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Two Prague Castle buildings being returned to Catholic Church under new deal

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Prague, July 14 (CTK) – Two buildings in the Prague Castle complex, now in the state ownership, will be returned to the Catholic Church under a memorandum that President Milos Zeman and the Prague Archbishop, Cardinal Dominik Duka, are to sign on Thursday, Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told CTK yesterday.
The negotiations between the Church and the Presidential Office, seated at Prague Castle, about the return of the Mocker Houses and the St George Convent have lasted several years.
Under the planned memorandum, a contract on the property transfer is to be signed by the end of January 2016.
“The memorandum outlines further steps in preparing a contract on the transfer of two buildings to the Catholic Church on condition that they will be repaired within a five-year period and used for public purposes, and that the Catholic Church definitively drops any other [property] claims regarding the Prague Castle complex,” Ovcacek said.
The negotiations started under Zeman’s predecessor in the presidential post, Vaclav Klaus (2003-2013).
The Prague Archbishopric previously said that under Klaus’s presidency it had been agreed preliminarily that the Church should own the buildings it uses, which is the case of the Mocker Houses.
Separately from the above deal, several Church bodies have applied for the return of another ten pieces of real estate at Prague Castle within the ongoing restitution, in which churches are to be returned or compensated for the property that the communist regime seized from them in 1948-1989.
According to the real estate register, the Czech Republic is now the owner of all buildings at the Prague Castle complex, except for one, while they are administered by the Prague Castle Authority.
The Catholic Church originally also demanded St Vitus Cathedral. On the basis of an agreement from May 2010, the state and the Catholic Church jointly administer the cathedral, but the church does not own it.
The only other owners of the buildings within the castle complex is the Lobkowicz William Easton company that owns the Lobkowicz Palace, which was returned to the heirs of the original owners, the Lobkowicz noble family.
Under the restitution law, churches are to be returned land and real estate worth 75 billion crowns, confiscated from them by the communist regime, and given 59 billion crowns plus inflation in financial compensation for unreturned property over the following 30 years. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
The Catholic Church will get most of the total sum, or 47.2 billion crowns plus inflation.
($1=24.522 crowns)

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