Czech Republic to settle Poland’s territorial claims

The Czech government is working on a proposal that will give Poland back the land it was stripped of in the 1950s, at the order of the Soviet leadership. While the territory to be returned to the Czech Republic’s northern neighbour is very small and Polish claims are not disputed, some mayors that will be affected by the settlement hope their own interests will also be taken into account.

The 760-km long border between the Czech Republic and Poland is soon to see some changes. According to the proposal by the Czech Interior Ministry, Poland will receive some 370 hectares of land it was deprived of by an agreement between the two countries from 1958. Vladimír Řepka is a spokesman for the Czech Interior Ministry.

“The Czech Interior Ministry was assigned by the government to select several hundred hectares of territory that would be returned to Poland. The dispute was to some extent settled in the 1950s when the Soviet Union ordered the Czechoslovak – Polish border to be straightened up so that it would be easier to patrol. As a result, Poland lost some of its territory.”

Czech-Polish territorial disputes have a long history. In 1919, the controversy over the Těšín area, rich in coal, even resulted in an armed conflict that had to be resolved by an international peace treaty a year later. The current proposal of the Czech government to settle the Polish territorial losses from the 1950s, have nevertheless met with objections from some of the affected regions. Petr Skokan is the governor of the Liberec Region in northern Bohemia.

“The Liberec Region does not agree with the proposed territorial settlement with Poland because a Polish power plant is very close to the Czech community of Kunratice. We are afraid that the already existing environmental burden would move even closer to the village. I hope that they will hear us out because otherwise we would have to deal with an environmental emergency. I would really prefer for some other strips of land to settle the Polish claims.”

Czech negotiators are willing to take all this into consideration. The Polish authorities, for their part, say that they would welcome any solution to issue. Piotr Paszkowski, the Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman, says his country does not insist on any particular strips of land.

“As far as I understand the situation, we are open to any suggestions. There were some proposals made regarding a partial financial compensation; likewise, proposals for a fazed-out compensation whereby plots of land would be returned in a consecutive manner rather than in one go. I understand that the Polish side wanted to have a schedule for the turnover but we are still awaiting a concrete proposal.”

Negotiations with mayors and governors of the Czech regions affected by the settlement should conclude by the end of June. After that, it will be up to the two countries’ negotiating teams to draft the final agreement.