Polish MP calls on Spain to repay centuries-old loan TheJournal.ie

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AS IF SPAIN didn’t have enough debt problems, a Polish lawmaker is now claiming a debt of 235 million zloty (57.4 million euros) dating back to the 16th century.

In question, a loan of 430,000 gold ducat taken by King Philip II of Spain (1527-98) from the Italian queen of Polish origin Bona Sforza (1494-1557) to finance the war between Spain and the France for control of the kingdom of Naples, most of which was never reimbursed.

Marek Poznanski, a 28-year-old MP from the renegade left-wing Palikot movement, has launched a reimbursement request which the Polish Foreign Ministry is currently reviewing.

“I am well aware that my request may sound strange, but I would like it to really make politicians think about the consequences of lending money to other countries,” Poznanski said on his Facebook page of his unusual initiative.

According to him, during the period in question, a ducat of gold weighed 3.5 grams. Using current gold prices, the debt would be worth € 57.4 million, not counting 400 years of interest.

Poland worked for centuries to collect the debt, but by the 18th century it had managed to recover only 10% of the total sum.

Some historians even believe that Queen Bona, who died in exile in Bari, Italy, was poisoned on the orders of King Philip II so that he could make his way not to return the money.

In archaic Polish, the term “Neapolitan sums” was used to describe bad debts.

Legal experts quoted in Polish media are skeptical about the possibility of collecting the old debt due to the considerable time that has passed.

Poznanski notes, however, that Spain recently recovered a treasure trove of 500,000 gold and silver pieces weighing 17 tons.

The treasure discovered on a Spanish Navy ship sunk in 1804 by the American company Odyssey Marine Exploration was returned to Spain after a five-year legal battle in which Odyssey claimed “finders, keepers”.

(c) AFP, 2012



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