News of Radio Prague

Hungary cancels Visegrad summit amid political storm

Hungary has been forced to cancel a planned summit of central European countries after Czech and Slovak leaders said they would boycott the meeting in protest at controversial remarks by the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban. Mr Orban said earlier this week that the post-war Benes decrees - under which ethnic Germans and Hungarians were expelled from Czechoslovakia and their property confiscated - should be abolished before the Czech Republic and Slovakia join the European Union. The summit, due to be held next Friday, was meant to be a show of unity among the four countries belonging to the so-called Visegrad group. Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland formed the group to co-ordinate attempts to join the EU.

Orban refuses to back down over Benes decree comments

Mr Orban has refused to back down after making the comments, and renewed his criticism of the Benes decrees. Mr Orban attacked the principle of collective guilt which he said lay behind the Benes decrees. The dispute over the decrees has already led to some tension between the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria. The EU commissioner responsible for enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, said on Friday the decrees would not be a factor in accession talks.

Havel writes to Mubarak: "We still support peace process"

President Vaclav Havel has written to assure his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak that Prague supports the Middle East peace process, in the wake of controversial remarks by the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman. Mr Zeman caused controversy in the Arab world this week by allegedly comparing Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat to Hitler. Mr Zeman was forced to postpone a forthcoming trip to Egypt after protests from the Egyptian government. President Havel assured Mr Mubarak that the Czech Republic strongly supported peace talks between Israelis and the Palestinians.

Palestinians pull out of Prague talks in protest at Zeman remarks

Meanwhile a group of Palestinian intellectuals and members of non-governmental organisations who were due to attend a conference on the Middle East in Prague have pulled out in protest at Mr Zeman's remarks. The conference, which takes place in two weeks' time, has been organised by the London School of Economics and Mr Havel's Forum 2000. Mr Havel's spokesman said he regretted the decision by the Palestinian delegation.

Czech anti-chemical unit to begin leaving for Kuwait on Tuesday

The first members of a Czech anti-chemical unit are to fly to Kuwait on Tuesday, the unit's spokesperson told reporters on Friday. The Liberec-based unit is to participate in the U.S.-led military campaign in the region and will stay at an American army base. The Czech unit of 250 soldiers is to work with troops from Germany and is expected to stay in Kuwait for six months.

Man killed in rally driving accident

An accident during a car rally near the western town of Plzen left one man dead and several injured on Saturday. The man was killed on Saturday when a car slid off a muddy track and collided with a group of spectators. Several people suffered fractures in the accident during the season-opening race of the Czech sprint rally series in Blovice, near Plzen.


And finally a look at the weather. After a cold night, Sunday will be another cold and cloudy day, with snow in many parts of the country. Temperatures in the daytime will range from one to five degrees Celsius.