News of Radio Prague

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Main opposition party rejects state budget

The main opposition Civic Democrats have said that they would not support the government's draft state budget for 2002. The Civic Democrat Shadow Finance Minister, Vlastimil Tlusty said his party was convinced that the state budget revenues were seriously overestimated. His party also criticised the government for not having attempted to cut mandatory expenditures. The Civic Democrats and the minority ruling Social Democratic Party are bound by a controversial power-sharing pact which defines the terms under which the Civic Democrats will support the ruling party. One of the conditions was that the state budget deficit would gradually decrease in order for the overall public finance deficit to meet the Maastricht criteria in 2003.

Austria's Freedom Party alone in call for referendum

Germany's former Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, slugged off Austria's Freedom Party on Friday in an interview for Austria's radio station, ORF. Mr. Kohl rejected the party's call for a referendum on EU expansion and its numerous threats to veto against the Czech Republic's EU membership if it failed to shut down the Temelin nuclear power plant. Mr. Kohl said that if the Freedom Party's measures were tolerated people would soon follow the trend to point guns at each other whenever they were in disagreement. Mr. Kohl was not the only political figure to oppose the idea of a referendum. Austria's Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner said that Austria had already voted on the EU in 1994 and did not need to do so again. She added that EU membership should be granted to any candidate country that meets the conditions. At a meeting on Friday, members of Austria's People's Party, the Social Democrats and the Greens expressed the same views.

Social Democrats prepare for primary elections

The Social Democrat party's Executive Committee is holding a meeting at Prague's Congress Centre this week-end, to discuss the proceedings of the party's primary elections, during which candidates for next year's parliamentary elections will be chosen. In a report for the committee, party Chairman, Vladimir Spidla, warned his colleagues to be wary of donations given to them during the election campaign. Mr. Spidla also said that the Social Democrats needed to stick together as there has been a continuous campaign to publicly humiliate and discredit party members.

Helsinki Committee expects UK immigration in Prague to end soon

The Czech Helsinki Committee expects the British immigration controls in place at Prague's Ruzyne airport to be abolished within one or two weeks. The director of the Helsinki Committee in Prague, Jana Chrzova, told reporters that the number of asylum seekers, mainly of Roma origin, decreases at the end of summer, as has been the case over the past few years. Britain re-introduced immigration controls at the airport almost two weeks ago to prevent what it described as the abuse of its asylum system by some Czech citizens. During the first wave in early August, British immigration officers refused some 120 people entry to the UK. The figure has fallen to less than 20 since last Monday. The controls have been repeatedly criticised by human rights groups for being racially biased, since the vast majority of those refused were members of the Roma minority.

European First Aid Day

On Saturday, in light of European First Aid Day, paramedics around the country came together to give the public a chance to learn about their work. At Prague's Old Town Square and Letna plane, people learned how to properly bandage wounds and resuscitate the seriously injured. Visitors could also have their blood pressure measured for free and got a tour of the interior of Czech ambulances.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Saturday night is expected to have cloudy skies with occasional showers. Night-time temperatures will range from 7 to 11 degrees Celsius. Sunday shall also have scattered rain with temperatures between 11 and 15 degrees Celsius.