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Czech Republic/Germany: Bavaria Aims to Postpone Signing of Treaty

Munich, 17 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Some political leaders in the German province of Bavaria have said there is no time pressure for achieving a joint declaration with the Czech Republic about the postwar expulsion of ethnic Germans and it is more important to ensure the declaration is satisfactory.

Among them is Theo Waigel, chairman of the Bavarian governing party, the CSU. He is also the federal finance minister. "We are not under time pressure" Waigel told a meeting in Munich regarding the declaration. He confirmed that modifications were being considered to the present draft text but declined to say what they were, or to discuss them.

Earlier this week the Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl said he hoped a bilateral declaration could come in November or December.

Germany and the Czech Republic have been negotiating for 18 months on a joint declaration about the postwar expulsion of thousands of ethnic Germans. Their property was confiscated and they were banned from residing in Czech territory.

Many of those expelled found new homes in Bavaria. With the support of the Bavarian provincial government, they have sought an apology from Prague for the violence suffered by many of the expellees and a statement that the expulsions were wrong. The Czech side has declined to say the expulsions were wrong but may express regret for the violence.

In his statement, Waigel called for "constructive work by both sides to reach a satisfactory solution for the victims." He said there was sufficient time to achieve this before the end of the year and so meet Kohl's deadline.

"It Is important that the bilateral declaration be formulated in a way which would avoid new misunderstandings. It is also important to agree on a right of residence for the ethnic Germans, who are known as Sudetendeutsch." Waigel said. He reaffirmed the Bavarian demand that the expellees political organization, the Sudeten Landmannschaft be allowed to join discussion forums between Germany and the Czech Republic.

Bavaria's Premier Edmund Stoiber said earlier this week that the present draft text did not cover the question of compensation or restitution of confiscated property but the issue remained open.