published: 19.10.2013, 15:23 | updated: 19.10.2013 15:25:46
Prague - The Interior Ministry has proposed a legal measure to the government under which the whole Prague Castle, seat of Czech heads of state, would be exempted from the return of property to churches scheme, Petr Vicha, head of the Social Democrat (CSSD) senators, told CTK today.
The Interior Ministry argues that in conflict with the 2010 deal, the Prague archbishopric asked for some buildings and property at the Prague Castle this August.
Under the law on state-church property settlement, which took effect in January, 16 churches are to get back some property confiscated from them by the communist regime in 1948-1989.
In the next 30 years, the churches will get real estate worth 75 billion crowns plus 59 billion in compensation for unreturned property. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
If the government submits the measure, it must be passed by the upper house of the Czech parliament, but it is certain to find backing in it, Vicha said.
Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik wants to discuss the proposed legal measure with head of the caretaker government Jiri Rusnok, the archbishopric's spokesman Ales Pistora told journalists.
Vicha's plan was confirmed by Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka.
The party has a majority in the Senate.
"If there is a legislative opportunity with which to prevent the church restitution's impact on the Prague Castle compound, the Social Democrats will certainly look for ways in which to support such plans," Sobotka said.
The government is drafting a law against churches' claims to the property at Prague Castle, daily Pravo writes today.
On August 8, the Prague Castle Administration received two appeals from the Prague Archbishopric to have the property returned to it, Pravo writes.
It covers nine buildings and ten pieces of land.
The Interior Ministry has proposed that the law on the return of property to churches be amended by a clause that would exempt the whole Prague Castle compound from it.
Interior Minister Martin Pecina has warned that the affair must be rapidly dealt with, Pravo writes.
"The affair is urgent because the law on property settlement with churches and religious societies has taken effect. The persons that must return the property are bound by the set deadlines," Pecina said.
"It is necessary to clarify the whole status of Prague Castle because it has a unique importance, which is a sign of existence of substantial public interest," he added.
Pecina warned that the current form of the legislation might threaten the military protection of the Czech president.
"After the church obtains the houses, it will not be possible to protect the Castle. It will be quite a problem because the new owner will want to have access to his property. As a result, soldiers will be unable to close the door at the Prague Castle at midnight, claiming that it is an area guarded by the military," the daily quotes Jan Barta, former head of the Presidential Office Legislative Office, as saying.
($1 = 18.840 crowns)
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