Prague, April 27 (CTK) – The Czech Republic is ready to negotiate the transfer of Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev’s statue to Russia, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats, CSSD) told the daily Hospodářské noviny (HN) today.
Petříček said Russian authorities had asked the Czech Defence Ministry for the chance to take the statue and install it on its territory. However, it is up to the Foreign Ministry to solve the affair, Petříček said.
It is vital that the Czech Republic should observe the commitments arising from the agreement with Russia from 1993, Petříček said, adding that it did not say where it should be installed, but it arises from it that the Czech Republic should provide for its dignified handling and protect memorials from damage.
The Prague 6 Town Hall removed the statue of Konev, which was installed in 1980 in honor of his contribution to the liberation of Prague in 1945, on April 3 as planned. Prague 6 wants to display it in the planned Museum of the Memory of the 20th Century.
Critics of the monument warn of Konev’s active role in the suppression of the Hungarian uprising against the Communist regime in 1956, crushed by the Soviet Army, the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 that put an end to the Prague Spring reform movement.
Russian diplomacy protested against the Konev statue’s removal and Russian bodies launched a criminal prosecution of the Prague 6 representatives for the removal, but the Foreign Ministry of the Czech Republic called this inadmissible.
“If talks with Russia on the relocation of the statue to its territory are one of the ways in which the obligations are to be met, we are open to this. It will also be a question of talks with partners, representatives of the self-rule and counterparts in the government,” Petříček told HN.
The Foreign Ministry is prepared to conduct the talks and since Russia did not address the Foreign Ministry, but the Defence Ministry, it is in contact with Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (for ANO), Petříček said.
“The Czech Republic is a country that observes its agreements,” he added.
The Czech Foreign Ministry said earlier that the removal of the statue did not violate any Czech-Russian agreements.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has repeatedly spoken about violation of the bilateral treaty from 1993. Last week, she asked the Czech authorities for talks.