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Czech Foreign Minister: Denial of communist crimes like denial of Nazi crimes

Prague, 16.12.2010 1:14, (ROMEA)

The Czech Republic and five other EU Member States have called on the European Commission to prepare an EU-wide ban on denial of the crimes of communism. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg announced the move to journalists today. He signed the letter to the Commission along with his counterparts from Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania.

"I have also signed it. There is a fundamental concern here that totalitarian systems be measured by the same standard," Schwarzenberg said in Brussels. In his view, denial of the crimes of communism is completely comparable to denying the crimes of Nazism, which in many EU countries is a criminal offense.

"To tell you the truth, Stalin managed to kill even more people. They were both mass murderers and those who served them served murder, period," Schwarzenberg said, comparing Hitler to Stalin.

The letter, which the Czech Press Agency has at its disposal, is addressed to European Commissioner for Justice and Fundamental Rights Viviane Reding. Even though its signatories publicly refer to the "crimes of communism" when discussing the letter, it does not actually refer to communism, but speaks generally of totalitarian regimes: "We sincerely hope the European Commission will take further steps in this area, including possible legislative initiatives criminalizing the public denial of, excusing of, or significant minimization of the crimes of totalitarianism."

The Commission has until the end of this year to prepare a special report which should also mention denial of the crimes of communism, but the ministers of these six Member States want Commissioner Reding to prepare specific legislation. The foreign ministers of the six undersigned countries do admit in the letter that they are currently unable to guarantee enough support for their proposals in the EU. However, in their view it would be a shame if the EU-27 did not take advantage of this opportunity to address the issue.

"Everyone knows about the crimes of the Nazi regime, but only part of Europe is aware of the crimes of communism," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis said. In his view, the letter primarily represents a "wake-up call" for Brussels. Lithuania alone lost approximately one-third of its population during the roughly 50 years it spent under Soviet domination. Currently 3.3 million people live in the country.

This is not the first time the Czech Republic and other countries have tried to get the EU to compare the communist and Nazi regimes. During the Czech EU presidency last year, the Czech Government did its best to create platforms for research into totalitarian regimes, without scoring any larger successes. In relation to that idea the Czechs considered opening a small information office in Brussels, but for the time being no such body exists.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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