Hungary’s national land manager has initiated police proceedings against farmers who occupied and ploughed a state-owned plot the lease of which they think was wrongly awarded to another bidder.
In a statement sent to MTI on Monday, the manager said that the land lease bids, which form part of a government programme to help local farmers to more land, have been conducted in a legitimate way. The manager insisted that the bids were open for anyone to participate and bid conditions equally applied to any bidders. The structure of the bids excludes any speculation or prior allocation of plots to favoured bidders, the statement said.
Earlier in the day, the government labelled Sunday’s action by farmers in Kajaszo, west of Budapest, as illegal.
In a statement, the government spokesman’s office said that the demonstration was “politically motivated, against constitutional standards, and deliberately misleading”.
The government has asked the relevant ministries to take appropriate steps “to restore the rule of law” in the case, the statement said.
On Sunday, Ferenc Boor, spokesman for the local Fejer Association, one of the organisers of the action, referred to Hungary’s land law, which stipulates that private individuals are allowed to own or lease a maximum 300 hectares or a plot the value of which does not exceed 6,000 gold crowns – a traditional measurement which indicates the quality of arable land.
Boor insisted that the winning bidder was awarded 284 hectares worth 8,194 gold crowns for a period of 20 years, and said that the farmers had occupied and fenced off a part of it, about 70 hectares, worth the 2,194 gold crowns “in excess”.
“Local farmers will not allow the land to be cultivated illegally,” Boor said. He argued that the locals wished to “restore the rule of law” through their action and they wanted to manage the plot under public ownership.
Boor went on to say that all lease contracts, made so far under the government’s land lease programme, affecting a total of 60,000 hectares of state-owned land, should be annulled. He insisted that implementation of the bid programme went against the government’s original purpose of helping local farmers to more land, and raised constitutional problems.
He said that the bids should be repeated, ensuring that the bidders are locals, rather than entrepreneurs from other parts of the country.
The small opposition LMP party and radical nationalist Jobbik expressed support for the farmers’ demonstration.