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Czech Republic: Germany's Kohl Visits Havel

Prague, 22 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - German Chancellor Helmut Kohl concluded a two-day visit to the Czech Republic today by lunching with President Vaclav Havel and his bride, Dagmar.

Kohl told reporters afterwards they had discussed issues of cultural identity.

"Europe would be a poor place if we only spoke about money," said Kohl.

Kohl was in Prague to sign a post-war reconciliation declaration yesterday with Czech prime Minister Vaclav Klaus.

This morning Kohl held talks with Czech cardinal Miloslav Vlk and together the two visited Saint Vitus cathedral, paying their respects at the crypt of Vlk's predecessor, Cardinal Frantisek Tomasek, who died nearly five years ago. Tomasek became an outspoken advocate of religious freedom during the final years of communist rule in Czechoslovakia.

Kohl said yesterday in remarks after the signing that Germany wants to forgive and be forgiven. He pledged German support for Czech membership of the European Union and Nato.

In Brussels today EU commissioner in charge of relations with Central and East Europe, Hans van den Broek, termed the Czech-German declaration a valuable contribution to the development of good neighborly relations in Central Europe and to European integration.

Van den Broek told the Czech news agency CTK the declaration by easing a "certain tension" between Bonn and Prague contributes to the deepening of relations which he says "the entire European Union wants to have with the Czech Republic as a full fledged member and valuable partner."