News of Radio Prague

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Czech Foreign Minister rejects Freedom Party's "veto-policy"

The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has rejected the Austrian Freedom Party's "veto policy" against the Czech Republic's EU membership quest. Minister Kavan said in Prague on Tuesday that the anti-Temelin petition organized by the Austrian Freedom Party was in fact a petition against Czech admission to the EU, for as a sovereign country the Czech Republic had the right to make its own decisions regarding nuclear power. "If, as he says Mr. Haider is only striving for greater nuclear safety, then he is preaching to the converted," the Czech Foreign Minister told reporters.

Austrian petition evokes concern in Brussels

The anti-Temelin petition, which was signed by close to a million people in neighbouring Austria last week, has not only created problems within the Austrian governing coalition and worsened ties with Prague – it has evoked concern at EU headquarters in Brussels. EU enlargement affairs spokesman Jean Christophe Filori said on Tuesday that an Austrian veto of Czech membership could bring the entire process of EU enlargement to a screeching halt. "To block one country is to block all the others," Filori said, adding that EU commissioners in Brussels hoped Austria would realize it was not in its interest to block EU enlargement.

Four Party Coalition thrashes out differences

The future set up of the opposition Four Party Coalition remains uncertain, with continuing pressure on the Civic Democratic Alliance to merge with the Freedom Union. The Civic Democratic Alliance has so far resisted pressure from the Christian Democrats to agree to the merger as the only acceptable solution to the party's outstanding debt. The Freedom Union, which is not against a merger as such, has opposed the manner in which the Christian Democrats have issued the ultimatum and has thrown its support behind the Civic Democratic Alliance saying that it would be satisfied if the party settled its debt in a transparent manner. The Christian Democrats, the strongest party of the opposition alliance, insist that they will not allow a political partner's financial problems to mar their own chances in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Behind the scenes negotiations are expected to continue over the next day or two.

Fire at Telecom station knocks out thousands of phone lines

A fire at a telephone station in Prague's Vinohrady district knocked out thousands of phone lines on Tuesday. Four firefighters were slightly injured while evacuating workers and battling the blaze at the Czech Telecom building in Prague 2. No one else has been reported hurt. A Telecom spokesman said between 20,000 and 40,000 lines were down for most of the day. An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire.

TV NOVA's broadcasting license extended until 2017

TV NOVA, the Czech Republic's most popular private television station is to retain its broadcasting license until 2017. The station's license, which was due to expire in 2005, was extended by the Czech Radio and Television Council on the basis of an amended broadcasting law which went into effect last year. The Radio and TV Council has yet to approve a business transaction under which the company MEF Holding has acquired a majority stake in CET 21, holder of TV NOVA's broadcasting license. Vladimir Zelezny, TV NOVA's director said on Tuesday that by selling his shares in CET 21 he would be able to pay off his billion crown debt to CME, the US firm which helped to set up NOVA eight years ago and was later sidelined by Zelezny himself.

Weather

The night is expected to bring partly cloudy skies with rain in places and nighttime temps between 4 and 0 degs. On Wednesday morning fog should give way to partly cloudy skies, and, like Tuesday, it should be a relatively warm day with intervals of rain and shine and temperatures between 4 and 8 degs C.