Over the weekend, the Czech Republic apologised for the first time to ethnic Germans living in Austria for their expulsion at the hands of the Czechoslovak authorities in the years following WWII. At a European Forum in the Austrian town of Goettweig over the weekend, Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said Czechs regretted that these events and actions ever happened.
Fiasco is the best way to describe the end of yesterday's protests by trade unions in Prague against the proposed public finance reforms, say all of today's dailies. Prague wasn't turned upside down as promised by organizers, because far less protestors than expected showed up. But trade unions promise a higher turnout for new protests on Monday, reports MLADA FRONTA DNES.
Czech politicians should express their clear regret over the Benes decrees, Otto von Habsburg, the oldest son of the last Austrian emperor and former European Parliament member, said on Sunday. Speaking at the 54th Sudeten German meeting, which took place in Augsburg this weekend, he objected to the couple of paragraphs in the decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of ethnic Germans and Hungarians from Czechoslovakia after World War II. However, Mr von Habsburg rejected calls to keep the Czech Republic from becoming an EU member, adding that he had always promoted EU enlargement during the 20-years he was an EP member. "I am interested in Czechs playing a role in the European Union and if possible, a positive one," he said.
President Vaclav Klaus has said the Czech Republic and its neighbours must put the post-World War II expulsion of Czechoslovakia's German minority behind them. Speaking on the 64th anniversary of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, Mr Klaus said that while the past could not be changed, the events of that era were "unacceptable" from the modern perspective. After the war some three million Sudeten Germans were forced to leave the country and were stripped of their property.
On Sunday, a group of young artists unveiled a golden bust of the second Czechoslovak President Edvard Benes in a park in the centre of Prague. They did so in an attempt to express their views of the controversial post-war Benes decrees that seem to be never out of the headlines here in the Czech Republic as well as neighbouring Austria and Germany.
The political fallout continues in neighbouring Austria over a report commissioned by the European Parliament, which found that the post-war Benes decrees pose no barrier to the Czech Republic's entry to the European Union. The report, released on Monday, endorsed the European Commission's view that Prague does not need to scrap the decrees, under which some two and a half million ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia, before joining the EU. The report has evoked a furious response from Austria's far-right Freedom Party, which repeated
Austrian Foreign Minister, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, rejected a pro-Benes decrees report presented to the European Parliament on Monday and said that Austria would continue to hold talks with the Czech Republic over the controversial decrees. The historic Benes decrees, sanctioned the expulsion and confiscation of property of some 2.5 million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War. Amidst the Czech Republic's preparation for EU membership, the decrees have become a highly politicised issue by right-of centre and far-right parties in both Germany and Austria, calling for them to be repealed before the Czech Republic was allowed to become and EU member. An analysis of the decrees' compatibility with current EU legislation made for the European Parliament by a group of lawyers headed by the German Professor Jochen Frowein, however, said that the decrees could not stand in the way of the Czech Republic's accession to the EU. Mrs Ferrero-Waldner has dismissed the report, saying it focused solely on the legal aspect of the decrees and failed to consider the political and moral aspects.
The European Parliament's foreign affairs committee will reopen the debate on the historic Benes Decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of 2.5 million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War. The committee will return to the question of the decrees' compatibility with current EU legislation in the first week of October, and will appraise the findings of independent analysts who researched the issue over the summer months. In the past the Czech Republic's controversial Benes Decrees have been a highly politicised issue by right-of centre and far-right parties in both Germany and Austria.
A stone monument was revealed on Sunday to honour the memory of 23 people who were killed in the aftermath of the Second World War near the town of Teplice nad Metuji in East Bohemia. Senior Czech politicians and representatives of Sudeten Germans attended the ceremony which wasn't without controversy. Pavla Horakova has the details.
On Monday, the Social Democrat Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, and party leader Vladimir Spidla both expressed support for the payment of compensation to Sudeten Germans who fought against fascism during World War II. Senate Chairman Petr Pithart echoed their call for compensation, which followed a
gathering of Sudeten Germans at the week-end. Dita Asiedu has more:
Language exams for foreigners seeking permanent residency permit to become tougher
Gunman kills six patients in Ostrava hospital, two more fighting for their lives
Czech teenager builds second-largest ever Millennium Falcon LEGO model
Press: Era of 100-crown lunch special is over, as food prices rocket
Misha Glenny: Organised crime is an important part of Czech economy – and corruption is its twin sibling