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Wednesday, 24 April, 2002, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Czechs spurn neighbours' demands
Czech parliament
MPs from across the house backed the bill
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By Ray Furlong
BBC Prague correspondent
The Czech parliament has voted unanimously to reject attempts in neighbouring countries to reopen the issue of the post-war expulsion of more than two million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia.

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.

Damaged relations

The decrees provided for the post-war expulsion of 2.5 million ethnic Germans, and the confiscation of their property.

Joerg Haider
Austria's far-right leader Joerg Haider has also insisted the decrees be annulled
It was feared that repealing the decrees could lead to a rush of court cases, by people trying to get property back or seek compensation.

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have however said the Czech Republic should not be allowed to enter the European Union until the decrees are repealed.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.

See also:

28 Feb 02 | Europe
Schroeder snubs Prague
20 Feb 02 | Europe
Czech row dominates German visit
19 Feb 02 | Europe
'Hitler' comment sparks Arab fury
27 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Czech Republic
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