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Turkish draft brings 'axis shift' in property sales

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 11/23/2010 12:00:00 AM |

A draft prepared by Turkey’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing would ease rules for property sales to foreign nationals, but some will not be able to enjoy the relaxed conditions. According to the draft, citizens of Israel and Greece will not be able to purchase land in Turkey, while such sales to citizens of Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arab nations will be relaxed considerably

The Turkish government has pressed the button on a new policy to ease regulations regarding foreign nationals’ purchasing land in Turkey, but a clause restricting Israeli and Greek nationals from buying Turkish land is causing controversy.

Daily Milliyet’s real estate expert Tebernüş Kireççi wrote Wednesday that if approved by Parliament, a draft prepared by the Ministry of Public Works and Housing may render Turkey “one of the top countries for foreigners in real estate ease-of-purchase.”

“All foreign nationals will be able to buy real estate, provided they have a passport and mug shots,” Milliyet reported. “While selling property and land, there will be no need to check if the foreign national’s country has a reciprocity agreement with Turkey.” The term refers to two countries that recognize their respective citizens as having the same rights.

However, a controversial restriction in the draft involves the sale of construction parcels and farmland to citizens of Israel and Greece, Milliyet reported. While all other foreign nationals may be able to buy as much as 99,000 square meters of land, Israeli and Greek citizens will not be able to purchase parcels and land in Turkey. Another controversial clause in the draft says citizens of Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Arab Gulf states will be able to purchase land even without any restriction on size.

A previous proposal to limit the usage rights of foreigners regarding property they purchased in Turkey to 99 years has been shelved, Milliyet said. According to the new policy, foreign nationals owning property in Turkey would have usage rights without any time limitation.

[HH] Military zone problems

One frequent complaint by foreign nationals involving the sale of parcels and farmland adjacent to military zones has been solved by the draft, which says the General Staff has to prepare a map showing which parcels cannot be sold due to national security concerns. Until such a map is prepared, military authorities will have to respond to requests to buy property adjacent to military zones in one month at most.

The draft was prepared by the Ministry of Public Works upon orders from the Prime Ministry, Milliyet reported. The draft was sent to various public and private institutions for advice. After possible revisions, it will be sent to the Prime Ministry, which, in turn, will submit it to Parliament.

The draft may become law as soon as the end of next year, the newspaper said, adding that the government is planning to “close the current account deficit” from the revenue that will enter Turkey once the law is enacted.

Turkey’s annual current account deficit, which occurs when a country's total import of goods, services and transfers is greater than its total amount of exports, is expected to surpass $45 billion by the end of the year.

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