to strike firmer roots in the area amid a growing immigration phenomenon within the minority. If someone wants to sell their land, then he or she can close a deal with the Hungarian state following which the seller will receive a life annuity, but the land will remain in his or her property, Szabo told radio station Erdely FM.
“If someone gets old, his or her children left the village and he/she still has a plot of land which he/she cannot work anymore, then he/she has two possibilities – first, to sell the land on the free market and can sell it to anyone, but the question is what the new owner will do with the land. Second, to offer it to a foundation, a program or a land program, and the Hungarian state will distribute it then to a young family who don’t have the possibility to buy land, but who want to work in agriculture ans stay in the native village” Szabo detailed.
He added though the Hungarian governmental program will have to be correlated with the Romanian law on land sale, not enforced yet, after president Traian Basescu turned it down last night and sent it back to the Parliament for a series of clarifications. Once the law is promulgated, the Hungarian state will create a budget for the land buying program, Szabo also explained.
Romania is compelled, as of 1 January 2014, to allow foreign nationals residing in the EU to buy land in Romania. But in December 2013, the Romanian Parliament passed a law which sets a series of buying preemption rights.
Thus, if a citizen wants to sell a plot of unincorporated land the he will be obliged to ask the town hall to notify the pre-emptors, co-owners, neighbors, farmers under 40 years old in the respective village and, ultimately, the state who have a 30 days term to assess the offer before the pre-emption right expires after which the sale is held under free conditions.
EU has rejected a demand from the Romanian Government which sought to limit the land sales for individual foreigners to 100 hectares. Consequently, authorities in Bucharest are trying to stimulate Romanians to buy land offering them facilities, such as state guaranteed loans. About 700.000 hectares of land were owned by foreigners in July 2013 and the surface is expected to rapidly grow as of this year.
Reacting to Szabo’s comments, the Hungarian ministry of Foreign Affairs said there is no official program in this respect, but a mere idea at this point, and questioned another interview Szabo had given to a Hungarian newspaper in which the diplomat spoke on the same topic.