World veterans federation standing committee on european affairs



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WORLD VETERANS FEDERATION
STANDING COMMITTEE ON EUROPEAN AFFAIRS

19th Meeting

LEGISLATION REGARDING RIGHTS OF WAR VETERANS AND VICTIMS OF WAR IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES


REPORT

of the

Working Group on Central and Eastern Europe

Prof. Michał Chilczuk

Chairman of the Working Group

on Central and Eastern Europe

Zagreb (Croatia)

19-24 October, 2004


http:/www.copernicus.org.pl/veterans

Introduction

At the last, 18th meeting of the Standing Committee on European Affairs in Nicosia (5-10 October, 2002), a presentation was made on the Veterans Movement in Central and Eastern Europe, Achievements and Dilemmas, which discussed the current state of affairs of the war veterans movement in this part of Europe, covering a wide spectrum of issues, such as the formal and legal status of the movement, general characteristics of the existing organizations, social and economic position of the movement, as well as its activity both at the national and international forums.

The Standing Committee on European Affairs adopted special Recommendation No. 2 in Nicosia regarding assistance to war veterans in Central and Eastern Europe, by which it obliged the Secretary General of WVF to appeal to the governments of those states to regulate legal provisions regarding war veterans.

The report on the activity of the Working Group on Central and Eastern Europe, submitted at the 24th WVF Congress in Johannesburg in 2003, discussed, among other things, the results of the implementation of the aforementioned recommendation.

The General Assembly of the World Veterans Federation, during its 24th meeting in Johannesburg (1-5 December 2003), adopted Declaration on Rights of War Veterans and Victims of War, which was later submitted by the WVF Secretary-General as a written statement to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (60th Session, doc.E/CN.4/2004/NGO/234). Point 6 of the aforementioned Declaration reads: The World Veterans Federation (…) calls upon the United Nations Member States to undertake urgent measures providing for:


  • Improvement and updating of legislation concerning war veterans and victims of war;

  • Social security, medical care and other relevant benefits;

  • Alleviation of hardships of psycho-social consequences of war and integration of war veterans and victims of war into society;

  • Adequate care for former personnel of peace-keeping and similar operations, before, during and after the mission.

Considering the foregoing and further amendments to war veterans legislation which are now in progress in certain countries, it was agreed with the Chairman of the Standing Committee on European Affairs, brig. Ian G. Townsend, that at the next, 19th Meeting of the Standing Committee on European Affairs a brief presentation should be made of the current status of legislation on war veterans binding in individual countries of this part of Europe.

Prior to the presentation of legislation on war veterans in individual countries which follows, a few methodological remarks should be made:



  • Legislative documents of individual countries vary from the point of view of their volumes, containing from a few to a few tens of printed pages, which has an important influence on the size of the information presented;

  • The provisions concerning rights of war veterans contained in those documents, due to their varied nature, must be limited only to the most relevant ones - those which are comparable with the provisions of other countries;

  • It was decided that the values of war veterans or disability retirement or disability pension supplements quoted in local currencies will not be converted into, for instance, USD or EURO, because this may lead to wrong conclusions.

Finally, it was agreed that on average one-and-a-half pages of an A4 format will be devoted to the presentation of legislation of each country, and the discussed provisions will concern: names of current legislative documents and the dates of their announcement, definition of a war veteran, rights and benefits with regard to retirement and disability pension, health, social, transport and other benefits, as well as the name of the central national authority competent to deal with war veterans issues.

A review of the presentation of formal and legal documents of individual countries which follows below allows us to draw a number of the following general and detailed remarks:


General:
1. All the governments of the 12 countries of Central and Eastern Europe forming the Working Group of the Standing Committee on European Affairs of WVF admit that all citizens residing in their territories who experienced war activities or military conflicts in the widest sense of the word, both in their territories and abroad, consequences of such activities, resistance movement, war and post-war repressions etc., are entitled to a special status of rights and benefits from the state.

2. With the exception of Estonia, all other 11 countries have special legislation devoted to: war invalids or war veterans and invalids, as well as victims of war, injured persons and even persons who were subject to repressions after the war. In Estonia, provisions granting special benefits to persons who suffered as a result of their activities for independence of the country during the Second World War are included in two paragraphs (§ 24 and § 28) of the State Insurance Act.

3. In governmental formal and legal documents regarding war veterans and victims of war of four countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Hungary, contrary to the other 8 countries, the status of veteran or war veteran does not exist. These documents refer to a war invalid, war and resistance movement participant, national uprising participant, an injured person/victim or a person suffering political repressions.

