Local Czech municipalities oppose Czech-Polish land settlement
(8 February 2016)
The town of Chrastava is opposing a proposal for 52 hectares of local forest to be ceded to Poland as part of a settlement of a Czech-Polish dispute lasting over 50 years.
The Czech Interior Ministry proposed that more than 72 hectares of land in the Liberec Region be ceded to Poland within settlement of a land debt, but the region as well as the municipalities concerned (of which Chrastava is just one) are opposing the move. Some municipalities are threatening to take the central government to court.
The mayor of Chrastava, Michael Canov, stated:"We are contrary to the idea of passing land to Poland because of three reasons. First, this terrain is important for us. Second, historically it has always been a part of the Czech Republic. And third: based on old but still valid agreements, we came to the conclusion that the Czech Republic does not owe any land to Poland. That means the border should not be changed in any way."
Poland’s territorial claims arose in consequence of a dispute over the Těšín region in northern Moravia, which was divided between Poland and Czechoslovakia after Austria-Hungary disintegrated in 1918. After World War Two, Poland made some territorial claims to Czechoslovakia. With the intervention of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, both sides agreed to anchor the existing border, however the agreement called for the border to be shortened and straightened. This was achieved in a 1958 treaty that shortened 80 kilometres of border, affecting 85 places where the land of Czech owners went to Poland and vice versa. Despite this territorial settlement, Poland counted that it lost 368 hectares of land and the dispute was renewed after the fall of the communist regime in 1989. Czech governments have been trying to settle the territorial debt for more than 20 years.