The Czech Republic is celebrating the 700th anniversary of the birth of Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, whom Czechs perceive as the “father of the Czech nation” and the greatest Czech that ever lived. President Milos Zeman, government officials and representatives of European royal houses attended a celebratory mass at St. Vitus Cathedral at midday on Saturday. The royal guests attending the celebrations are the Grand Duke of Luxembourg Henry I, Monaco’s crown prince Albert II and Alois, Hereditary prince of Liechtenstein. The royal crown of Bohemia which Charles IV had made was exhibited during the mass.
The Liechtenstein family will not try to reclaim family property in the Czech Republic that was confiscated from them after World War II on the basis of the Benes decrees, Prince Hans Adam said on Friday. The prince said his family would be glad to have the property returned, but it would take no legal steps to do so, because the most important issue was maintaining good-relations between the two countries. The Czech Republic and the Principality of Liechtenstein established diplomatic relations earlier this month after a 60 year rift caused by the property dispute. The Liechtensteins owned extensive properties in the Czech Republic, including the UNESCO-listed complex of the Lednice and Valtice chateaus in south Moravia.
The Czech Republic and the Principality of Liechtenstein have established diplomatic relations. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout and his Liechtenstein counterpart, Aurelie Frick, signed a joint memorandum to that end in Prague on Tuesday. The two countries had not recognized each other over a dispute concerning the post WWII confiscation of property of the Liechtenstein family in former Czechoslovakia, particularly in Moravia. The country disowned property of almost all ethnic Germans but the principality argued that members of the family were Liechtenstein citizens. However, Ms Frick told reporters her country’s recognition of the Czech Republic did not mean the Liechtenstein family would drop its property claims. The Czech Foreign Ministry said that the only remaining two countries with which Prague has no diplomatic relations with are Bhutan and the Marshall Islands.
Monday was a surprisingly busy day for Czech diplomats focusing simultaneously on one of the world’s largest countries, Canada, and on one of the smallest: Liechtenstein. The microstate of 35,000 people has been the aggrieved party in one of the Czech Republic’s main international disputes, and only now have the two countries decided to reopen regular relations after a 60-year diplomatic row. Christian Falvey explains what’s at the centre of the row.
The Czech Republic and the Principality of Liechtenstein have agreed to normalise diplomatic relations for the first time in 17 years. The announcement was made Monday by Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Kohout. Mr Kohout said that the agreement would be accompanied by a memorandum proposing the creation of a commission of historians tasked with reviewing points of contention between the two countries. Until now, Liechtenstein has been the only country in the world not to recognise the Czech Republic, a situation caused by the confiscation of the Liechtenstein family’s numerous possessions in Czechoslovakia following WWII. Much of the dispute has centred on whether the famous noble family was or was not “German”, as per the post-war decrees under which their holdings in the country were seized. According to Prime Minister Fischer, the normalisation of diplomatic relations is not based upon any conditions or property concessions.
Liechtenstein has said it will sign the agreement on an expanded European Economic Area despite its earlier refusal to do so because of open disputes with the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Lichtenstein threw a damper on hopes of creating a large area of free trade, finance and travel in Europe, when it walked away from the agreement a few weeks ago. Norway and Iceland also refused to sign in a show of solidarity. The refusal came after the Czech Republic and Liechtenstein crossed swords over sensitive SWW issues. Liechtenstein demanded that the Czech Republic open the door to property claims by its citizens relating to past confiscation of land and property - a demand that Prague refused to comply with. Liechtenstein said on Wednesday that it did not want to block progress on European integration and would sign the agreement, along with Norway and Iceland. Its officials have stressed however that this does not signify any change in position regarding the unresolved SWW issues.
One man dominates the front pages today - and that man is the former president Vaclav Havel - shown receiving the country's highest state distinctions. The papers have all noted the public snub to him by President Klaus who absented himself from the ceremony on what the papers call a very flimsy excuse.