Final Word from Thursday, July 3, 2003

Politicians are scrambling to find a way to make sure František Oldřich Kinský, a Czech citizen, can't reclaim Kč 40bn in assets confiscated from him after World War II. The case isn't comparable to restitution claims involving assets of Czech-based noblemen who collaborated with the Nazis, and it wouldn't command so much attention if so much property weren't at stake. It's showing a lot about how politicians think and act if laws don't suit their needs. Suddenly, the "independent" courts become an instrument for mobilizing against the enemy, and laws that were once considered just are hastily changed. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda used the emotional atmosphere to complain on F1 radio about Czechs who've been leasing large sections of farmland to Germans. "We can't forbid people to do what they want with their assets," he said, with regret in his voice.


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