Monday, 14 September 2020

LN: Zeman against Czechs joining Polish demand for reparations

ČTK |
15 August 2017

Prague, Aug 14 (CTK) - President Milos Zeman does not want the Czech Republic to join Poland's demand for war reparations from Germany, he told Monday's issue of daily Lidove noviny (LN).

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the Polish ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, recently said the Polish government would demand extensive financial reparations from Germany for the obliteration of Warsaw by the Nazis during WWII.

LN writes that Poland needs to find foreign allies in support of its claim, while the Czech Republic would be the most suitable partner in this respect out of the Visegrad Four Group (V4), which is also comprised of Hungary and Slovakia. But both were fascist states and allies of the Nazi Germany during the war.

However, Czech politicians, including Zeman, reject the idea of opening wartime traumas, LN adds.

"This is a hypothetic issue. I would naturally like to get acquainted with Poland's arguments. On the other hand, we must realise that this is not an issue in Czech-German relations, especially after the Czech-German Declaration the anniversary of which we commemorated of late. I highly appreciate the declaration," Zeman told LN being asked whether he would support Kaczynski's initiative.

He added that he considered such a plan a purely internal affair of Poland that he was not authorised to comment on.

The Czech-German Declaration on Bilateral Relations and their Future Development, in which the two countries pledged not to burden bilateral relations with controversial issues from the past and focus on future cooperation instead, was signed by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Vaclav Klaus in his capacity as Czech prime minister in 1997.

Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek, the election leader of the senior government Social Democrats (CSSD), also refers to the Czech-German Declaration.

"The declaration clearly closed these issues and thanks to it, we have had so good relations (with Germany) for many years. We let history up to historians and said together we would focus on the future. This stance has paid off for us immensely and there is no reason to change this at all," Zaoralek told LN.

Petr Gazdik, head of the opposition Mayors and Independents (STAN) movement, stressed bilateral relations, too.

"Seventy-two years have passed since the end of World War Two. How long should we be opening these issues?" Gazdik asked.

Zeman also told LN that no one from the Polish government had officially turned to the Czech Presidential Office in the case of a possible demand for war reparations from Germany.

On the other hand, he admitted that Poland had a full right to proceed this way.

"This is naturally a very sensitive matter. The Nazi occupation of Poland was extremely brutal and devastating for the Polish nation," Zeman said.

LN writes that it is apparent that the Polish government is dealing with this issue seriously. However, it is not clear from the reaction of the Polish embassy in Prague to a LN question whether Poland had contacted other Czech supreme politicians.

Though Jaroslaw Kaczynski does not occupy any high constitutional post in Poland now, he is still one of the major influential political personalities. He started using sharp rhetoric about the German responsibility for the wartime demolition of Warsaw now that Poland has several disputes with the EU in which Germany plays a leading role, LN points out.

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