Poland Revives Long-Standing Demands For Transfer of 368 Hectares From Czech Republic
The border dispute between Poland and the Czech Republic dates back to the 1950s. Credit: Freepik.
Warsaw/Prague, Sept 11 (CTK) – On Thursday, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky and his Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau discussed Poland’s demands for the return of 368 hectares of land from the Czech Republic, part of an ongoing dispute since the 1950s, according to the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita.
The Polish governing party, Law and Justice (PiS), takes the matter seriously and hopes that the Czech cabinet of Petr Fiala will settle this dispute, following an earlier agreement on the Polish Turow power plant near the Czech border, the paper says.
Lawyers from the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs are examining the case.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki raised the issue of the “border debt” with then-Czech PM Andrej Babis in March 2021, but the response was “general and evasive,” according to the report.
Now, PiS deputy Jarosław Krajewski has revived the discussion with a letter to the Polish foreign and interior ministries, in which he highlighted the Czech debt to Poland from 1958, when the borders were modified on the basis of an international agreement between Poland and Czechoslovakia. The latter gained 1205.90 hectares of land and Poland 837.46 hectares. The discrepancy to Poland’s disadvantage is at the centre of the dispute.
“I must state with regret that to date, the Czech Republic has not compensated the Polish Republic for this unjust land surplus,” Krajewski wrote in his letter.
Czech authorities pledged to work out the list of plots to be transferred to Poland, and did so in 2014, but the Czech Republic then withdrew from this deal, Rzeczpospolita writes. In 1992, a Polish-Czech commission was set up to deal with the case. In 2005, the Czech government offered financial compensation to Poland, but Warsaw rejected it.
“Foreign Minister Lipavsky was briefly debating the issue of the land debt with his Polish counterpart Rau [on Thursday], during their meeting before the opening of the OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum,” Mariana Wernerova, a press officer from the Foreign Ministry, told CTK. “Our lawyers are analysing the matter and we will return to it during further talks with the Polish side.”
After WWII, Poland raised territorial claims in Czechoslovakia, in particular in the Tesin area (north Moravia) and in the Orava and Spis areas (Slovakia). Responding to pressure from Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, Poland eventually agreed to the current border on condition that it would be shortened and straightened to the maximum extent. On the basis of a treaty from 1958, the border was straightened and thus became 80 km shorter. This required over 80 adjustments along the border.
Comparing the territorial losses and gains on both sides of the border, it turned out that Czechoslovakia had gained additional 368 hectares. In 1992, the Czechoslovak and Polish foreign ministers, Jiri Dienstbier and Krzysztof Skubiszewski, agreed on the land settlement.
The Czech Interior Ministry said in the past that the land selected for the compensation to Poland were in the Hradec Kralove, Liberec, Moravia-Silesia, Olomouc and Pardubice regions.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk stressed that the Czech authorities do not question the Polish demand, which is why “the lack of concrete steps by the Czech side is incomprehensible.” However, Wawrzyk warns that critical voices are heard from some Czech MPs and thus the Polish ministry is counting on help from the Polish parliament, Rzeczpospolita writes.