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Finland to reintroduce restriction on foreign ownership of land
Last Updated: 2017-04-21 13:34 | Xinhuanet
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Finnish Defense Minister Jussi Niinisto on Thursday welcomed the suggestion by a working group that the state would be given pre-emptive purchase rights for "objects of security interest".

The gesture was considered a sign of taking steps to start restricting foreign ownership of real estate near strategically important locations in the Nordic country.

The prime minister's office told national broadcaster Yle later on Thursday that the changes in regulations could take effect from the beginning of 2019.

The working group envisaged as one alternative a permit or notification system for non-/EU/EEA citizens or operators.

The Finnish Ministry of Defence has said earlier that some real estate transactions by foreigners in Finland have included "alarming locations".

The working group listed as sites where the surrounding areas may have security implication at military areas, strategic road, railway, bridge and dam structures, shipping routes and harbour structures as well as sites associated with telecommunications and electricity transmission.

The security risks of foreign ownership became national news in Finland in 2015 when the state blocked the sale to a Russian buyer of an area close to a military installation in southeastern Finland.

There are currently on average 500 such real estate transactions where the buyer is a foreigner. In some years, the number reached 700.

Until 1999 Finland did have a legislation on the surveillance of non-residents' and foreign organizations' acquisitions of real estate property in Finland.

Suna Kymalainen, an MP from southeastern Finland and an early promoter of the restrictions, said the sensible way would be to return to the permit system used until the end of 1999. The right of the state to intervene with a pre-emptive purchase would take time and be costly, she said.

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