The Czech parliament on Thursday approved an ambitious plan to return billions of dollars worth of church property that was confiscated by the communists in a vote that represented a victory for Prime Minister Petr Necas.
The law envisages handing churches land, property, and financial compensation worth about $7 billion over a period of 30 years. Under the plan, the churches would become independent from the state and gradually stop getting government financing.
The agreement should unlock about 6 percent of the country’s forests and fields that once belonged to mostly Christian churches but which have been tied up pending a resolution of the restitution question.
That land, which was confiscated by the communists after 1948, could in future be developed, rented or sold.
The 200-seat lower house of parliament approved the necessary legislation with 102 MPs voting in favor, overturning a veto by the Senate, the upper house, which opposed the move.