News Friday, SEPTEMBER 15th, 2000

By Kazi Stastna

From Monday September 18th Radio Prague's broadcasts in English on the f101.1 FM frequency in Prague will change. Instead of our current times of 7.15am, 1.15pm and 5.30pm, we will broadcast a fifteen-minute programme at 9.45am, and our half-hour programme will move to the later time of 9.30 in the evening. You will also be able to hear our broadcasts not only in Prague but also on the BBC's FM frequencies in other Czech towns and cities.

Czech lorry drivers call off protests against rising fuel prices

Czech lorry drivers have called off their planned protests against rising fuel prices after the prime minister, Milos Zeman, agreed to meet with them and discuss their concerns. The drivers, who are demanding an upper fuel price limit of Kc 26 per litre, had planned to block several main roads around the country. The country's largest transport union, Cesmad Bohemia, had distanced itself from the protests. The prime minister, Milos Zeman, and the transport minister, Jaromir Schling, have both said that the government is not likely to consider a lowering of petrol taxes, as demanded by some drivers.

President Havel set to meet leaders of lower and upper houses

President Vaclav Havel is set to meet with the leaders of both the lower and upper house to discuss primarily the progress of legislative reforms necessary for the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union. Other items on the agenda include the upcoming meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Prague, the November Senate and regional elections and the election of the country's first ombudsman.

Austrian opponents of Temelin to carry out third border blockade

Austrian opponents of the Temelin nuclear power plant in south Bohemia are set to carry out the third in a series of border blockades initiated by Austria this month. The planned blockade will affect all crossings along the Czech-Austrian border and, according to the opponents' spokesmen, could be the last if the Czech government guarantees an environmental impact assessment according to European norms and releases documentation on safety at the plant.

EU members approve EUR22 million in SAPARD funs for Czech agriculture

The member states of the European Union have approved the release of some EUR 22 million from the SAPARD fund to support agriculture and regional infrastructure in the Czech Republic and institute EU norms in these sectors. Similar programmes were also approved for Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Latvia and Slovenia and must still be formally approved by the European Commission.

Commission of European Parliament approves resolution on Czech accession to EU

The foreign affairs commission of the European Parliament has approved a draft resolution on the Czech Republic's EU accession which includes two contentious issues that have strained the Czech Republic's recent relations with Austria and Germany. The draft comments on the necessity of ensuring high safety standards at the Temelin nuclear power plant and on the need for compliance of the post-war Benes decrees, which governed the expulsion of Czechoslovakia's ethnic German population, with EU law. Both controversial points were included in the draft at the initiative of German and Austrian deputies. The draft will be voted upon at the Parliament's October session.

Four Dutch and US nationals headed for IMF protests let into country on second attempt

A group of four Dutch and US nationals headed for protests at the upcoming meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank who had been stopped at the Czech-German border earlier this week have been allowed into the country. Police denied entry to the group on account of a missing international identification sticker on their vehicle. The four travellers eventually returned with the valid identification sticker and after trying several crossings were cleared by Czech customs officers. Stricter measures against foreigners have been put in place at all Czech border crossings in anticipation of the arrival of anti-globalisation protestors at the highly publicised meetings of international financiers to take place in Prague between the 26th and 28th of September. Border officials have already turned back several dozen suspected activists.

President Vaclav Havel to host debate between opposing sides prior to IMF meeting

President Vaclav Havel will host a debate next week at the Prague Castle between 300 representatives of governments, financial institutions, and non-governmental organisations in the lead-up to the meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which will take place in the last week of September in Prague.