I'll add a bit of background. The decision was originally taken on Oct.
14., at the European Economic Area's (EEA) joint session, when Prince
Nicholas of Liechtenstein prevented Slovakia from joining the EEA. His
step does not affect Slovakia's upcoming entry to the European Union (EU),
which is quite important for Slovak economy.
The EEA is an association of European countries that are not EU members.
Should Prince Nicholas prevail, Slovakia, along with the Czech Republic,
would not be able to benefit from free trade with Island, Liechtenstein,
and Norway -- all members of the EEA, but not the EU. Trade with these
three countries is not of major importance for Slovakia. The total
benefit from membership would be $14-15 million. But it is an unwelcome
diplomatic complication for Bratislava.
Liechtenstein is a tiny Alpine principality closely associated with
Switzerland. It had a similar association with Austria, and consequently
Germany before World War II. Its area is marginally larger than the city
of Pittsburgh, but is much less populous. Its capital Vaduz has only
5,000 inhabitants. All-in-all, Prince Nicholas rules about 33,00
subjects. Liechtenstein is often criticized for its secretive banking
laws conducive to money laundering.
Prince Nicholas's wrath is aimed at the Czech Republic, and Slovakia is
affected as one of the two successor states of the former Czecho-Slovakia.
The Liechtensteins used to be large feudal landowners in the Habsburg
monarchy, particularly in the Margraviate of Moravia (now part of the
Czech Republic). They retained their possession after the monarchy's
defeat by the U.S. and allies in 1918, and the foundation of
Czecho-Slovakia. However, their property in Czecho-Slovakia was
confiscated after World War II. Prague then viewed the Principality of
Liechtenstein as semi-integrated with Hitler's Germany, and therefore
subject to war retributions.
The Liechtensteins' confiscated possessions in what is the Czech Republic
today included about 25,000 acres of fertile arable land, factories,
castles and other structures, and works of art. Prince Nicholas now
demands an apology, and partial compensation. His financial claims
against Slovakia are negligible, but Bratislava sides with Prague in its
rejection of the demands.
votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu