Slovak PM says might ask for EU Lisbon exception

Czech President Klaus said he would not sign it until the bloc added such a footnote to the Czech version.

Slovak PM says might ask for EU Lisbon exception

Slovakia may try to negotiate an opt out clause in the European Union's Lisbon treaty to protect itself from potential post-war property claims if the Czechs manage to do so first, its prime minister said on Sunday.

Czech President Vaclav Klaus, the only EU leader who has not ratified the treaty, said he would not sign it until the bloc added such a footnote to the Czech version.

He said his demand's main aim was to prevent families of some 3 million Sudeten Germans expelled after World War Two from circumventing Czech courts and seeking EU high court rulings on claims concerning land seized under the so-called Benes Decrees.

On Sunday, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said his government may ask for a similar clause if their former federation partners Czechs succeed. Czechoslovakia split peacefully into the Czech and Slovak republics in 1993.

"We will not leave Slovakia in uncertainty if we feel that one of the seceding countries of former Czechoslovakia has negotiated an exception," Fico told television channel CT24.

"For us the Benes Decrees are such an important part of the rule of law, that we cannot allow for Slovakia to be left in any kind of legal uncertainty."

The Lisbon treaty is meant to ease EU decision-making, which has become more difficult since the bloc added 12 ex-communist Eastern European states this decade.

Klaus's footnote demand raised concerns it could require new talks and ratification among all EU members, threatening to undo years of delicate work among diplomats that has resulted in the treaty's approval by the remaining 26 EU states.

But on Saturday, he opened the way to resolve the issue by indicating he could be satisfied with a guarantee similar to one given Ireland that would not have to be ratified by all members.

Ireland's guarantee reiterated that the treaty would not undermine its neutrality, taxation and abortion laws. It has no legal force until it can be included in the next treaty -- expected to allow Croatia's accession -- and ratified.

Poland won a similar opt-out that it pursued also partly due to fears of German property claims.

Families of the expelled Sudeten Germans, many of whom were killed, have demanded the Czechs recognise it was wrong to use the principle of collective guilt by forcing them out.

Many of those expelled supported Hitler's Germany, which annexed areas populated by a majority of ethnic-Germans in Czechoslovakia under the Munich agreement in 1938.


Reuters

Last Mod: 18 Ekim 2009, 17:53
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