Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

20-06-2003

Draft EU constitution good basis for further talks, says Spidla

The prime minister, Vladimir Spidla, has described the draft European Union constitution prepared by the European Convention as a good basis for intergovernmental talks on the future of the union. Mr Spidla was speaking at the Greek resort of Porto Carras at a conference attended by the leaders of the 15 existing EU countries and 10 countries which are set to join next May. The Czech prime minister also said on Friday that he had welcomed the opportunity to speak Czech during the negotiations; under a new rule delegates from candidate countries can now speak in their own languages at EU conferences. The Czech people voted to join the EU in the country's first ever referendum last weekend.

Austrian chancellor calls Czech statement on post-war expulsions good first step

The Austrian chancellor, Wolfgang Schuessel, has described a statement by the Czech government on the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II as a very important first step. On Wednesday, the Czech government said the expulsions, carried out under decrees issued by President Edvard Benes and sanctioned by the Allies, were unacceptable from today's perspective. Speaking in Greece where he is attending the European Union conference, President Schuessel said on Friday that the statement offered the basis for the building of a common future and resolving the difficult issues of the past.

EU enlargement commissioner praises Czech statement on expulsions

The commissioner for European Union enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, also praised the Czech statement on Friday, describing it as a clear acknowledgement of European values. Mr Verhuegen said the statement confirmed the very essence of European integration, meaning bringing the people of Europe closer together and creating a firm basis for permanent peace.

German upper house calls for abolition of Benes decrees

Meanwhile, the upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat, called for the abolition of the Benes decrees on Friday. The call was proposed by the state of Bavaria, which borders the Czech Republic and is home to many Germans who were directly affected by the decrees.

Chinese pull out of Prague stage sets exhibition over use of name Taiwan

Chinese participants at an international exhibition of theatre sets in Prague have pulled out of the event in protest at the use of the name Taiwan in connection with one exhibit. The Chinese embassy in Prague said on Friday that the organisers of the Prague Quadriennale exhibition had changed the name from Taiwan-China, implying that Taiwan was an independent state.

Navratoliva calls for smaller tennis racket heads to revive sport

The Czech-born tennis legend Martina Navratilova has called for tennis rackets to have smaller heads, a move which would end the modern dominance of baseline play and force players to vary their shots. Ms Navratilova and other advocates of the change are to put the idea to world tennis's governing body during the Wimbledon tournament, which gets underway next week. Ms Navratilova told Friday's edition of Britain's Guardian newspaper the future of tennis was at stake.

Weather

Both Saturday and Sunday should be sunny in many parts of the country, with temperatures of up to 23 degrees Celsius.

20-06-2003