A blank Czech for the Germans

The Czech elections held on 14th and 15th June produced a parliament that has confirmed in office a very pro-European and pro-New World Order alliance of Socialists, Liberals and Christian Democrats. The main commitment of the new government is to ,,Europe". This distinguishes the new government mainly from the opposition under Václav Klaus, which has been becoming increasingly Eurosceptic recently.

The decks have therefore been cleared for the EU, and especially Germany, to have its way with the Czechs. The new foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, lost no time in telling two Czech newspapers, Lidove Noviny and Mlada Fronta Dnes, that he was prepared to open negotiations with Germany and the EU on the Benes decrees, even though he continued to support a resolution passed unanimously by the Czech parliament in April ruling out any restitution for the Sudeten Germans. ,,Democrats have the courage to talk on issues on which they disagree,"Svoboda said.

This new mood music was naturally seized on by the Germans, especially the Christian Democrats who are politically allied to the Association of Expellees. The official spokesman for the German Christian Democrats, Hartmut Koschyk, reacted immediately to Svoboda's statements, saying that he welcomed the government's change in attitude over the Benes decrees. He said there was a ,,nascent readiness"on the part of the Czechs to discuss the decrees, and that such discussions would be ,,a great step forward in Czech-German relations". Koschyk said the German government must ,,immediately seize"the opportunity and added that it must ,,push for the abolition of the Benes Decrees."

The European Parliament has chosen to ignore the unanimous resolution of the Czech parliament that the decrees should not be touched - a vote to which German newspaper correspondents refer contemptuously as ,,one which recalls the days of real existing socialism". The EP is going to wait for an ,,independent"legal opinion to be delivered on the matter - which, oddly enough, will be drawn up in Germany.

European Foundation Intelligence Digest Issue No. 147, 25th July 2002