4. Until this date the legislation of three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) distinguishes between the rights and benefits of participants in military activities on the side of the German Army and the rights and benefits of former soldiers of the Soviet Army participating in the Second World War and in the war in Afghanistan, to the disadvantage of the latter.

5. The legislation concerning war veterans of the states whose armies fought on the German side during the Second World War (Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia) does not include any clear statement that former soldiers of those armies are considered war veterans.

6. The legislation of all 12 countries does not impose any formal obstacles for the registration of non-governmental organizations whose names include the words “veteran” or “combatant”.

7. In the majority of countries, war veterans legislation is not stable and is subject to frequent amendments, based on underlying economic and political conditions.

For example, for some time the Parliaments of Lithuania and Poland have been discussing new amendments to:



  • in Lithuania - the submitted governmental draft of a legal act concerning former soldiers of the Soviet Army during the period of the Second World War and the war in Afghanistan (1979-1989);

  • in Poland - the governmental draft of a legal act concerning the mitigation of provisions ordering the deprivation of certain war veterans groups of the rights previously granted to them and the granting of the veteran status to soldiers - participants of UN peace-keeping missions and similar operations, whereas

  • in Hungary - a new law on invalids is under preparation.

8. With the exception of Hungary, in the other countries there are institutions dealing with war veterans and victims of war at the level of central state administration.
Detailed:
Regarding the definition of “a veteran”:
1. The concept and definition of a veteran in the legislation of the majority of the countries are very general, and their underlying aspect does not refer to veteran activity as such, but to “a fight for an independent existence of a state”, although there are examples of precise and tangible parameters being introduced in such definitions (Czech Republic and Slovakia).

2. Definitions and legal solutions in the veterans legislation of individual countries of this part of Europe are often a reflection of the historical experience and political conditions prevailing in these countries:

● In Baltic states, after the regaining of independence, new definitions were adopted of veterans activity, which entailed the fact that any veterans benefits for former soldiers of the Soviet Army and participants in the Afghanistan war were practically abandoned;

● On the other hand, veterans serving in armies which participated in the Second World War on the German side are not, as a rule, considered war veterans, and therefore, they are deprived of due rights and benefits.


Veterans rights and benefits:
1. Contrary to many countries, especially highly-developed countries where special veterans privileges are guaranteed mainly for war invalids, in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe such privileges are conferred both to war invalids and, to a large extent, to other veterans and victims of war.

2. In most cases, veterans from this part of Europe are granted regular money benefits (disability pensions for war invalids and retirement pension supplements), they are fully or partially exempted from payment for medical services and/or social care, and they enjoy transport discounts and other privileges.

3. In many countries, laws on veterans contain provisions granting veterans benefits to closest relatives of veterans who died in war or who are deceased, i.e. to parents, widows and widowers, siblings and children.

4. Certain laws stipulate special privileges for those who were granted the highest military orders or a number of lower-rank military orders and/or medals.


Conclusion
On the 1st of September 2004 we commemorated the 65th anniversary of the breakout of the Second World War, and in May 2005 we will commemorate the 60th anniversary of its end.

Since those historic events, new generations have grown, and the average age of veterans of those days is now about 80.

The Europe of today, despite being the same continent from the geographical point of view, has changed as regards its political map.

The transformation process undergoing in Europe for political and economic integration and integration in the sphere of defence facilitates attempts to harmonize legal regulations of individual countries in this respect.



Therefore, we should expect that during its 19th Meeting in Zagreb, the Standing Committee for European Affairs will make further efforts aimed at the prompt implementation of the Declaration on Rights of War Veterans and Victims of War adopted by the General Assembly at its 24th meeting in Johannesburg (1-5 December 2003), in particular with regard to “full integration of war veterans and victims of war (…), improvement and updating of legislation concerning war veterans and victims of war (…), social security, medical care and other relevant benefits”.
LEGISLATION ACCORDING TO COUNTRIES
BELARUS
Fundamental legal acts:
- Law of the Republic of Belarus of 11 November 1991 on “Social Security of Invalids in the Republic of Belarus”;

- Law of the Republic of Belarus “On veterans” of 17 April 1992, with further amendments, the last amendment dated 29 June 2001.

The law establishes legal basis and the scope of social care extended to veterans, victims of the Great Patriotic War and the guarantees of social activity of veterans associations in the Republic of Belarus.

