Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

29-06-2003

Spidla expresses regret over Benes decrees, but rejects property claims

Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has expressed regret over the post-war expulsion of Czechoslovakia's large ethnic German minority, known as Sudeten Germans. In comments made at a European forum in the Austrian town of Goettweig on Sunday, Mr Spidla conceded that his country had been slow in facing the darker side of its past. The statement came less than two weeks after the Czech government distanced itself from the expulsion for the first time. However Mr Spidla rejected demands from some Sudeten Germans that they be given back property confiscated after 1945, describing the idea as out of the question. Some two and a half million Sudeten Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia after the war. Most later settled in Germany and Austria.

Czech Rep, Austria concerned at potential "centralisation" of EU

Mr Spidla and his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Schuessel also said they were concerned at the prospect of "centralisation" in the European Union. The two men said it was vital to maintain the present system of equal rights for EU members. Smaller EU countries have expressed concern that the new draft EU Constitution, unveiled at the recent summit in Thessaloniki, gives too much power to bigger countries such as France and Germany. However Mr Spidla welcomed moves to give future EU members a full say in deciding on the future Constitution. The Czech Republic is among 10 countries planning to join the EU in May 2004.

Austrian anti-nuclear activists blockade border in Temelin protest

Austrian opponents of the Czech Republic's Temelin nuclear power station held a brief blockade of the Czech-Austrian border near the town Gmund on Sunday morning. The blockade was the latest protest by Austrian anti-nuclear activists against the Czech plant, which they claim is unsafe.

Communists offer to support minority Social Democrat government

The Communist Party has offered to support a minority Social Democrat government if the present centre-left coalition were to collapse. The comments were made to reporters by Communist Party leader Miroslav Grebenicek during Saturday's Central Committee meeting. Mr Grebenicek said the party leadership had discussed the package of planned public finance reforms proposed recently by the government. He said the Communists would support some of the reforms, but not the package as a whole. The governing coalition, made up of the Social Democrats and two right-of-centre parties, could face problems next month over the reforms.

Tvrdik to give up parliament seat after vote on public finance reforms

Former Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik has said he will give up his seat in the lower house of parliament on July 26th. He said he wanted to take part in voting on the controversial public finance reforms. Mr Trvdik resigned as Defence Minister at the end of May in protest at planned cuts in defence expenditure. He said after resigning he would also give up his seat in parliament.

Police to question members of Zeman government over D47 affair

Police say they plan to question members of the former government of Milos Zeman over controversial plans to build a motorway in North Moravia. The Zeman government gave the go-ahead for Israeli firm Housing & Construction to build the D47 motorway without launching a public tender. A police anti-corruption squad is investigating whether the deal involved bribery. Former members of the Zeman government - including the current Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla - could be questioned over the affair. The present government cancelled the D47 project in April.

Weather

Sunday will be another hot and sunny day, with the chance of thunderstorms in places. Temperatures in the daytime will range from 28 to 32 degrees Celsius, falling at night to lows of 13 degrees.

29-06-2003