A Czech delegation to the European Parliament has handed over a legal analysis of the controversial Benes decrees, which should help to clarify the Czech government's refusal to have them revoked. The decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of some 2.5 million ethnic Germans and the confiscation of property of thousands of ethnic Hungarians at the end of the SWW, have evoked fresh controversy in central Europe after Austrian and Hungarian politicians called for them to be revoked since they were not in line with present day human rights legislation. The Czech government has refused to comply with this request saying that the Benes decrees were part of a broader post-war settlement framework in Europe and any move to rescind them could have serious legal consequences.
Public support for the Czech Republic's accession to the EU has reached an all time high. According to a survey conducted by the Centre for Public Opinion Research 59% of respondents endorsed the country's efforts to join the EU, while 25% were against. When asked how they would vote in a referendum 48% of respondents said they would cast their vote in favour of entry, a record high- up from 44% in November. Both the Czech government and the EU's Information Centre in Prague have recently stepped up their efforts to dispel fears of poverty and "second-class" membership which have plagued many Czechs, especially the elderly and socially weaker groups of the population.
The Czech State Veterinary Office has banned imports of beef and livestock from Slovakia in the wake of several newly confirmed cases of mad cow disease in the country. The first case of mad cow disease in Slovakia was confirmed last September and the authorities now report 9 cases altogether. The State Veterinary Office has banned beef imports from all EU states excepting Sweden, Finland and Austria, which are believed to be free of BSE.
A Prague court has sent a former head of a church charity fund to ten years in jail for fraud. Jan Sevcik, who served as director of the Cardinal Tomasek Foundation is said to have embezzled several million crowns of charity collected in aid of the 1997 flood victims in Moravia.
The Czech President Vaclav Havel is due to leave on a state visit to Italy and Malta late Wednesday. The President and First Lady are also expected to visit the Vatican for an audience with Pope John Paul II. The President's visit to Italy was originally scheduled for the autumn of 2001, but had to be postponed due to Vaclav Havel's health problems.
Meteorologists expect a clear and cold night with temps between minus two and plus two degs C. Thursday should dawn clear and sunny across most of the Czech Republic with afternoon highs forecast between 10 and 14 degs C.
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