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Czech Republic: Sudeten Germans Criticize Czech-German Declaration

Munich, 9 January 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Some government deputies in the German parliament say they oppose the joint German-Czech declaration expected to be signed by government leaders Helmut Kohl and Vaclav Klaus this month.

A statement issued today said Sudeten Germans in the government parties rejected parts of the declaration and would oppose it if it was put to a vote in parliament in its present form. Sudeten Germans are members of ethnic-German families which were expelled from Czechoslovakia at the end of the war.

The joint declaration was negotiated in two years of difficult talks. Agreement was reached last month and the declaration was initialed by the foreign ministers of the two countries on December 19.

A government deputy in the federal parliament, Erich Riedl, said today the Sudetens were dissatisfied with the declaration because it failed to recognize that the Sudetens considered the Czech Republic their "homeland." Riedl is a representative of the CSU party in the province of Bavaria.

The CSU is a strong supporter of the Sudeten-Germans, many of whom made their home in Bavaria after being expelled. The president of the Association of Sudeten expellees, Fritz Wittmann, who is also a CSU deputy in the federal parliament, criticized the declaration as being incomplete and unclear.

Some Czech organizations have also criticized the joint declaration. They say the text places the Nazi aggressors and the Czech victims on the same level.