Friday, 26 April 2019

Právo: EU's planned arms directive is nightmare for Czech museums

5 May 2016

Prague, May 4 (CTK) - The EU's plan to toughen the rules of automatic firearms possession would bind the Czech Military History Museum to invalidate its collection of weapons, one of the world's biggest and most valuable, which its representatives categorically refuse to do, daily Pravo writes on Wednesday.

The planned EU directive is a nightmare for other Czech museums as well, the daily writes.

Ales Knizek, head of the Military History Institute (VHU) that runs the military museum, said the directive, if it took effect, would jeopardise the museum's collection including rarities such as the prototype of ZB-26, the Czechoslovak light machine gun whose construction served as a model for most armament makers before World War Two.

Knizek told Pravo that he would never allow the museum exhibits to be invalidated, even if the directive was passed by the EC.

"I will be defending our exhibits until my last breath. It is as absurd as if a law ordered to remove the engines from all old cars," Knizek said.

He said the directive jeopardises about 3,000 automatic weapons in the museum collections.

A weapon is invalidated by making its barrel and breechblock dysfunctional. This modification would completely destroy most exhibits because it is the technical details that are mainly valuable, Knizek said.

"The collection represents the whole construction and development of Czechoslovak weapons of the 20th century. It is unique in the world. Perhaps the only comparable collection is that in Leeds, England," Knizek told Pravo.

In addition, the EU directive would go counter to the Czech museum law, which clearly binds museums to preserve the heritage for the next generations, he said.

He can rely on support from Czech lawmakers who rejected the draft directive last week, saying that it would be better to ignore it even if Prague were to face sanctions, the daily writes.

Opposition Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy Jana Cernochova said she believes that the European deputies, who will vote on the EC's draft directive soon, will realise how nonsensical the proposal is.

"If all hopes failed, I think the Czech Republic would not allow our cultural heritage to be destroyed in such a barbarous way, even at the cost of sanctions," Cernochova told the paper.

Similarly, opposition TOP 09 deputy said "Prague would either apply for an opt-out or it would not observe the EU directive that is quite nonsensical."

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