The law covers citizens of the Republic of Belarus, foreigners and persons with no citizenship permanently residing in the territory of the Republic of Belarus.

The law specifies different categories of veterans, their rights and benefits due to them, including:

● Veterans of the Great Patriotic War, including invalids;

● Veterans of military activities in territories of other states, e.g. Afghanistan, including invalids;

● Children crippled as a result of military activities;

● War victims, including prisoners of concentration camps, etc.
Rights and benefits of veterans
Working veterans:

● Right to have the vacation leave at any time, at the sole discretion of the veteran concerned, and right to 2 weeks or 1 month of social leave for which no remuneration is paid;

● Right to free-of-charge training in a new trade at the workplace or to free-of-charge training courses aimed at an improvement of the veteran’s qualifications.

Retirement and disability pension benefits:

● Retirement pension supplements and tax exemptions.



Health benefits:

● Provision of medical care and hospitalisation services outside a waiting list;

● Free-of-charge medication on prescription, as specified in the list adopted by the Council of Ministers;

● Free-of-charge prosthetics (with the exclusion of artificial limbs or dentures made of expensive foreign materials);

● Priority in obtaining stays in sanatoriums and holiday centres.

Social benefits:

● Right to admission to social care homes without a waiting list;

● Right to obtain a benefit for the duration of unemployment, to the amount of 100% of the average pay (up to 5 months per year).

Transport and communication benefits:

● Free-of-charge bus and railway transport within a city or region (depending on the place of residence) and free-of-charge transport by suburban bus, railway and water transport;

● Free-of-charge return transport (once in 2 years) or 50% discount in return transport (once a year) by air, water, rail and road;

● 50% discount for the connection of a telephone line;

● 50% discount for telephone charges for local phone calls.

Other benefits:

● Discount credits for construction or purchase of a flat, recreational plot of land, summer house;

● Right to obtain council accommodation without a waiting list;

● Right to obtain an ownership title, free of charge, to part of the occupied premises, with the surface area of 20 sq.m. per a veteran and each non-working member of his/her family;

● 50% discount in communal charges (invalids of the first and second groups are fully exempted from these charges);

● Free-of-charge renovation of an occupied flat;

● Admission, without an entrance examination, to institutions of higher education, to secondary schools and to courses with a right to a scholarship.
Social care for family members of persons who died (were deceased) in military service and for other categories of citizens who suffered during the Great Patriotic War.
Authorized persons:

● parents;

● wife (husband), if not remarried;

● children (including adopted children) and other dependants of the deceased, who receive a pension due to death of the provider of their maintenance.


Rights and benefits:
Retirement and disability pension benefits:

● Increased retirement pension and tax exemptions;

● Family pension for children.

Health benefits:

● Free-of-charge medication on prescription, as specified in the list adopted by the Council of Ministers;

● Free-of-charge prosthetics (with the exclusion of artificial limbs or dentures made of expensive foreign materials);

● Priority in obtaining stays in to sanatoriums and holiday centres.



Social benefits:

● Right to admission to social care homes without a waiting list.



Transport and communication benefits:

● Free-of-charge bus and railway transport within a city or region (depending on the place of residence) and free-of-charge transport by suburban bus, railway and water transport;

● Free-of-charge return transport (once in 2 years) or 50% discount in return transport (once a year) by air, water, rail and road;

● discount for the connection of a telephone line and 50% discount for telephone charges for local phone calls for men over 60 and women over 55.



Other benefits:

● Priority in obtainment of discount credits for construction or purchase of a flat, recreational plot of land, summer house;

● Right to obtain an ownership title, free of charge, to part of the occupied premises, with the surface area of 20 sq.m. per each non-working member of the veteran’s family;

● 50% discount in communal charges;

● Free-of-charge renovation of an occupied flat.
Central state institutions for veterans affairs:

- The Ministry of Labour and Social Care;

- The Ministry of Defence.
BULGARIA
Fundamental legal acts:
- Law of 10 December 1998 on “War Veterans”;

- Ordinance of the Council of Ministers No. 168 of 16 August 1998 to the Law on “War Veterans”, with further amendments, the last amendment dated 7 April 2000.

According to the Law on “War Veterans”, a war veteran is a person who, while in service, directly participated in military activities for the defence of national interests of Bulgaria and for the protection of independence of the country. The category of a war veteran is awarded by the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence. The granting of a status of war or military invalid takes place upon the recommendation of a Regional or Central Medical Commission.
Rights and benefits of veterans:
Working veterans:

● For the purpose of establishing a total period of employment of a given person entitling him/her to a retirement pension, the period of war is taken into account, multiplied by three.



