Czech – German Declaration on Mutual Relations and their Future Development
07.06.2004 / 16:43
Both sides agree that injustice inflicted in the past belongs in the past, and will therefore orient their relations towards the future. ... they are determined to continue to give priority to understanding and mutual agreement in the development of their relations... Both sides therefore declare that they will not burden their relations with political and legal issues which stem from the past.
The Czech-German Declaration on Mutual Relations and Their Future Development closed some of the controversial issues in Czech-German relations stemming from the past and provided room for the development of partnership in the spirit of shared European values.
The signing ceremony took place in Prague on 21 January 1997. The document was signed on behalf of the Czech Republic by Prime Minister Václav Klaus and Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec. On the German side it was signed by Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel. The Declaration was approved by the German Bundestag on 30 January 1997 and by the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament on 14 February 1997.
During the negotiations the Czech Republic´s top priority was to reach an understanding on the text of item IV in which the two sides declare that they will not burden their relations with political and legal issues stemming from the past. This political commitment stated in item IV and reaffirmed by the parliamentary approval in both countries lends weight to the document. Practical experience has shown that both the Czech and German sides respect the Declaration in their relations. The institutions created on its basis ( Czech-German Fund for the Future, Czech-German Discussion Forum) greatly contribute to this success.
Many countries and European institutions welcomed the Declaration as a step towards better mutual understanding between European nations. On the day when it was signed, the European Union appreciated it as "a decisive and historic step in the process of good-neighbourly relations and partnership between a EU member state and an associated partner". The United States in a statement of 22 January 1997 welcomes the signing of the Declaration as "an important step forward" and commends "the commitment of the Czech and German governments not to burden their relations with political and legal questions arising from the past". The Austrian government noted with satisfaction that the two sides would not burden their relations with political and legal issues stemming from the past. According to the Council of Europe Secretary General the Declaration should be "an encouragement to others to cast off the burden of history and join together in the community of European democratic nations."
Full Texts of the Declaration
English: Czech - German Declaration on Mutual Relations and their Future Development of 21 January 1997
Česky: Česko - německá deklarace o vzájemných vztazích a jejich budoucím rozvoji z 21. ledna 1997
Deutsch: Deutsch - tschechische Erklärung über die gegenseitigen Beziehungen und deren künftige Entwicklung vom 21. Januar 1997 (pdf)
EU documents concerning the Declaration:
of the Council of Europe
and the Czech-German Declaration, 22 January 1997
by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union
on the German-Czech Declaration, 21 January 1997