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Thursday, March 22, 2018

The postwar borders of Europe changed again

Because of the former Cieszyn region spilled a lot of blood. The Czech Republic and Poland for a century divided the land among themselves. Did not stop the controversy and now, and among the nationalists they have a hot temper. However, it is reported that Prague still are willing to give the neighbor a part of its territory.

The principle of the inviolability of postwar borders in Europe”, in the neglect which accused Russia in reality have been is no longer valid. Examples of German unification, the Soviet collapse, the force of the dismemberment of Yugoslavia with the participation of NATO troops, “divorce” between the Czech Republic and Slovakia without regard to the opinions of citizens were cited hundreds of times, but for some reason not considered to be convincing. But there are other examples that, despite its apparent insignificance, it is proved: post-war administrative border is not a fetish. They can and should change, to hold on to them as the only guarantee of peace and tranquility is meaningless and even dangerous.

Three and a half kilometers

“If you hate Joseph Stalin, why you are so fond of held the border?”

The Czech Republic intends to return to Poland over 3.5 square kilometers of its territory by changing the border established between the two countries under Soviet pressure during the cold war, Deutsche Welle reports citing The Telegraph. According to the British newspaper, talking about territories in Northern Moravia and Bohemia, the dispute around which lasts from the 1950-ies. Czech media write about it less sparingly – we are talking about the lands located in the former Cieszyn region.

Prime Minister of Czech Republic Bohuslav Sobotka refused to say what kind of place it is and when it will return lands. “Poland will get its territory back. But until all the details of this case are confidential, so I can’t comment on them to tell you,” he snapped. Czech journalists, in turn, suggest that we are talking about the piece of road between two Polish villages, which the Czech Republic promised to pay back in 1958. This case will not be the first: the border between Czechoslovakia and Poland was changed in 1988 and refined in its demarcation in the 90-ies.

A similar case occurred, by the way, between Ukraine and Moldova, whereby the latter became a Maritime power. It was not about the historical dispute, and of the banality of mutual convenience. In 1999, these former Soviet States have agreed to exchange territories – Ukraine got semikilometrovaya stretch of road Odessa – Reni and Moldova in return was given a plot of land on the banks of the Danube, where he built the port and the oil terminal Giurgiulesti. The transfer was not very smooth, in 2010 Ukraine has accused Moldova that, passing lands de facto, she has not given them de jure. In 2011, the transfer was approved, but in the 2012 border controls on the highway also remained. Ukrainian nationalists, in turn, offered to take Moldova the Giurgiulesti area under the force.

Both these cases show that even the countries that shout loudest about its territorial integrity (despite the fact that Moldova, for example, effectively ceased to control Transnistria even before the collapse of the Soviet Union), are still willing to talk about change in their own borders. The key word here is “conversation”.

Land of discord

It is significant that Poland and the Czech Republic, member of the European Union and the Schengen area, there is no border control. Theoretically, you could leave the situation as is. But for Warsaw and Prague the land question in this place is extremely painful.

As resembled in 2009 radio Prague”, Těšín region became a bone of contention between Czechoslovakia and Poland immediately after the countries independence. According to the 1910 census (last conducted in Austria-Hungary), about 54% of the region is called its “language” (Umgangssprache) of the Polish, more than 26% of Czech and almost 18% German. In 1918 there was Polish national Committee, demanding the accession of Poland. The Czechs responded by creating a similar organization, and the Germans were in favour of joining Germany. The view of the defeated side no one was interested, and Poland and Czechoslovakia even came into the war in 1919, but it lasted only a week. After a year under pressure from Western powers, the region was divided between the two countries, strategic railway went to the Czechs. The poles were very unhappy because they believed that Czechoslovakia took advantage of their “weakness” – at the time of conclusion of the agreement, Soviet troops under the leadership of Tukhachevsky went to Warsaw.

September 30, 1938, the day after the Munich agreement, Poland has also decided to take advantage of the weakness of a neighbor and presented an ultimatum to Czechoslovakia, demanding the withdrawal of all troops and police from their part of Tesin. Prague was forced to obey.

After the Second world war Poland and Czechoslovakia were ready to resume the “dispute among themselves Slavs”, but the Soviet Union forced them to begin negotiations. In 1947 a document was signed that preserved the boundary of 1920, with minimal changes, and in 1958 an agreement was signed on the demarcation of the state border.

As the publication notes, revealing that in 1968 during the “Prague spring”, when the troops of the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia, the Polish soldiers purposefully not sent to the former Cieszyn region, so as not to cause unnecessary associations.

In 2008, the Czech politicians have protested against the installation in the Polish part of the region of monument to Legionnaires of Poland.

The current decision is likely to put an end to this long history.

New Helsinki

Most territorial disputes in Europe today are resolved exactly as it happens between the Czech Republic and Poland – quietly, behind the scenes, slowly. But the EU has come to this after centuries of wars, cessation, by the way, not due to the good will of the parties to land disputes, and because of the emergence of the world’s superpowers are not interested in clashes on the territories under their control. Thus, the Soviet Union did not allow the military solution of the conflict between Czechoslovakia and Poland, the USA closely followed the post-war settlement of the centuries-old Franco-German dispute over Alsace and Lorraine (ceded to France), and Saar (returned to Germany).

Settled after lengthy negotiations, almost all of its major territorial conflicts (not counting the struggle of the individual provinces for independence), Europe refuses to talk about changing the post-Soviet borders. As stated in the famous phrase, so if you hate Joseph Stalin, why you are so fond of its borders?

In General, the Soviet administrative borders were conducted not on the basis that once they become public. But supporters of the “inviolability” there is one simple reason – the revision may lead to attempts a military solution. However, the war over the Soviet borders has already happened not once, not twice. This is Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh. The Yugoslav border were also conducted without calculating possible collapse of the state – so many Serbs were in a hostile Croatia and Bosnia. Until the US and the EU ensure that in the Balkan countries is not flashed, the people there do not take up arms. But it is necessary to weaken the control and the war would begin with renewed vigor. Injustice can last a long time, but it can’t last forever.

And again, considering the USSR an unfair country, how can it be considered fair held forcibly by the border?

The revision of the Helsinki accords on European borders was long overdue. The policy of “let’s leave things as they are” causes all new and new tensions.

New contract could solve not only the problem of borders in post-Soviet countries and unrecognised territories. It can also weaken separatist tensions in Europe itself. The enormous effort the UK and Spain have managed to leave in his part of Scotland and Catalonia respectively, but it is unlikely that the question is removed permanently. But if the change in territorial jurisdiction will no longer be perceived as “tragedy” or “national humiliation”, but will simply change the entries in the registry will disappear and a reason for wars.

The history of Poland and the Czech Republic peacefully changed their postwar borders, is a great example of that on this painful issue can and should negotiate.


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