Czech emigres gather in Prague

Over 200 Czech emigres living in over 30 countries around the world have gathered in Prague for a four-day conference. Held under the auspices of President Vaclav Havel, the conference hopes to analyse and address the social, political and economic problems commonly faced by Czech nationals living in other countries. Peter Smith has the details:

Although thorny issues such as recovering lost citizenship and restitution rights are certain to dominate the agenda, for many of the delegates the conference is also about coming to terms with the past. Oto Ulc is from the United States: Almost all of the delegates fled the former Czechoslovakia during communist rule. Although times have now changed and many of the Czech emigres are willing and able to return to their homeland, distrust of authority still exists. Dr. Zdenek Boucek is a delegate from the United Kingdom: Many Czechs have returned to their homeland since the fall of communism. However, as a number of the delegates repeated to me on Tuesday, a certain stigma still exists between those that chose to stay and live under totalitarianism, and those that decided not to. Although both groups on the whole cooperate quite happily, many still have extreme opinions. Oto Ulc again: