Germany will make no territorial claims on its neighbours, says Chancellor Schroeder

04-09-2000

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder made an unprecedented attempt on Sunday to end a 30-year feud between his party and millions of ethnic Germans forced out of their homes in East Europe after WWII. In the first speech by a chancellor to the main annual gathering of the exiles, Mr. Schroeder said that Germany had no territorial claims against its neighbours. Alena Skodova has this report:

The fate of the Sudeten Germans expelled from the border areas in post-war Czechoslovakia is seen by many Germans as a forgotten crime of WWII, because many were forced from their homes at a few minutes' notice and a great number of them perished on the way. But Chancellor Schroeder made it clear in Berlin on Sunday that he preferred direct negotiations with the exiles to endless discussions about their stance on the problem.

At the same time, however, he stressed that his Social Democratic Party's policy was different from the political views of the Association of Expellees. Schroeder said that the territories which belonged to Germany before the war would always remain part of German history and its cultural heritage, but that they were, according to international law, no longer part of the German state.

I spoke to political analyst Jiri Pehe and asked him first of all whether he saw Shroeder's statement as a significant breakthrough?