Prague (dpa) – The heads of state of Germany and the Czech Republic recognized the close partnership between their countries as a European achievement and called for their further development.
Relations could hardly be better, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Thursday after a conversation with his Czech colleague Milos Zeman in Prague. “It is a treasure that we must take care of, especially for future generations.” Zeman stressed, “Our relationship has never been as good as it is today.” The 76-year-old thanked in particular for German help during the corona pandemic. Doctors from the Bundeswehr were on duty in a military hospital in Prague.
In the Czech Republic, it was noted with particular attention that Steinmeier first laid a wreath at the memorial in the morning for the resistance fighters who had killed SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich in 1942. “I take it as a very symbolic gesture, ”Zeman said. On Czech television, a political scientist spoke of a “gesture of reconciliation”.
Czechoslovakians Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabcik led an attack on Heydrich in 1942, one of Hitler’s Germany’s leading figures. Heydrich died soon after from his injuries. Nazi Germany took brutal revenge. The villages of Lidice and Lezaky have been razed to the ground. In Lidice alone, around 170 men were shot dead in a massacre and the women were deported to concentration camps.
Steinmeier was the first German head of state to visit the Cyril and Methodist Church in Prague, in the crypt of which Kubis and Gabcik had locked themselves and where they ultimately died. He also spoke briefly with a little niece of Kubis, Dagmar Raupachova. She told CTK: “I consider this symbolic visit to be important.” The resistance fighters were young men who still had their lives ahead of them. They would have fought to the death for their homeland.
Steinmeier stressed that “given this difficult history”, it is gratifying that the friendship between the two countries has grown so strong that it “has become virtually independent of political constellations on one side or the other.” This is important in a year when legislative elections are taking place in both countries.
The Federal President assured the Czech Republic of German support for the Presidency of the Council of the EU for the coming year. It is certain that the country “will give new impetus to the European Union”.
One of the few controversial issues between the two countries is the European Commission’s “Green Deal” aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. “Our views are a bit different here,” said Zeman, who couldn’t resist a little hit on Germany and its energy transition: the Czech Republic will be looking at the consequences of phasing out nuclear and coal-fired electricity generation. “If there is a shortage of electricity, the Czech Republic, as a major exporter, will be very happy to provide electricity to the Federal Republic – at a reasonable price.”
The Prague government has set a target of increasing the share of nuclear energy in electricity generation from about a third to a half by 2040.