Volhynian Czechs disappointed at Czech govt not helping them


25.03.2014 13:30

Prague - Ethnic Czechs living in Volhynia, northwest Ukraine, are disappointed at the Czech government not planning to help them for now, Ema Snidevych, who heads the Volhynian Czechs´ Association, told CTK by phone.


Ministr zahraničí Lubomír Zaorálek na tiskové konferenci po jednání předsednictva Bezpečnostní rady státu, které se sešlo 2. března v Praze v souvislosti s událostmi na Ukrajině. ČTK Kamaryt Michal

She reacted to a statement Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) made on Monday.

In early March, Snidevych asked Prague for helping about 40 families return from Volhynia to their original homeland.

Snidevych today complained about what she called too short a period for which the Czech Foreign Embassy´s observers monitored the situation of Czechs in Volhynia.

The Foreign Ministry said the mission had been led by a diplomat who did not visit the region for the first time and who knows the situation very well.

The ministry sent three officials from the Czech embassy in Kiev to Volhynia last weekend.

On Monday, Zaoralek said the envoys found out that the local Czech community faces no security danger and that local Czechs´ efforts to move to the Czech Republic are motivated economically and socially.

Zaoralek said the Czech government is not planning to launch extensive aid programmes as there are no cogent reasons for it.

He said the Czech government may reassess its position if the situation in the Czech-inhabited area sharply worsened.

Ukraine is faced with Russian aggression in Crimea, which Moscow has annexed against the will of Kiev and the West.

"Our people are disappointed. It has strongly disappointed us," Snidevych said in reaction to the Czech government´s decision today.

She said she does not know how the Czech envoys came to their conclusions.

"They arrived at 11:00 in the morning and left after an hour and a half. What could they learn? That the sun was shining and the weather was fine?" Snidevych asked, describing the visit to the region by the Kiev embassy officials.

Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Johana Grohova told CTK that the mission was led a former general consul in Lviv, who is well acquainted with the situation in the region and did not visit it for the first time.

He and his colleagues visited the towns of Zhitomir and Malynsk to meet Czech expatriates, about 140 of whom attended the two public meetings, Grohova said.

"This definitely does not mean that we have stopped monitoring the situation of Volhynian Czechs. However, now we tend to eye smaller projects in support of these people," Grohova said.

The Association of Volhynian Czechs has made it clear that it would not come to terms with Prague´s decision and it wants to address another request for help to Prague.

In its first request, the association used rising crime and people´s fear for their lives as an argument.

Some 20,000 ethnic Czechs live in Ukraine. The association of Volhynian Czechs in the Zhytomyr Province asked Czech officials for aid for some 40 families who would like to return to their historical homeland.

Czechs moved to the area in the second half of the 19th century. Several thousands of them were repatriated to Czechoslovakia in the aftermath of World War Two, others after the collapse of the Communist regime.

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