There are lots of possible implications of this bad document but one of the specific ones for the Czech Republic was that the Beneš decrees - crucial post-WWII laws that have macroscopically compensated the evil that most of the German Nazis did to our country and that keep on preserving the stability of the ownership rights in the Sudetenland that used to have a German-speaking majority - could have been dismantled using this charter.
Needless to say, this was not the only problem that President Klaus saw in the charter. But it was the most comprehensible problem for the Czech public. Such cards are sometimes being used. President Klaus managed to gain the support of the public in his approach to the Treaty of Lisbon. It was perhaps not 100% clean but the Beneš decrees are just the currently valid laws and Klaus's goal was just to peacefully preserve the status quo.
The advocates of a federal Europe would tell him (and us) that there was no threat for the Beneš decrees. Klaus was only trying to ignite the fear that had no rational justification, they argued. Everyone who matters in the EU has accepted the decrees, we would hear. But unless such arrangements are guaranteed by some texts that can be efficiently enforced, they're always endangered. To see how sensible Klaus's attitude was, it was enough to wait for a few months.
In Austria, there will be presidential elections on April 25th, 2010. Mr Heinz Fischer, the current president, has to compete with Ms Barbara Rosenkranz of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (where Jörg Haider belonged until 2005).
So this particulate contest may require some special behavior from Heinz Fischer, right? Unfortunately, the Austrians still nurture lots of post-Nazi nostalgia. They like to think how powerful they could have been. After all, Adolf Hitler was born in Austria, too. Although their race is clearly less Nordic than that of the German nation (or even the Czech nation, for that matter), they were perhaps even more enthusistic about the ideology than the Germans. And they're more nationalistic than the Germans today.
So unfortunately, the political campaign before the elections seems to be becoming a contest between a full-fledged modern Nazi candidate and a moderate national socialist candidate. In his letter to the Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft, Heinz Fischer called the Beneš decrees a "severe injustice". He has also said that he will pay no attention to the opt-out from the Charter of Rights that the EU has promised to Klaus and the Czech Republic.
Needless to say, this is a deeply polarizing question. Almost all Austrians are happy about Fischer's revived national self-confidence. Almost all Czechs - and Czech politicians - disagree with it: a TV NOVA poll gives Klaus a 96:4 victory over Fischer. It includes Heinz Fischer's self-described friend, social democratic ex-PM Mr Miloš Zeman. Everyone stresses that the decrees were a logical conclusion of the war that macroscopically ordered the most blatant injustices of the war period. It can't be separated from the history.
After all, the Czechoslovak authorities could have executed all the Germans and Austrians, too. But they were not animals so they carefully decided what was the most balanced, measured, sensitive, yet doable punishment of all the crimes that the German Nazis on our territory did against their former country and the Czechoslovak nation. And the Beneš decrees were a part of this carefully engineered solution. They were no mistake: they were the least bad solution that could have been chosen in those hard times.
Czech president Klaus is just visiting the U.S. - giving some talks about the climate change - but he reacted as follows:
Statement of the president of the republic, Václav Klaus, about the claims by Austrian president Heinz FischerWell, I guess that Heinz Fischer's statements will remain just a P.R. game in the internal Austrian political struggles. But the point is that such a "localization" of a problem - and of political sentiments - can never be guaranteed.
President Václav Klaus who is just on his business trip to the U.S. has learned about some of the statements reported by the media that Austrian president Heinz Fischer expressed in his message to the Sudetendeutschenlandsmannschaft Ethnic Association in Austria which referred to the Beneš decrees.
Václav Klaus has expressed regrets that these painful historical topics are being abused in the Austrian political campaign once again. At the same moment, he reminded everyone how far-sighted it was for him to negotiate an opt-out from the EU Charter of Rights for the Czech Republic before he ratified the Treaty of Lisbon on behalf of his country. The incident shows that it is necessary for this opt-out to be legally codified as soon as possible.
Mr Radim Ochvat, March 4th, 2010
It is always possible that such games and pledges will force the president to actually attack the existing laws on the international scene. And it is always conceivable that such a game will find some supporters who may actually help him to achieve this promised goal.
Such important things simply have to be written on the paper and one must be careful not to lose this paper when various laws (and countries) are being rearranged. One must be careful about these matters not despite the fact that the law is considered controversial by some people - but because it is considered controversial. Exactly because some people may have vastly different interpretations what is "right" and what is "wrong" when it comes to the ownership rights in the Sudetenland, it's important for the right answers to be written at a visible place.
And that's the memo.