News of Radio Prague

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Temelin restarted as Austrian and Czech leaders prepare for talks

Technicians at the troubled Temelin power station have restarted the plant's reactor, as Czech and Austrian officials prepare for a final round of talks in Brussels on Thursday aimed at settling a bitter dispute over the plant's safety. Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman and the Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel hope to finalise terms for a compromise on Thursday, which would end months of political wrangling. The Temelin power plant has been plagued by technical problems since first going into test operation last year; all the same a team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded this week that Temelin does fulfil the agency's strict nuclear safety norms.

Austrian President criticises far-right

In related news Austrian president Tomas Klestil has heavily criticised the far-right Freedom Party, as well as other Austrian groups, for attempting to derail the Czech Republic's accession to the EU, by demanding that Austria apply its veto as an answer to the Czech Republic for its refusal to shut down the Temelin plant. The Austrian president said that such discussions should not be left to alarmists whose predictions had "no basis in reality", and stressed that such politics would only isolate Austria on the European stage.

Czech Republic closes tax chapter in EU negotiations

The Czech Republic has closed the tax chapter in its accession negotiations with the European Union, agreeing on three transition periods and two permanent exemptions to EU tax laws. The European Union recognised the Czech Republic's right to a transition period which would allow the country to retain its current 5% value-added tax until the year 2007, when it would raise the figure to over 15% to meet EU standards. The other concessions include a three-year transition period on raising taxes on cigarettes, and a five-year transition period for raising taxes on construction work and heating materials. The Czech Republic also received two permanent exemptions: lower consumption tax on plum brandy and other fruit-distilled alcohol, and an exemption for businessmen who earn less than 35,000 Euro a year, who will not have to register as payers of value-added tax. The Czech Republic has now closed 22 of the 30 chapters of EU legislation.

Prague Castle, NY Metropolitan Museum to hold Gothic exhibition

The director of New York's Metropolitan Museum, Philippe Montebello, signed a contract on Wednesday with Prague Castle officials for an exhibition entitled "Prague - Crown of the Czech Kingdom: Art and Culture during the reign of the Luxembourgs", an exhibition which will present Czech gothic masterworks in New York in September 2005, and in Prague six months later. Jiri Fajt, the curator of the project, said the exhibition will include rare works from the time of Charles IV up to the time of the Hussites. The exhibit is expected to be made up of both American and Czech collections, which will give Czechs at home a chance to see rare works owned by museums and collectors in Boston, New York, Washington, and Cleveland.

49 applicants for key managerial posts at Czech TV

A total of 49 people have applied for 5 key posts at the Czech Republic's public television station Czech TV, including the head of the TV news department at the station's Prague studio, financial director, the head of the station's Brno studio, and the head of the station's studio in Ostrava. The openings are part of a staff overhaul by Czech TV's director Jiri Balvin, who recently won a six year mandate. Mr Balvin had promised to bring closure to a crisis that had rocked the public station in December 2000 and January 2001, when many of the station's employees occupied the news headquarters in protest of what they believed was an attempt by certain political parties to gain influence over Czech TV.

Czech snowball man charged for pulling gun on cops

A 39-year-old man from the eastern city of Ostrava has been charged with disorderly conduct and carrying an illegal weapon, after he pulled a gun on police Tuesday. The man had been throwing snowballs at passing cars on a busy Ostrava street, but threw one which hit the windshield of a police car. When the officers tried to apprehend the man, he pulled out a pistol and threatened them. The man fled, but was later caught. He has been released from police custody, but could face two years in prison.

Weather

Thursday will be cloudy and will see light snow flurries. Temperatures will hover at a cool 2 degrees Celsius.