News of Radio Prague
Benes Decrees: Zeman rejects Schuessel's proposal for joint declaration
The Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, has rejected a proposal made by Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel for Austria and the Czech Republic to jointly declare the Benes Decrees no longer legally binding. Speaking to journalists on Monday, Mr Zeman stressed that the Czech government did not find it necessary and possible to abolish the highly disputed Benes Decrees. He added that the subject had been closed with Germany and did not have to be re-opened with Austria. Under the decrees, some two and a half million ethnic Germans - known as Sudeten Germans - were legally expelled from Czechoslovakia between 1945 and 1948, and their property was seized by the post-war Czechoslovak state. Members of the Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft - the major lobby of Sudeten Germans in Austria - have said that they are preparing a law suit against the Czech Republic to be compensated for their expulsion. Besides the suit, the group also called for political negotiations by Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
Anti-chemical unit to join fight against terrorism within 60 days
Within the next 60 days, a Czech anti-chemical unit is to join the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism, U.S. ambassador to Prague Craig Stapleton told journalists on Monday. Before speaking to the press, Mr Stapleton met the Czech Army Chief of Staff, Jiri Sedivy, to discuss the campaign and the Czech Republic's military role in it. Although the Czech army's special nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare unit is expected to contribute to the campaign, details of the operation have not been revealed. General Sedivy did confirm, however, that some 350 soldiers are to be sent to Kuwait at the end of February and beginning of March although it has not been decided yet where they will actually operate. Whilst the anti-chemical unit is the only one to be involved in the war against terrorism so far, field hospitals and other military units have also been offered.
Kavan offers military technology to Indonesia
The Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, currently on an official trip to Jakarta, met with Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri and other senior politicians on Monday. During the meeting, Mr Kavan spoke about Czech-Indonesian relations and the fight against terrorism. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ales Pospisil said the Czech Republic had offered Indonesia L-39 fighter jets, guns, and bullet-proof vests.
Czech-Slovak KFOR battalion begins with technology transport
The transport of material necessary for the first joint Czech-Slovak mission to Kosovo began on Monday. The head of the contingent, Lubomir Frk, said the daily transport of military hardware by rail is to continue from the 7th to the 10th of February. The battalion itself is to be flown to the region between the 7th and 21st of this month, in order to take up its post on March 1st 2002.
And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Monday night is expected to have clear skies throughout the country with the exception of overcast skies and fog in the West and North-western region. Night-time temperatures shall range between 1 and -3 degrees Celsius. And the the warm, sunny weather we've been experiencing in the past few days is slowly but surely taking its leave. Temperatures on Tuesday shall range between 12 and 8 degrees Celsius with overcast skies throughout the country and occasional rain in the west and north-west.