News Sunday, DECEMBER 06th, 1998

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Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail

Zilk apology

The Czech government has apologized to the former mayor of Vienna Helmut Zilk , after an interior ministry report cleared him of allegations that he had cooperated with the former communist secret service. The affair, which blackened mr. Zilk's name has been a high profile media story for weeks. The story broke after President Havel withheld a high state distinction from the former mayor, although no kind of evidence was ever produced against him. Mr. Helmut Zilk has accepted the Czech government's apology as well as an invitation to Prague extended by the Czech president. My relations with my Czech friends remain untouched by this affair, he pronounced.

Zilk- reaction

Meanwhile in reaction to the news, Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima said the outcome of the affair was "no more than he had expected " and that it was no surprise to him that Helmut Zilk was an honourable man. The Austrian and German media feature the story prominently in their Saturday editions. Die Presse notes that the affair reflects the extent of the problem which most post-communist states have in dealing with this unhappy legacy. Only Germany appears to have come close to a satisfactory means of dealing with its past, the paper notes. Meanwhile the Bild stops to consider the feelings of mr. Zilk himself, who as an honorary citizen had been attacked, blackened and unable to defend himself against the lies. The former mayor of Vienna and the Austrian public as well deserve more than an apology, they deserve an explanation, Bild opines.

Czech-German Forum

A two day conference of the Czech-German Discussion Forum has ended in Dresden. German President Roman Herzog and Czech President Vaclav Havel who were both present, underlined the role of Czech -German cooperation in the European integration process and said that the two countries' leaderships owed it to the young generation to put the past behind them and build a better future. The conference emerged from the bilateral reconciliation accord signed in 1997, and both countries made a conscious effort to focus on the future rather than the past. Deputy foreign minister Pavel Telicka, who is also the Czech chief negotiator with the EU, told delegates that Czech membership in the European Union would enrich Czech-German relations, while President Havel went even further, telling the German media that although restitution of property to Sudeten Germans was out of the question, the problem would resolve itself naturally once the country was in the EU, since then the citizens of both states would be able to live and work where they chose.

Attack on Chinese nationals

Police are investigating an incident in which two Chinese nationals were attacked by an alleged group of Czech skinheads in the city of Pilsen. The Chinese men, who are in their twenties, claim they were surrounded by a group of skinheads, and given a severe beating, which ended with them lying on the ground and being kicked by the attackers. One of the men is in hospital with the serious stomach injury, the other , who suffered an injury to his hand, has been released.

Weather

Xmas shoppers braced against a biting wind and temperatures 4 degs below zero as they went about their business in the Czech capital today. Despite the fact that we have had scattered snowshowers over the past 24 hours, Czech ski resorts report poor conditions for skiing.