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Chrastava municipality reluctant to cede area to Poland

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Chrastava, North Bohemia, Dec 14 (CTK) – The town Chrastava is against the idea that a part of its area should be ceded to Poland within the settlement of an old Czech-Polish dispute lasting over 50 years, Mayor Michael Canov told journalists on Monday.

Specifically, a forest measuring 52 hectares is to be passed to Poland.

After World War Two, Poland raised some territorial claims to Czechoslovakia. After an intervention by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, it agreed with the anchoring of the existing border. However, it set the condition that the border line had to be maximally shortened and straightened.

On the basis of an agreement signed in 1958, the Czechoslovak-Polish border was straightened and shortened by 80 kilometres. This was associated with 85 changes in the course of the border line.

When the losses and gains of both countries were compared, it turned out that the former Czechoslovakia gained roughly 368 hectares.

The Interior Ministry’s proposal that Chrastava, a town with 6,000 inhabitants, should pass the earmarked area to Poland, was rejected by all of the town hall yesterday, Canov said.

Canov said he wanted to turn to all supreme elected officials, President Milos Zeman, the chairpersons of both houses of parliament and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, over the question.

The Interior Ministry earmarked some land to be passed to Poland earlier, but due to the recent return of property to churches it had to find some new plots.

The forest near Chrastava is one of them.

“As proven by maps, the whole cadastral area of the present-day Chrastava, including the forest in question in Horni Vitkov, has been part of the Czech Lands at least since the 11th century,” Canov said.

Horni Vitkov’s inhabitants also reject the proposal.

In the area, there are the springs of brooks and the forest is important for hunters, Miroslav Balcar, head of its self-rule body, has told CTK.

“It is one of the most lucrative places in our hunting district,” Balcar said.

Tin used to be mined in the locality, Canov said.

Canov said if the town hall’s arguments were rejected by the Interior Ministry, it would file a legal complaint.

The Interior Ministry has declined to comment on the specific plots, awaiting statements by the municipalities concerned. Canov said Chrastava would do so later on Saturday.

The transfer of the land must be eventually approved by the government.

In the Liberec Region, this is supposed to relate also to the land in the Bulovka, Horni Rasnice and Hermanice municipalities.

Canov said the Interior Ministry was not defending Czech interests. He cited the international treaties of 1958 and 1992 saying that the course of the border was final and that Czechoslovakia and Poland had no territorial claims.

He has dismissed the argument of the Interior Ministry that the agreement on territorial settlement, signed by former foreign ministers Jiri Dienstbier and Krzysztof Skubiszewski in 1992, served as a basis for the settlement.

Canova said the agreement was invalid as it had not been anchored in the Law Digest.

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