Thursday, 20 September 2018

Expulsions based on nationality must not repeat, Deputy PM says

5 June 2017

Augsburg, Germany, June 4 (CTK) - Expulsions of people from their homes just because of their nationality, religion or race must never repeat, Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Christian Democrat chairman (KDU-CSL) Pavel Belobradek said at the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft's congress today.

He also told Sudeten Germans that he had come there neither to apologise to them nor to reconcile with them, but to pay a visit to his neighbours, to attend a celebration to which he had been invited.

"We naturally must not forget mainly the times of brutality before, during and after World War Two. This must no repeat. People must never be expelled from their homes only because of their nationality, religion or a racial origin," said Belobradek, being applauded by some 2000 delegates.

Belobradek, who is the highest-ranking Czech politician to speak at the meeting of Sudeten Germans, addressed them as "dear neighbours."

"Yes, neighbours, since the importance of this word is based not only on ethnic origin, but it also means people who share love for the same country, its culture, history and traditions," Belobradek said.

He added that he believed Czechs and Sudeten Germans have all this in common though they speak different languages.

Belobradek also said he wished that similar visits by Czech politicians as his would not draw high attention in the Czech Republic in the future since they would be considered common.

The opposition Communists (KSCM) and part of the opposition right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) criticised Belobradek's visit, while the opposition TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) welcomed it.

The Sudeten-German Landsmannschaft (SL) represents Sudeten German transferees and refugees from the Sudetenland in former Czechoslovakia.

On the basis of the decrees issued by then Czechoslovak president President Edvard Benes, about three million ethnic Germans were transferred from former Czechoslovakia, mainly the border regions (Sudetenland), after World War Two and their property was confiscated.

According to the Czech-German commission of historians, up to 30,000 Germans died during the wild phase of the transfer.

During the war when the Czech Lands were occupied by Nazi Germany and Slovakia was a Nazi puppet state in 1939-1945, up to 350,000 inhabitants of Czechoslovakia were killed, most of whom were Jews, whom the Nazis planned to completely exterminate.

In his speech, Belobradek appreciated that Sudeten German stopped striving for the return of the property they lost in Czechoslovakia after WWII.

Thanks to such steps, the bilateral relations are on a high level now, though not as good as relations between Germans and French now, he added.

Belobradek said he can see the joint future in Europe. The European Union is a chance to live in peace and safety, but mainly together and not only next to each other, he said.

Czechs and Sudeten Germans whom the EU gives the possibility to keep their national identity, but at the same time to be Europeans should not focus on themselves only, but they should ask what they can do for the rest of the continent. They can, for instance, show that hatred can be overcome with love and that cooperation is the best prevention for the future, Belobradek pointed out.

His speech followed up the reconciliatory speeches by Sudeten Germans in the past few years that proved the improvement of bilateral relations.

A speech delivered by Czech PM Petr Necas (ODS) in Munich in 2013 contributed to this atmosphere. He expressed regret at the wrong caused to Sudeten Germans during their postwar transfer from Czechoslovakia.

Sudeten-German Landsmannschaft chairman Bernd Posselt in his speech highlighted today the immense courage of the Czech government members, Belobradek and Culture Minister Daniel Herman (KDU-CSL), with which they set out for the path of reconciliation with Sudeten Germans.

Herman became the first Czech government member to officially attend the Sudeten-German Landsmannschaft's meeting last year.

Bavarian Minister President Horst Seehofer (CSU) also appreciated both Czech politicians in his address at the congress today.

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