Schroeder dismisses Sudeten Germans' claims

19th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

19 November 2004 , BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Friday pointedly dismissed claims by ethnic Sudeten Germans against the Czech Republic, assuring visiting Prime Minister Stanislav Gross that the Sudetenland would never again be an issue of contention between Berlin and Prague. Calling the Sudeten Crisis of 1938 "a dark chapter in history", Schroeder said lawsuits by ethnic Sudeten Germans seeking restitution from Prague for properties lost after Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia ended and

19 November 2004

BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Friday pointedly dismissed claims by ethnic Sudeten Germans against the Czech Republic, assuring visiting Prime Minister Stanislav Gross that the Sudetenland would never again be an issue of contention between Berlin and Prague.

Calling the Sudeten Crisis of 1938 "a dark chapter in history", Schroeder said lawsuits by ethnic Sudeten Germans seeking restitution from Prague for properties lost after Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia ended and Germans were expelled by the Czechs would not burden Berlin-Prague relations.

"Five years ago we stated jointly that Germany and the Czech Republic will neither today nor in the future raise property settlement questions," Schroeder said.

"We don't want our relations burdened with political and legal issues from the past," Schroeder said. "We want to move on."

Scores of Sudeten Germans, whose property was seized after the war, have filed lawsuits against the Czech Republic in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The Czech government has apologised for the Sudeten expulsions of some 2.5 million ethnic Germans from border regions, but has refused to retract the formal decrees that laid the legal foundation for property seizures.

Gross, stressing good relations between Prague and Berlin, conferred with Schroeder during his first state visit to Berlin since becoming prime minister in July.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus was also in Berlin Friday for talks with German President Horst Koehler.

The two countries are enormous trading partners, with Germany accounting for one-third of all Czech imports and exports, according to Czech government figures.

German companies such as Volkswagen and Siemens have invested more than 281 billion koruna (EUR nine billion) in the Czech Republic, and EU enlargement opened the door for more.

New highways in western and northern Czech Republic are being built to streamline links between factories, consumers and travellers in the two countries. Faster rail and budget airline services are also bringing them closer.

Schroeder and Gross are both centre-left Social Democrats. Despite cultural differences, their parties face similar struggles including the challenges of leading coalition governments and fighting opposition from the conservative right and far left.

The Schroeder and Gross governments are each trying to balance their parties' commitments to support social services with the money- crunching realities of budget deficits, tax pressures and unemployment.

DPA

Subject: German news

 

 

 

 

0 Comments To This Article