published: 24.10.2013, 16:40 | updated: 24.10.2013 16:47:16
Most - The Catholic church has raised unrightful claims for some property at Prague Castle at variance with an agreement with former president Vaclav Klaus, President Milos Zeman said today.
Zeman said he was surprised because Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka assured him 14 days ago that his agreement with Klaus was still valid.
Zeman did not elaborate on his allegation.
Duka then said he had not breached the agreement with Klaus.
Zeman said this after Interior Minister Martin Pecina proposed a legal measure under which the whole Prague Castle compound should be exempted from the return of property to churches scheme due to the church's claims for some property there and also for the sake of security at Prague Castle, the seat of Czech heads of state.
On Wednesday, outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok said the government would not submit a legal measure as the case should only be passed to the new Chamber of Deputies to arise from the early election on October 25-26.
After meeting Rusnok on Monday, Duka said he had agreed both with Klaus and Zeman on the way the property claims at Prague Castle should be settled.
He refused to comment on Zeman's today's statement.
Under the law on state-church property settlement, which took effect in January, 16 churches are to get back over the next 30 years some real estate confiscated from them by the communist regime in 1948-1989, worth 75 billion crowns plus 59 billion in compensation for unreturned property. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
"I did not speak with Duka this week. Before, I did so 14 days ago. He assured me that the agreement he concluded with Klaus was still valid," Zeman said.
"Hence my big surprise that in contradiction with the agreement the Prague Chapter has raised some, in my view unrightful demands," Zeman said.
Duka said today the problem related to the exchange of property between the church and the Prague Castle Administration.
On Wednesday, the Prague Archbishopric said there was preliminary agreement that the Metropolitan Chapter would own some buildings it was now using, while the property necessary for the work of the Prague Castle Administration such as the Presidential Guard would remain to the state.
Reacting to the affair, the Vaclav Klaus Institute pointed to the documents from 2010 relating to the administration of Saint Vitus Cathedral.
"Through the Prague Castle Administration, the state will pass for free use two buildings at Prague Castle to the Metropolitan Chapter," Klaus said at that time.
The daily Pravo has written in the summer the Prague Archbishopric asked for the return of nine buildings and land at Prague Castle and plans to exchange them for two buildings owned by the Prague Castle Administration.
It proceeded on the basis of the agreement between Klaus and Duka from 2010 under which the Prague Castle is to provide the church with the necessary property.
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