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Wednesday, 24 April, 2002, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Czechs spurn neighbours' demands
Politicians in Austria and Germany, including the German opposition candidate for chancellor, Edmund Stoiber, have recently called on the Czechs to repeal post-war decrees issued by the then-president, Edvard Benes, which ordered the expulsions.
However, the Czech parliament, supported by President Vaclav Havel has said the decrees cannot be touched.
It was also supported by President Vaclav Havel.
The decrees provided for the post-war expulsion of 2.5 million ethnic Germans, and the confiscation of their property.
German and Austrian politicians have however said the Czech Republic should not be allowed to enter the European Union until the decrees are repealed.
The issue has seriously damaged relations in the region, with the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder cancelling a visit here last month because of the controversy.
It has also created a nationalist atmosphere here ahead of elections in June.
Recently, the former Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said the country should not join the European Union without explicit guarantees concerning the Benes decrees.
Mr Klaus is leader of the strongest party, a top candidate for either prime minister, or even president following the retirement of Vaclav Havel next year.
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