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Merkel, Sobotka: Czech-German Declaration opened look into future

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Berlin, Jan 18 (CTK) – The Czech-German Declaration, signed 20 years ago, opened a look into the future for both countries instead of insisting on the past, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said on Wednesday.

The 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 in 1997 by then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Czech PM Vaclav Klaus.

Merkel and Sobotka agreed that the declaration had largely helped the two countries’ relations to reach the current level.

“For me, the signing of the Czech-German Declaration is one of the crucial moments of Czech-German relations,” Sobotka said.

“It allowed to close some questions of the past, opening the space for the development of cooperation and bilateral trust,” Sobotka wrote to CTK.

A similar view is held by Merkel.

“With foresight, the declaration demanded that bilateral relations should not be burdened with the questions of the past, but that the look should be focused on the future,” Merkel said in a press release sent to CTK.

Merkel and Sobotka allude to those parts of the four-page declaration which write that the past wrongdoings are a matter of the past.

“Both sides therefore declare that they will not burden their relations with political and legal questions arising from the past,” says its text, passed by parliaments of both countries.

However, in the Czech Republic, the political debate was not simple. Sobotka and another 18 Social Democrats voted against it because Prague voiced regret at the suffering caused by the forced deportation of Germans from the former Czechoslovakia in the aftermath of World War Two.

In Germany, 20 deputies of the CDU/CSU votes against it.

Observers say that this, too, shows what road has been passed by the Czech Republic and Germany since then because virtually no one is questioning the declaration and the need of good relations at present.

“Our relations with Germany are on an exceptionally good level,” Sobotka said.

“Long ago, Germans and Czechs became good neighbours and close friends,” Merkel said.

Both of them said that the Czech-German Fund for the Future and the Czech-German Discussion Forum established on the basis of the declaration had also helped the relations.

“For almost two decades, the institutions have been pushing closer the citizens of both our countries,” Merkel said.

“I am convinced that the present-day relations between the Czech Republic and Germany can be both a symbol of European cohesion and inspiration for other countries of Europe,” Sobotka said.

“At present, we can state with pride and gratitude that the spirit of the declaration has been filled with life,” Merkel said,

“At the time when Europe is facing tremendous challenges, the message of the declaration is still urgent. Looking into future as partners and assuming joint responsibility for Europe,” she added.

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