News of Radio Prague
"This is Radio Free Afghanistan" - RFE resumes Pashtu, Dari broadcasts
The U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe has begun broadcasting to Afghanistan from its headquarters in the Czech capital Prague. The broadcasts began at 2pm CET on Wednesday with the words "This is Radio Free Afghanistan", followed by a half-hour programme in the Pashtu language. More programmes will follow in the second main language of Afghanistan, Dari. Radio Free Europe eventually wants to broadcast to the country for 12 hours a day, resuming a service which was suspended in the 1980s.
Kavan: RFE should find new home by summer
And as the broadcasts began, the Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said he would like to see Radio Free Europe move to a new location by the summer. Speaking after talks with the U.S. ambassador Craig Stapleton and the station's president Thomas Dine, Mr Kavan said he hoped the three parties would find a suitable location before the present government's mandate expires in June. The Czech authorities say Radio Free Europe's current headquarters - at the top of Wenceslas Square in the centre of Prague - pose a major security risk. The station itself is reluctant to move, but says it will consider other suitable locations in Prague.
Kavan calls on Austrian government to distance itself from remarks
Mr Kavan has called on the Austrian government to distance itself from remarks made by the general secretary of the far-right Freedom Party, amid a continuing war of words between Prague and Vienna over the two countries' wartime past. Peter Sichrovsky, General Secretary of the minor coalition Freedom Party, said on Monday that the Czech authorities had not done enough to compensate Holocaust victims after the Second World War. The comments have been condemned by the Czech government and the Prague Jewish community. The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has already caused uproar by describing the Freedom Party as "post-fascist."
Havel to announce date of general elections
The Czech President Vaclav Havel is due to announce the date of the next general election on Wednesday. The president's spokesman said the date will be announced following a meeting with Prime Minister Zeman. Four major political parties will contest the election, expected to be the last before the Czech Republic joins the European Union. The election for the next four-year term of the 200-seat lower house must be held between May 20 and June 21.
Trvdik: work together in fight against terrorism
Defence Minister Jaroslav Trvdik has said the country's police, intelligence and health services should join the military in protecting the country from terrorism. Speaking in an address to the Czech Senate, Mr Tvrdik called for parliament to spread the cost of anti-terrorism initiatives between several agencies. He said the health ministry should be prepared to handle domestic threats and emergencies involving biological attacks, while the interior ministry's intelligence services should be capable of tracking terrorists on Czech soil and co-operating with foreign intelligence agencies.
Record-breaking temperatures confuse residents of Prague Zoo
The unseasonably warm weather in the Czech Republic continues to break historical records - a temperature of 12.8 degrees Celsius was recorded on January 30th, the warmest since records began in 1884. It was the third successive day of record temperatures in the country. The sunshine and warm weather is said to be confusing residents of Prague Zoo. A spokesman for the zoo said exotic birds had begun gathering material for nests, and several bears emerged from hibernation. The spokesman said the bears had now gone back to sleep.
And finally a look at the weather forecast. Wednesday night will be mild, with rain in places. Thursday will be mostly cloudy with some sunny periods, and the possibility of rain heading in from the west. Temperatures on Thursday will peak at 13 degrees Celsius.