One property owner who has been required to sell land and buildings within a planned South Estonia military training area to the Estonian state has obtained over a million euros in the transaction, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera," (AK) reported Thursday.
The sales are going ahead after the state announced nearly a year ago that it will be requisitioning private land to enable the expansion of the military training area at Nursipalu, Võru County, necessitated by the changed security situation.
AK reported that sums offered for the sale may reflect how well owners had negotiated sales with the state, and also the characteristics of the state officials involved.
Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) says the state has paid several times the market price for the just over 20 Nursipalu properties, three of which include buildings, often in residential use, as opposed to land alone (there are 215 separately registered, privately-owned land units, mostly consisting of forest, within the earmarked expansion zone).
Pevkur told AK that: "In the case of these properties with buildings on them, the price will be five times, seven times the market rate.
"These sums are in that vicinity, and in the case of some properties, in fact, the sums are even over a million euros," he went on, adding that this in fact concerned one property of those where a sale agreement has been met.
Exact prices have not been disclosed.
As for the evaluation process, Pevkur told AK that: "The essentially have taken apart the properties, so to speak, to see if the roof is made of fibered cement, or stone or of tin etc., to see if the walls are wallpapered, or covered with something else, what the floor consists of etc. In other words, this assessment actually goes into great, great detail."
This process has lasted almost a year now, though, AK reported, the legal basis behind the sales still has not been finalized, an NGO representing local residents says.
The government says it hopes to have done this by mid-October.
Maarika Niidumaa, board member of MTÜ Meie Nursipalu, an NGO, told AK that: "Because, at present, there is no formal decision on expansion, these purchase-sale transactions have simply gone ahead with the framework of mutual agreement, simply as a buyer-seller deal, and in this case, the price largely depends on both the negotiation skills of the seller and the discretion of the official."
The National Center for Defense Investment (RKIK) has been conducting the purchase process on behalf of the state.
A public meeting on Nursipalu is to be held in nearby Võru today, Friday.
The total value of agreed deals on 20 built-up land units within the planned Nursipalu expansion zone comes to €3.5 million. The evaluation process took into account not just market value, but also restoration value, it is reported.
Minister Pevkur said the state now has around 10 percent of the desired land in its hands.
The pre-existing Nursipalu military training area is set to roughly triple in size from around 3,000ha, to around 10,000 ha, once the expansion is complete.
This will accommodate both newer weaponry and equipment acquired in recent years and boost scope for hosting allied personnel and their equipment – particularly from the U.S., several hundred of whose personnel are based at nearby Taara.
The equivalent training ground in North Estonia is the Central Training Area (Keskpolügoon) in Harju County; allies from the U.K. and France are based at Tapa, Lääne-Viru County, covering the North of the country.
Latvia is also planning a large training area in the Southern part of that country, close to the Lithuanian border.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Iida-Mai Einmaa.