published: 17.01.2013, 22:40 | updated: 17.01.2013 22:47:03
Prague - The transfer of the German minority from then Czechoslovakia in 1945 was a breach of human rights from today´s point of view, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) said in a television duel with his presidential election rival Milos Zeman today.
Schwarzenberg said it was a mistake that the principle of collective guilt was applied then.
He said the Benes decrees under which the Germans were transferred have not been valid in the Czech Republic since the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms was approved as a part of the Czech constitution two decades ago.
The decrees issued by then Czechoslovak president Edvard Benes provided for the confiscation of the property of collaborators, traitors, ethnic Germans and Hungarians, except for those who themselves suffered under the Nazis. They also formed a basis for the transfer of two ethnic groups from Czechoslovakia after World War Two.
Schwarzenberg and former Social Democrat prime minister Zeman (now Party of Citizens´ Rights, SPOZ) will contest the presidency in the second round of the first direct presidential election on January 25-26.
Schwarzenberg said on public Czech Television (CT) "the then government, including President Benes, would probably find themselves in The Hague today," alluding to the International Court of Justice.
"That we applied this principle of collective guilt, that we did not pay regard for whether someone was loyal to the republic or did something wrong to it, this is what I reproach our ancestors for," Schwarzenberg said.
He said the chosen procedure was a serious mistake.
Schwarzenberg said Czech society was also "infected with the bacillus of Nazism" when it drove out fellow citizens, including the innocent.
"Many of them did not betray the republic," he said.
He spoke about the Czechoslovak soldiers of German nationality who entered the military during the mobilisation in 1938 [in protection of the country against Hitlerite Germany] and German miners from Most, north Bohemia, who were included in the transfer even though they were Social Democrats or Communists.
Schwarzenberg also said the number of Sudeten German priests in Nazi concentration camps was higher than of priests from Germany adn Austria.
He said the Benes decrees have been invalid since the Czech constitution and the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms were approved in 1993. Not since the beginning, but since these two new documents were adopted, he said.
Zeman did not entirely agree with Schwarzenberg. He said the Czech Constitutional Court has clearly said the laws passed by the Czechoslovak National Assembly (parliament) in 1946, on which the decrees were based, are still an inseparable part of the Czech legal order.
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