Bulgaria's new govt asks court to take back all forests
Bulgaria's new government filed a court claim to take back all the forests that the Balkan country returned to its former king and ex-prime minister.
Bulgaria's new government filed a court claim on Wednesday to take back all the forests that the Balkan country returned to its former king and ex-prime minister, Simeon Saxe-Coburg, after the fall of communism.
The new centre-right cabinet, which won July elections on promises to restore the rule of law, said the return of over 1,600 hectares of forests to Saxe-Coburg's royal family in the past decade was marred by irregularities and should be reviewed.
It also sought 5 million levs ($3.77 million) in compensation for trees cut down in the returned forests in the Rila mountain.
"The aim is to protect the state's interests," the agriculture ministry, which filed the claim, said in a statement. "The court is to recognise that the state is the owner of the irregularly returned estates".
Critics have said Simeon entered politics in 2001 to win back lands and estates owned by his family before the communist regime sent them into exile in 1946.
But Saxe-Coburg, Europe's only royal to become prime minister, argued he did it because of a "sense of duty".
The farm ministry said the state bodies which returned the forests were not authorised to do so.
Saxe-Coburg's centrist NMSP party, a junior partner in the former coalition government, lost all of its seats in the July parliamentary election as voters punished the incumbents for failing to clean up corruption and crime.
Saxe-Coburg spent most of his life in exile and was welcomed as a saviour when he permanently returned to Bulgaria in 2001.
Bulgarians hoped the former monarch would fix all of their problems and resoundingly elected him prime minister in 2001, a position he held until 2005. But disappointment later prevailed as living standards remained low.
Simeon became Tsar in 1943 aged six, but ruled for just three years before the communist regime abolished the monarchy and sent the royals into exile.
Reuters Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Kasım 2009, 08:39