Olaf Barth: Czechs, Poles, Germans to become closer from EU enlargement

Let's cross the Czech border into another country that's entering the European Union on Saturday, where Ian Willoughby is now with a man from Germany, who lives in the Czech Republic and will benefit tremendously from European Union enlargement.

Thanks, Dita. Well, I'm actually here on the Polish side of the border at the place where the three countries meet, that is the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland, and with me is Olaf Barth, a German man who lives in the Czech Republic but works in Germany. And as I say we are here on the Polish side of the border. Olaf, what will the enlargement of the EU mean to you personally and your family?

"I think for me and my family it is most of all a great pleasure because we think that it's time now that all the three countries are going together a little bit more. For me as someone who works in Germany but lives in the Czech Republic it means possibly that I will have a little easier way to work and back home every day because sometimes I have to wait half an hour or sometimes an hour on the border. The Polish are very strict with their controls, they check all the passports, so I hope that this will be a lot easier for me."

About this, the "Trojzemi", the place where the three countries meet, how do the different nationalities get on, do you know?

"I hope that the relations will get even better because now there are on all sides, on the Polish side, the Czech side, the German side, there are good relations but there are some prejudices on all sides as well. And I hope that it will get better. That all the people will get together and see that all human beings are the same and that there is no need to be afraid."

I know you speak Czech and you speak Czech very well. How are the language skills of the people here? Do most of the Czechs speak German, do the Germans speak Czech?

"That's a surprise for me that in Liberec, which used to be a German town and which has a great German tradition, there are only a few people who are able to speak German. And on the other side, on the German side it is even worse. There are only a few people who are able to speak some Czech. So I think and I hope that with this unification there will be more people who will like to learn the other language."

As our listeners will know, the Germans have something like a seven year transition period in which people from the new acceding companies won't be allowed to work in Germany. Do you expect that many people from the Czech side will work illegally in Germany?

"I don't expect that it will be more people from the Czech side to work illegally in Germany than it has been before. I think it will be the same number of persons who are going to work illegally."

Also, here at the place where the three countries meet, there are many events happening over the next two or three days - are you or your family going to be taking part in them, or going to anything here?

"Yeah - I will have a birthday party tomorrow, and we will go here and enjoy ourselves here with the children. It will be a fine party I guess because there are a lot of attractions for the children."

So happy birthday Olaf! And from Ian Willoughby here on the Polish side of the Czech-German-Polish border, I'm handing back to you in the studio.