Liechtenstein has refused to sign an EU agreement on the enlargement of the
common European Economic Space because of several open disputes with the
Czech Republic and Slovakia
Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland have refused to sign an agreement linking
them with next year's expanded European Union of 25 states because of open
disputes with the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Diplomats said the three
countries walked away from the pact after Liechtenstein and the Czech
Republic crossed swords over the controversial Benes decrees under which 2.5
million Sudeten Germans were expelled from the country after World War II.
Liechtenstein, says its citizens also suffered from the confiscation of land
and loss of property and has insisted that the Czech Republic must recognize
it as a sovereign state which was a neutral country during the war. This
would entitle Liechtenstein to compensation claims. Norway and Iceland
joined the protest in a show of solidarity.
In response to the news, which has thrown a damper on hopes of creating a
large area of free trade, trade, finance and travel in Europe, the Czech
Foreign Ministry said Prague would not make any concessions with regard to
the post war Benes decrees. The Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said
that he hoped Lichtenstein could be persuaded to sign the agreement in due
course, but that in the meantime its decision would not have significant
risks for the Czech economy. The Czech Republic is slated to join the EU in
a big bang expansion in May of 2004.
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Iceland and Norway have agreed to sign an accord for enlarging the
European Economic Area (EEA) to include the 10 incoming European Union
members leaving the tiny Alpine principality of Liechtenstein alone in its
opposition, the Czech foreign minister said Sunday.
The two countries last month refused to sign the agreement as a mark of
solidarity with Liechtenstein which objects due to a historic row with the
Czech Republic and Slovakia.
"Negotiations today led to the clearly expressed wish of Norway and
Iceland that these two countries will soon sign the agreement on the
European Economic Area," Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda told