Berlin (bpb) The new critical statements of the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman against the Sudeten Germans and expellees has brought about a storm of indignation in Germany, both in the CDU/CSU coalition and among the victims. The coalition parties demand from the SPD-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder a clear statement with respect to the Czechs. What is involved are the so-called "Benes-Decrees", the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans after 1945 and the confiscation of their properties in their ancestral homeland, and about the reconciliation.
The political spokesman on this area of the CDU/CSU coalition, Hartmut Koschyk, has in the present controversy criticised Zeman as a political drunk driver. Koschyk, also the President of the Society for German Cultural Relations Abroad (VdA) has been engaged for years for the reconciliation between Poland and Czechs. Koschyk has roots in Silesia (between Moravia and Germany), and he is one of the leading coalition politicians in the German Parliament. He warns the politicians of both states about radical political statements, which endanger the admission of Poland and Czech Republic into the European Union.
Member of the German Parliament Koschyk commented as follows on the controversial statements of the Czech Prime Minister Zeman:
The scandalous statements of the Czech Prime Minister Zeman to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz" reveal him as a political drunk driver. It is well and good, that the Spanish Foreign Minister Pique repudiated these statements in the name of the European Union as unacceptable. The German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is called upon to make clear to the Czech side that such a mental attitude of the Czech Prime Minister cannot represent a basis for a trustful German-Czech cooperation between the two governments, and also that it most seriously damages the Czech aspirations for admission into the European Union. Now it is coming to haunt us, that the German government has not expressed a clear position on the recent attacks by Zeman in the Austrian news magazine Profil". The Czech Prime Minister seems to be encouraged by the tame reaction of the German government on those statements to continue with his unbelievable provocations and defamation.
The German government may not longer be silent about compatibility of the Czech legal system with the laws of the European Union
On the professed readiness of the Czech Republic to submit to a review of its legal system, as conveyed to the European Union Commissioner Günter Verheugen, comments the political speaker for the expellees of the CDU/CSU coalition, the Member of the Parliament Hartmut Koschyk:
The readiness of the Czech Republic to examine the legal structure of its country and its compatibility with the acquis communautaire" of the European Union, shows that the Czech government has realised the gravity of the situation into which it was brought by the unacceptable statements of the Prime Minister Zeman and the President of the Partiament Vaclav Klaus.
And now it will happen that also the European Union itself will precisely examine whether the Czech legal system, to which also belong the so-called "Benes Decrees" at the present time, result in discrimination not only against Czech citizens of other than Czech nationality, but also against citizens of the European Union, which the Czech Republic aspires to join.
The German government may no longer be silent about this discussion. It cannot simply continue to stick its head in the sand as before. It must take seriously its duty to protect the upset German citizens who are affected by the possible discrimination by the continued validity of the "Benes Decrees", so that they do not have to feel as second-rate citizens in a future member state of the European Union. But it also concerns Czech citizens of German nationality. The Czech Republic is obliged to act for their protection as a minority and prevent their discrimination not only by the German-Czech Neighbor-Treaty of 1992, but also by its membership in the European Council and its agreements and regulations on the protection of minorities, as well as by the signing and ratification of the corresponding United Nations agreements.
Copyright 2002 Prometheus 82/2002
How to overcome the cruelties of the past between Germans and Czechs, by Bernd Castell