News of Radio Prague

Terezin – commemorative ceremony

The US First Lady Laura Bush on Sunday attended a commemorative ceremony for Holocaust victims in Terezin, the site of a former Nazi concentration camp. Mrs. Bush, who is in the Czech Republic on a four day visit, joined representatives from 25 other nations as they laid wreaths at a mass grave for some 10,000 Holocaust victims. Speaking at the annual ceremony marking the camp's liberation the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman said it was important for new generations to remember the past so that such atrocities might never be repeated. He warned against those who would deny the Holocaust. Also known as Theresienstadt, the 200 year old fortress town was transformed by the Nazis into a camp where Jews from across Europe were massed until they could be transported to extermination camps. Over 150,000 prisoners entered its gates. 35,000 died there of stress, hunger and atrocious living conditions.

US First Lady -schedule

On Monday the US First Lady Laura Bush will visit Prague Castle for a meeting with President Havel and his wife Dagmar. On Tuesday Mrs. Bush is expected to tour Prague based RFE/RL. A strong advocate for aid to war-ravaged Afghanistan, Mrs. Bush will deliver a radio address to the Afghan people. The US First Lady has toured several European states on her own and she is scheduled to join President Bush on Wednesday for an official visit to Germany, Russia, France and Italy.

Archbishop Graubner under fire

The archbishop of Olomouc Jan Graubner has been criticized for serving mass at a gathering of the Sudeten German Landsmanshaft, an organization which defends the rights of some 2.5 million ethnic Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after WWII. Czech politicians and war veterans described the archbishop's presence at the gathering, which traditionally fuels anti-Czech sentiments, as imprudent and unfortunate. The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman said archbishop Graubner was "further fanning the flames of controversy". The archbishop has rejected the criticism, saying that he believed the Church could play a significant role in achieving proper reconciliation between the two nations. The Czech Christian Democrats have refrained from comment.

Controversy over Benes decrees

Meanwhile, at the weekend gathering of the Sudeten German Landsmanshaft German politicians called on the Czech Republic to revoke the Benes decrees which sanctioned the post war expulsions. The German Interior Minister Otto Schily said that revoking the decrees should not open the way to compensation claims relating to the expulsions. The statement met with heated protests from the gathering. Edmund Stoiber, conservative candidate for the post of chancellor, promised that if he won the elections he would work to see the decrees overturned. Neither politician linked the issue to the Czech Republic's accession to the EU.

Austrian anti-nuclear protest

Close to 60 Austrian anti-nuclear activists attended a protest against the Temelin nuclear power plant close to the Austrian border crossing Wullowitz on Sunday. The activists made no attempt to disrupt border traffic, gathering outside a local pub and handing out leaflets to passers by. According to reporters the event resembled a happening, with food, drink and an auction intended to raise funds for the anti-nuclear cause. Austrian anti-nuclear activists want the Czech government to close down the Temelin nuclear power plant located some 50 kms from the Austrian border, on the grounds that it is not safe. The Czech government maintains that the plant fully adheres to international safety norms.

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast:

A belt of rain moving in from the north west has affected the weather mainly in the western part of the Czech Republic bringing overcast skies and rain. We can expect more rain overnight and on Monday, with day temps dropping to between 18 and 22 degs C.