Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

22-04-2003

Klaus and Svoboda remain at odds, foreign minister unrepentant over remarks

President Vaclav Klaus and Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda remain at odds following a dispute last week in which Mr Svoboda criticised the president for recent remarks on the European Union. Mr Klaus found Mr Svoboda's criticism, which came after the signing of the EU accession treaty in Athens, personally insulting, and had asked the foreign minister to Prague Castle to explain. But, after their meeting Tuesday Mr Svoboda repeated he was standing by last week's comments, in which he called the president's knowledge of the European Union 'superficial'. While saying the meeting with the president was a 'good step', Tuesday, Mr Svoboda stressed that the country's foreign policy fell within the competency of the government. At the same time Mr Klaus' spokesman, Tomas Klvana, reminded journalists that it was the Czech president's right to comment on foreign affairs matters. After the accession treaty signing last week Mr Klaus warned that EU membership would cost the Czech Republic a measure of its sovereignty, provoking the foreign minister's criticism.

Sudeten German organisation publishes open letter to Czech president

The Sudeten German Landsmannschaft organisation in Austria has published an open letter calling on Czech President Vaclav Klaus to hold talks on compensation for the descendants of some 2.5 million ethnic Germans deported from Czechoslovakia after World War II. The appeal comes prior to Mr Klaus' official visit to Austria on Wednesday. In the letter the organisation said it hoped that Mr Klaus' visit would contribute to solving what it called 'joint problems', to pave the way for so-called 'reconciliation'. Meanwhile, the Austrian daily Kurier suggested on Tuesday that a gesture by the Czech president towards the Sudeten Germans was a needed priority.

Coalition parties agree on tax cut

The three parties of the Czech governing coalition have struck a tentative agreement to cut corporate income tax to 28 percent as of next year from the current 31 percent. Ivan Pilip, of the Freedom Union, said the tax cut would be part of a package of tax changes. The agreement on the corporate tax cut is one of the first results of a drawn-out debate on overhauling the public finances.

"High flying" fraud suspect taken into custody

Lukas Kohout, the 19 year-old Czech charged with fraud, impersonating a government official, and using public funds to commission flights to several foreign countries around the world, was remanded in custody over the weekend. This, after police feared the suspect might try and influence witnesses in his upcoming trial. The 19 year-old first made headlines earlier in the year, after being turned back on a flight to Sri Lanka in December. Allegedly commissioning the flight as an 'official state visit' Mr Kohout is believed to have posed as an assistant to former Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan. Mr Kohout is also charged with having illegally travelled to areas around the world that include Peru, Tunisia, and Thailand, all using official parliament funds.

Two year-old Iraqi boy admitted to hospital

Two year-old Hasan Khalaf, the son of Iraqi parents whose plight recently evoked a wave of sympathy in the Czech Republic, has been admitted to hospital for treatment of cerebral palsy. The boy's illness was Mrs Khalaf's main reason for coming to the country - the family arrived last Saturday at Prague airport, with representatives of a Paediatric Hospital Ward on hand to arrange treatment for the two year old. The treatment of the child, and acceptance of the Khalaf family in the Czech Republic, caps a dramatic turn in events: Mrs Khalaf was originally refused entry - allegedly for 'security reasons', despite the fact that she had a valid visa. The original refusal sparked angry protests from human rights activists, provoking widespread criticism of the foreign police.

Weather

Wednesday is expected to be partly cloudy with a chance of showers. Daytime temperatures should reach highs between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius.

22-04-2003