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Sweden does not plan to return historical document to Poland

Laski's Statute was the first codification of existing Polish law done by the parliament in 1505 and a printing in 1506 was the first illustrated printing in Poland.
Jacek Turczyk/PAP

Sweden’s foreign minister has announced that her country does not intend to return to Poland Laski’s Statute from 1505, which was looted during the Swedish Deluge (1655-1660).

Laski’s Statute was the first codification of existing Polish law done by the parliament in 1505 and a printing in 1506 was the first illustrated printing in Poland.

In July, MP Bjoern Soeder, a member of The Sweden Democrats party, asked Foreign Minister Ann Linde to start proceedings aimed at returning Laski’s Statute to Poland, due to the importance of the document to the country and as a show of gratitude for Poland’s activities for the security of Sweden.

Soeder wrote in his interpellation that there were only two copies of Laski’s Statute, one in Warsaw and another in Sweden, where it was “after it had been looted by the Swedes in the 17th century along with other priceless treasures of Polish culture.”

In her written reply, Linde wrote that Sweden had no plans to return the statute and cited the restrictions on the return of spoils of war which were applied by most countries. She pointed out that such an approach was followed by many countries, not only by Sweden.

Linde added that the spoils of war from the 17th century were gained in accordance with international law of the time.

She also noted that issues concerning the return of spoils of war were complicated and, in some cases, it might be difficult to determine to which state or individual the object should be transferred.

The Swedish copy of Laski’s Statute is currently in the collection of the Uppsala University.

The document was drawn up by Chancellor and Primate Jan Laski and compiled nearly all the legislation that had earlier appeared in Poland. It was added to the UNESCO’s Memory of the World list in 2016. 


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