Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel has called for the annulment of the Benes Decrees by the time the Czech Republic joins the European Union. The Benes Decrees were issued just after WWII and the led to the expulsion of up to three million ethnic Germans, the Sudeten Germans, from Czechoslovakia. Austria, which has a large Sudeten German population has repeatedly called for the Benes Decrees to be annulled, and some parties want the Czech Republic's entry to the EU to be linked to this issue. Mr Schussel made his statements in a speech at a gathering of Sudeten German leaders in Augsburg in Germany on Saturday. The Austrian chancellor said that the protection of minorities' must be the cornerstone of the EU, and that the issue of the Benes Decrees should be resolved by the time the Czechs join the Union.
Czech opposition leader Vaclav Klaus, who heads the centre-right Civic Democrats, says that the plan for a common European defence policy is intended to put a wedge between the EU and the USA. Mr Klaus' comments came during talks in Prague with a delegation of ten US Congressmen. Mr Klaus told journalists after the meeting that his comments had come as no surprise to the Congressmen. Mr Klaus expressed his dismay at the prospect of the creation of these forces and that he and his party have warned the Czech Republic's European partners over the issue several times.
The Austrian region of Salzburg wants to begin legal proceedings to prevent the Temelin nuclear power plant in Southern Bohemia going on-line. The regional council's environment spokesman, Othmar Raus announced on Saturday that Salzburg wants to take action because the people feel that Temelin poses a threat to Austria's environmental safety. Mr Raus referred to the frequent shutdowns at Temelin as proof that these fears are justified. Temelin was last put off-line on Wednesday after a leak of radioactive water in the plant's reactor. Representatives of CEZ, the electricity utility in charge of Temelin, say that the water was safely contained within the reactor, but this incident has brought forth fresh protests from anti-nuclear activists.
EU citizens will be unable to buy agricultural land in the Czech Republic for up to seven years, and flats and houses for up to five years, following the enlargement of the European Union. Prague and Brussels agreed on the transition period on Friday, closing the chapter on the free movement of capital. Under current Czech law foreigners are barred from buying property as private citizens, although foreign companies and businesses registered in the Czech Republic are exempt from the ban.
Meanwhile the Czech Republic has rejected a compromise solution on the free movement of labour, proposed by Brussels on Friday. The EU had proposed that the Czech Republic and other candidates for membership accept transition periods of between two and seven years, during which time their citizens would be unable to work freely in the EU. The Czech Republic's chief negotiator with the EU, Pavel Telicka, rejected the offer, saying his country had a number of reservations. Germany and Austria have insisted on transition periods on the free movement of labour, one of the Union's fundamental freedoms, to protect their labour markets.
And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast. Sunday should overcast skies, with scattered showers. Daytime highs should reach 15 degrees Celsius. Night-time lows on Saturday should drop to 5 degrees Celsius.
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