Thursday, 24 April 2014

Bavarian, Czech PMs to regularly meet every year

ČTK |
21 February 2013

Munich, Germany, Feb 20 (CTK) - The prime ministers of Bavaria and the Czech Republic will regularly meet once a year, Bavarian PM Horst Seehofer and his Czech counterpart Petr Necas agreed after their meeting Wednesday.

As a result, Seehofer is to visit Prague later this year.

Other cabinet ministers should regularly meet as well and a Bavarian-Czech parliamentary group should be set up, Seehofer said.

A Czech-Bavarian land exhibition initiated by the Czech side should help deepen mutual relations, Seehofer said.

Seehofer and Necas told journalists that they do not shun a debate on the past, and especially on the sensitive issue of the postwar transfer of Sudeten Germans from Czech border areas, but they want the relations between Munich and Prague to focus on the future.

"I will not avoid this issue in my speech in the Bavarian parliament," Necas said.

Necas will deliver his speech on Thursday. He will be the first Czech prime minister to address the Bavarian parliament.

Seehofer said representatives of Sudeten Germans will be present in the Bavarian parliament, too, and they will also take part in a dinner that will be held in honour of Necas this evening.

Seehofer said Bavaria and the Czech Republic still have different legal views on their joint postwar history, but this does not challenge the good partnership for future.

He refused to comment on the heated debate related to Sudeten Germans in the recent Czech presidential election campaign.

In the election runoff, Zeman attacked the critical statements of his rival, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, on the postwar Benes Decrees and the transfer of Sudeten Germans, and the anti-German sentiment was used in the campaign. Bavarian and Sudeten German politicians nevertheless said in reaction they believe that Zeman as president will not deal with "the prejudices of the past."

Bavarian prime ministers traditionally backed the effort of Sudeten Germans at cancelling the Benes Decrees, based on which the Germans were stripped of their civic and property rights after World War Two.

Most of the Sudeten Germans moved to Bavaria after they had to move out of Czech border areas.

Seehofer has been the first Bavarian prime minister to officially visit Prague after the fall of the Iron Curtain. This happened in December 2010.

Necas and Seehofer Wednesday laid wreaths to the memorial to victims of the Dachau concentration camp.

In Dachau, the two prime ministers were guided by the 93-year-old writer Max Mannheimer, a Holocaust survivor who had been one of 6500 Czech citizens sent to this camp.

Mannheimer was awarded at the Sudeten German Days in Nuremberg in 2012. He said then he feels no hatred for either Czechoslovakia or Germany over the wrongs they inflicted on his family in the past.

He was born to a Jewish family in Novy Jicin, north Moravia. With his second wife, a Sudeten German, he left Czechoslovakia after the war and settled down in Germany.

Mannheimer did not speak of his own experience of the Holocaust until the late 1980s. However, he has been "highlighting the Nazi dictatorship horrors for young people" since then in order to enhance their adherence to democracy, he said last year.

Bernd Posselt, head of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft, attended the visit to Dachau, among others.

Posselt told CTK that his presence at a dinner with a Czech prime minister is another step towards better relations between Sudeten Germans and Czech official representatives. He nevertheless added that the importance of this gesture should not be overestimated.

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