News of Radio Prague

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President Havel supports Parliament's resolution on Benes decrees

President Havel has expressed support for a resolution on the controversial Benes decrees which the Czech Parliament is expected to approve on Wednesday. The resolution, which has received preliminary support from all Czech parliamentary parties, states that the Benes decrees are part of a bigger post-war settlement package, part of the country's legal history and as such are "irrevocable and untouchable". Amidst continuing international controversy over the Benes decrees, President Havel told the CTK press agency that the resolution reflects his own views on the matter. The Benes decrees sanctioned the expulsion of 2.5 million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia at the end of the SWW and the confiscation of property of thousands of ethnic Hungarians. Some politicians in these states would like to see them revoked.

EP deputies say Benes decrees may be an obstacle to Czech EU accession

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the joint Czech-EU accession committee in Prague, some deputies of the European Parliament expressed the view that although controversy over the Benes decrees should not disrupt the accession process the Czech Republic should not be allowed to join the EU until it had revoked the decrees. The co-chairwoman of the committee Ursula Stenzel, said she hoped that the resolution which the Czech Parliament is planning to approve will not close the door to further negotiations.

President vetoes Public Radio law

President Havel has vetoed a new law on Czech Public Radio on the grounds that it does not adequately guarantee conditions for independent broadcasting. The President emphasized the fact that the Radio Council should be elected by both Houses of Parliament, not just the Lower Chamber, in order to minimize the danger of political pressure on public broadcasting. He also pointed out that it is not a good idea for politicians to establish an "ethical codex" for public broadcasting. According to the president that should be done by a team of independent media experts.

Defense Minister wants action on field hospital

The Czech Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik is pushing for action in Parliament where deputies are expected to vote on the means of financing a Czech field hospital in Afghanistan. The government is in favour of issuing bonds worth 600 million crowns to help cover the expenditures but opposition politicians have criticized the plan, saying the government must find the money elsewhere. The Defense Minister is pushing for action and has threatened to resign if Parliament fails to find a means of financing the planned mission. The governing Social Democrats are planning to request an extraordinary Parliament session devoted to the matter. Meanwhile, an advance team of 30 Czech soldiers is to leave for Kabul on Wednesday to prepare the ground for the field hospital.

PM Zeman bows out with insults

The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman presented what he called his "parting speech" at the opening of the last Parliament session prior to the June 15th general elections. The Social Democrat Prime Minister who has headed a minority government for four years, said he feared the influence of mediocre politicians and journalists on the Czech Republic's future. Mr. Zeman said that incompetent politicians, incompetent entrepreneurs and incompetent journalists were jeopardizing the country's future and the outcome of the general elections by undercover deals and manipulation. The Social Democrat Prime Minister, who has cultivated a hate-relationship with the press, on Tuesday fired his parting shot, noting that undoubtedly the stupidest creatures on this Planet were Czech journalists.

Police arrest car thieves and drug peddlers

The police have arrested a gang of drug peddlers and car thieves, confiscating 19 stolen cars and an unspecified quantity of home made drugs. Police spokeswoman Ivana Zelenakova said five foreigners and three Czechs were being questioned in connection with numerous car-thefts and break-ins. The arrests are part of an 18 months long operation code named Denny, in the course of which the police have arrested 22 people. Cars stolen in the Czech Republic are usually smuggled out of the country within hours, the vast majority of them heading east.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast for Wednesday: as befits April, the day should be partly cloudy, with intervals of rain and shine and day temps between 11 and 15 dec C.