London's Liberal Democrat Euro-MP, Baroness Sarah Ludford,
has today written to the European Commission
to protest at the Czech Republic's
laws on land reclamation.
In a letter to Commissioner Verheugen, Baroness Ludford
outlined the problem that British descendants of Czech
landowners are unable to reclaim the land that was confiscated in the second world war unless the descendants
are currently Czech Republic citizens.
The matter was raised
with her by a constituent whose uncle was an Austrian citizen living in Prague,
and died in
Auschwitz as a victim of the Holocaust. Four years after his death,
the Uncle's property was confiscated, but in
1991 new laws were passed allowing
restitution or compensation. The three surviving daughters and their
children ought therefore to be able to reclaim the property; but the catch is that such
benefit is restricted to heirs
who have Czech citizenship and live in the Czech
Commenting on the situation, Baroness Ludford said "This
situation is deplorable. The EU treaties specifically state
that discrimination on grounds of nationality is not acceptable, yet the Czech Government seem
happy to push for EU
membership while they ignore the very treaties they wish
to sign up to.
"This is a problem that needs urgent attention. The heirs
must make their applications to reclaim the property before
May 25th 2001, or they will lose out permanently. This must not be allowed to happen. If the Czech Government
refuses to bend on this then they are simply punishing the families of holocaust victims, who would otherwise
have inherited the property in the traditional way.
"I hope that Commissioner Verheugen reacts quickly and
effectively to this situation so that this injustice can be reversed."
(Press release issued 10 April 2001)