The Austrian leader, Wolfgang Schussel, has praised a plan by his Czech counterpart Jiri Paroubek to make a conciliatory gesture towards Sudeten Germans who did not support the Nazi regime. Speaking after a meeting between the two men in Vienna on Thursday, Mr Schussel said it was important that for the first time the principle of collective guilt was not being applied to the German minority. An estimated 2.5 million Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II.
Mr Paroubek has not yet revealed exactly what kind of gesture he is planning. But the idea has already been rejected by Slovakia's prime minister, Mikulas Dzurinda, and a Sudeten German group in Austria.
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