WHEN German Chancellor Helmut Kohl visits Prague this week, he
must tread lightly. He comes bringing a good-neighbor treaty, but
even so, the Czechoslovakians have very ambivalent feelings about
On the one hand, they welcome the recent flood of German
investment as a source of jobs and a guarantee of quality
manufacturing. On the other hand, they worry about the
"Germanization" of the Czechoslovak economy.
German companies account for a third of the joint ventures here,
and a remarkable 80 percent of pledged foreign investment is from
Germans. A senior government official in Prague said he is
convinced Germany has a coordinated plan to economically dominate
Politically, the Czechoslovakians have appreciated the Germans
"putting in a word" for Prague in the European Community, says Egon
Lansky, spokesman for Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri
Dienstbier. Bonn supports EC membership for the Central European
states, and it helped negotiate associate membership for
Czechoslovakia in the EC, Mr. Lansky says.
"Of course," Lansky adds, "when you make political or economic
deliberations, you need the help of a powerful neighbor."
Germany, he says, is Europe's most powerful nation, and its
might - both economic and political - is increasing. However, the
flip side to having an influential ally, adds Lansky, is that "you
are a little bit scared by his power." Considering
Czechoslovak-German history, he says, "this is a natural attitude."
History was the biggest stumbling block in negotiating the
German-Czechoslovak friendship treaty, which Chancellor Kohl and
President Vaclav Havel will sign Feb. 27.
Sudeten Germans, whose families lived on the perimeter of
Czechoslovakia but were expelled from the region at the end of
World War II, exerted tremendous pressure on Bonn, demanding that
the treaty guarantee their claims to lost property in
Left-wing Czechoslovakians, meanwhile, insisted that the treaty
address war reparations stemming from the German occupation, as
well as certain wording in the treaty.
"There is a good deal of resentment" in Czechoslovakia regarding
the German past, Lansky says. "These feelings may be impossible to
In the end, negotiators chose to omit war-related claims from
either side. "We believe that digging into the past and into all
those horrible things that our forefathers have done to one another
is not of much help for the present or for the future," Lansky