News of Radio Prague

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President Havel meets Austrian counterpart

The Czech President, Vaclav Havel, met his Austrian counterpart, Thomas Klestil, in Vienna on Thursday to discuss Czech-Austrian relations. Although the Temelin nuclear power plant and the Benes Decrees, two of the main issues causing friction between the two countries, were not officially on the meeting's agenda, they dominated the press conference that followed. President Havel said abolishing the Benes Decrees, which sanctioned the post-war expulsion of Czechoslovakia's ethnic German population, was a highly complex legal matter. Both parties said that there had been an increase in dialogue on the Temelin issue and welcomed the planned meeting between Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, and the Austrian Environment Minister, Wilhelm Molterer, scheduled for September 21st.

European Parliament passage gives Temelin opposition fresh hope

And staying with the hotly-disputed Temelin nuclear power plant. Members of Austria's Green Party have said that they would take a tougher stand against the Czech Republic becoming an EU member. Party Chairman Alexander Van der Bellen told journalists in Vienna on Thursday that one of the conditions for EU membership was the closing of the energy chapter, which in his view would not be possible without the closure of Temelin. His remarks came in response to Wednesday's European Parliament resolution on the Czech Republic which included a passage that said any study of the environmental impact of Temelin must include the hypothetical option of closing down the plant altogether. The passage has given anti-nuclear activists fresh hope of support from Brussels to have Temelin shut down.

Protestors call off Transport Ministry blockade

A blockade of the Transport Ministry that began on Wednesday morning has finally been called off. Members of the Association of Driving Schools and second-hand car importers had blockaded the building and surrounding streets, saying they would stay there until Transport Minister Jaromir Schling resigned. They are unhappy with a new law on the import of used cars and faulty driving license tests. The blockade came to an end after representatives of the protesters met MPs and Transport Ministry officials on Thursday, and decided to form a special committee made up of representatives of all sides that would start dealing with the problem on Monday. Despite the failure of a similar attempt to solve the problem last week, the Chairman of the Association of Car Importers, Jan Slawisch, told journalists that he had faith in the new committee and was willing to give it a chance.

Vaclav Klaus accused of libel

On a related note, the Czech government spokesman, Libor Roucek, has accused the speaker of the Lower House, Vaclav Klaus, of libel. In an interview with Czech Radio, Mr. Klaus claimed that Mr. Roucek had labelled the protestors 'riff-raff'. Mr. Roucek says that he had never used that word and added that he expected Mr. Klaus to give him a public apology.

Policeman cleared of rape charges

A policeman suspected of raping a 21 year-old Romany man has been cleared of all charges. The policeman, from the North Moravian town of Sokolov, had summoned the man in for questioning on a theft case when the incident was alleged to have taken place. The man said the officer plied him with drugs and alcohol, and that he had woken up the next day with bloodstains in his underwear. A police spokesman said the accusations had been dropped after testing of the victim's clothing showed no signs of sexual assault.

Pilip: Privatisation of the energy sector not transparent

The Four-Party Coalition has called on the Czech government to stop the privatisation process of the energy sector. According to the party's shadow Finance Minister, Ivan Pilip, the privatisation process was proceeding too fast and lacked transparency. He said that the method chosen for the bulk sale of shares in the power-utility giant, CEZ, and six distributors was limiting the free market. The Four-Party Coalition intends to re-open the issue at the next parliamentary meeting.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Friday is expected to have cloudy skies with occasional showers and temperatures ranging between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius. Friday night shall be much the same with temperatures between 7 to 11 degrees Celsius.