Retirement and disability pension benefits:

● War and military invalids are granted a retirement or disability pension supplements, which are subject to the following periodic raising in value:

- group I - up to 72 levs;

- group II - up to 51 levs;

- group III - up to 46 levs.

A war veteran receives a retirement (disability) pension allowance to the amount of 50% of social pension, which at present amounts to 23 levs.



Health benefits:

● 75% discount for medications (from the specification approved by the Minister of Health);

● Once a year - holiday or treatment at holiday centres and sanatoriums administered by the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Transport and the National Insurance Institute - against the payment of 25% of the costs;

● In addition, war and military invalids enjoy free-of-charge treatment at hospitals administered by the Ministry of the Interior.



Social benefits:

● Priority in admission to state-owned social care homes - against the payment of 30% of the retirement (disability) pension;

● Once a year war and military veterans receive allowances to the amount of 150 to 300 levs, depending on the group;

● In addition, persons in a particularly difficult situation may receive an allowance from trade unions.



Transport and communication benefits:

● Free-of-charge transport by means of rail and buses within the province in which they are registered;

● Once a year, free-of-charge return transport by rail or by water transport to any place in Bulgaria and by bus to a place which has no railway connection;

● Free-of-charge transport by public municipal means of transport throughout the country;

● A war or military invalid of the first group is entitled to 200 free-of-charge telephone units.

Other benefits:

● A holder of military order “For courage” is entitled to three free-of-charge return trips by rail or by water transport to any place in the country and by bus to a place which has no railway connection.


Social care of family members of veterans:
● As regards retirement and disability pension benefits, if a wife of a veteran does not work, she receives 50% of her husband’s pension;

● In particularly difficult cases, a family member may receive, once a year, a social benefit to the amount of 100 levs.


Central state institutions for veterans affairs:

The Ministry of Defence, Department of Personnel Policy and Social Adaptation.


CZECH REPUBLIC
Fundamental legal acts:
The first legal act is the Law of 19 December 1946 on “Servicemen of Czechoslovakian Army abroad and some other participants in National Fight for Liberation” (Act No. 255/1946 Code, amended by Act No. 101/1946 Code).

On 9 April 2002, the Czech Parliament adopted new law No. 170/2002 on “War Veterans” (Act No. 170/2002 Code).

According to the above law, a war veteran is a citizen of the Czech Republic who, as a serviceman, carried out a military service continuously for the minimum duration of 30 calendar days in the area of a military conflict or international peace-keeping operations under the patronage of an international organization in which the Czech Republic is a member. If the military conflict or peace-keeping operation took less than 30 days, it is understood that the condition of the service period required had been met in full. The condition is also met if a serviceman suffered actual bodily harm while serving in the area of operations or during activities directly related to their duties or if they acted in an exceptionally superior and merited manner. A war veteran is also a citizen of the Czech Republic who participated in the national fight for liberation during the period between 1939 and 1945 and received a certificate pursuant to Act No. 255/1946 section 1.d (for Czechoslovakian partisans), 1.e. (for those who participated for at least 3 months in the activities of foreign or national movement aimed at the liberation of the Republic of Czechoslovakia or in the national Slovak uprising. In the event of the Slovak uprising, the time limit is deemed to be fulfilled even if not actually elapsed if the person concerned or his/her family died, suffered actual bodily harm or deprivation of freedom) or 1.f. (for those who participated in the uprising in May 1945).
Rights and benefits or veterans:
Retirement and disability pension benefits:

● War veterans do not receive any retirement or disability pension supplements.



Health benefits:

● Free-of-charge medical care, but medications have to be paid for;

● A money allowance to cover subsidised sanatorium treatment to the amount of 8,000 CZK;

● A money allowance to cover non-subsidised sanatorium treatment to the amount of 13,000 CZK.



Social benefits:

● A money supplement for short-term residence in a social care home, to the maximum amount of 10,000 CZK;

● A money supplement for spouses of persons authorized to residence in a social care home;

● A money supplement for foreign holiday lasting minimum 7 days, up to the value of 6,000 CZK;

● A money supplement for domestic holiday lasting minimum 6 days, up to the value of 3,000 CZK.

Transport and communication benefits:

● War invalids receive transport discounts comparable to those enjoyed by other invalids;

● Persons over 70 can travel free-of-charge by municipal transport and have discounts for trips by rail or bus.




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