A group of 25 European intellectuals
has issued an appeal calling on politicians to take a stand against nationalist
The group includes the German writer
Guenter Grass, the veteran French radical Daniel Cohn-Bendit and the Bishop of
The appeal comes after months of
heated rows connected with the expulsions of ethnic Germans in the region at the
end of World War II.
But with elections still to come
in Germany and Slovakia, the disputes will probably remain sensitive for at least
a few months yet.
The list of signatories
for the appeal reads like an intellectual Who's Who of Central Europe, including
leading Hungarian writers and former Polish dissidents.
The Catholic Church is represented
by an Austrian cardinal and the Bishop of Prague, Vaclav Maly, one of the leading
figures of the 1989 Velvet Revolution.
German author Gunter
Grass is among the signatories
The appeal is a response
to the increasing use of nationalist rhetoric by politicians across Central Europe
in the past several months, which have soured relations in the region.
Leaders in Germany, Austria
and Hungary have been calling for compensation for their citizens who were expelled
from Czechoslovakia after World War II, often using emotional and inflammatory
The Czechs and Slovaks
have responded with strong words of their own. Elections have added to the intensity
of the rhetoric on all sides.
This appeal warns that
just as the doors of the European Union are opening for the region, voices can
be heard reviving the traumas of past wars and re-opening old wounds.
It calls on politicians,
both in their home countries and abroad, to make a stand against this.
The signatories also plan
a conference to discuss these issues, but whether they will have any effect is
hard to say.