News of Radio Prague

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Zeman taken to hospital

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman was admitted to hospital on Monday morning with kidney problems, government spokesman Libor Roucek told journalists. According to Mr Roucek, Mr Zeman is expected to remain in hospital for about a week. But he declined to provide any further details. Mr Zeman had similar problems last April during a working visit to the Northern Moravian city of Ostrava, but back then he was able to continue with work after a medical check-up. This week, however, he had to cancel all meetings, including important business meetings such as the opening of a new production facility of Dutch-Korean LG. Philips Displays in the Moravian town of Hranice. Mr Zeman was also to meet Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern on Friday, but will have to cancel if his condition does not improve.

Verheugen rejects EP passage on Temelin

The EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Gunter Verheugen rejected a European Parliament proposal on Monday, which called for the holding of an international conference on the closure of the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. Mr Verheugen's statement came in response to a meeting he had held with the Czech Republic's chief EU negotiator, Pavel Telicka, who said that the Czech Republic would not agree to such a conference. Mr Verheugen also said that he had faith in last year's Melk agreement, which - with the EC as mediator - resulted in regular political talks between Austria and the Czech Republic on Temelin. Last week, the European Parliament passed a resolution on the Czech Republic, which included a passage stating that any study of the environmental impact of Temelin must include the hypothetical option of closing down the plant altogether.

Transformation of the army

The Czech Republic's opposition MP's and senators who are currently involved in the transformation of the armed forces have called into question Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik's plans to integrate the main principles of the transformation process into law before next year's general elections. Mr Tvrdik's plan comes in reaction to fears voiced by numerous Czech soldiers that after the elections, the new government would not accept the terms of the current transformation process. The opposition Civic Democrat Shadow Defence Minister, Petr Necas, however, dismissed these fears, saying that there was talk of a professional army long before the ruling Social Democrats came to power. The Four Party Coalition's defence spokesman, Michael Zantovsky, on the other hand, agreed with Mr Tvrdik, saying that there must be a clause in the law that would make it binding for any political party to continue with the current transformation process if it should come to power next year.

State found guilty of failed police action

A regional court in Prague has ruled that the state, represented by the Interior Ministry, is to pay 300,000 Czech crowns (a little over 8100 USD) in compensation and an apology to former Yugoslav national, Fehim Hanus. Mr Hanus had taken the state to court after a police operation in December 1995 left him with serious gun-shot wounds. The verdict, however, was not welcomed by Mr Hanus as he had sued for 30 million Czech crowns (a little over 810 000 USD) in compensation, which was one hundred times the amount awarded by the court. The legal representatives of both parties therefore intend to appeal to the Supreme Court for a revision of the verdict.

Unemployment stagnates

The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic stagnated at 8.5 percent in August, half a percentage point lower than in the same month of the year 2000. Labour offices recorded 443 thousand job applicants at the end of August, nearly four thousand more than at the end of July. There was a slight increase in the percentage of school graduates registered at labour offices. The lowest unemployment rate was, as has been the case for years, in Prague and Central Bohemia - and totalled between two to four percent. On the other hand, the highest number of jobless people was reported in North Bohemia and North Moravia, which are largely dependent on heavy industry, with the highest unemployment figure recorded in the district of Most - of over 21 percent.

Inflation down in August

The rate of inflation in the Czech Republic in August reached 5.5 percent year-on-year. Compared to July, inflation dropped by 0.2 percent. The so-called net inflation rate, which eliminates the influence of administrative price regulations was -0.3 percent month-on-month, and 4.1 percent year-on-year. The figures were influenced mainly by a decrease in the prices of foodstuffs and beverages, and a stagnation or decrease of most of the other prices in the consumer basket. On the other hand, the Czech Statistical Office reported increases in travel costs, and the prices of drinking water and pharmaceutical products.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Tuesday and Wednesday shall have overcast skies with scattered showers and temperatures between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius. Tuesday night should see cloudy skies with occasional showers in the north and north-eastern parts of the country. Night-time temperatures should range between 6 and 10 degrees Celsius.