News of Radio Prague
Havel attempts to soothe national tensions
The Czech president, Vaclav Havel, published an article in seven European newspapers on Friday in which he called on the continent's politicians and other public figures to refrain from breathing new life into old disputes. Referring to the ongoing row over the post-war Benes decrees, which sanctioned the post-war expulsion of Czechoslovakia's German population, Mr Havel said that reviving old images of the enemy has recently become fashionable in Central Europe. Mr Havel also called on the region's people not to allow this phenomenon to become the "inconspicuous beginning of an inauspicious evolution on the continent". The article was published in France's Le Monde, Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Hungary's Magyar Hirlap and another four major European newspapers.
EC says there is no written analysis of Benes decrees
The European Commission has denied the existence of a legal analysis of the Benes decrees, composed by European Union lawyers. The statement comes after the Austrian weekly "Format" published an article on Friday saying that EU lawyers who are studying the validity of the Benes decrees in connection with possible complications of the Czech Republic's accession to the Union have proved the 12 decrees are no longer legally effective. The weekly claimed EU lawyers had produced a 40-page document, which Brussels was keeping strictly confidential. The European Commission says there is no such document and questions the content of "Format's" article.
Borowski - Benes decrees blown out of proportion
And staying with the Benes decrees, the speaker of the Polish Parliament, Marek Borowski, said the decrees legitimising the post-war expulsion of Sudeten Germans had been blown out of proportion. Mr Borowski said that in an interview with the APA agency published on Friday. He also said there should be no link between demands to abolish the decrees and allowing the Czech Republic into the EU.
Field hospital for Afghanistan delayed
The departure of a Czech military field hospital to Afghanistan is likely to be delayed by two days. Some parts of the hospital were due to be sent to Afghanistan on April the 22nd but the government has not yet found enough finances to support the mission. The government wants to issue bonds worth 600 million crowns to partially cover the task, a move the Czech parliament has yet to approve. The overall cost of the hospital and its operation in Afghanistan is estimated at 1.25 billion crowns. An advanced group of Czech doctors have already arrived in Kabul; another two hundred are expected to leave in the next few weeks.
Unpaid taxes and state debt increase
The Czech Ministry of Finance says the Czech Republic's debt has reached 358.4 billion crowns or almost 10 billion US dollars, having risen by 13.4 billion crowns since December 2001. Over the same period, unpaid taxes in the Czech Republic have increased by more than 4 billion crowns, amounting to 103.7 billion crowns or around 2.8 billion US dollars. Finance Minister Jiri Rusnok said that 10 to 15 percent of this amount was never likely to be claimed.
Friday night is expected to be cloudy with rain in parts of the country and night time temperatures falling to lows of 4 degrees Celsius. Saturday should be overcast and rainy with thunderstorms in the east of the country. Daytime temperatures 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. Sunday is expected to be brighter with temperatures ranging from 12 to 17 degrees Celsius.