News of Radio Prague

Havel calls for world to support Macedonia

The Czech President, Vaclav Havel, has called on the international community to provide political and military support to Macedonia. President Havel, who described the situation as extremely serious, said it was necessary to prevent Kosovo Albanian guerrillas from infiltrating Macedonia from neighbouring Kosovo. Mr Havel pointed out that Macedonia had provided asylum to thousands of refugees from Kosovo, and had always supported democratic, peaceful and balanced policies. Macedonian armed forces have been battling Albanian rebels around Tetovo, the country's main ethnic Albanian town, where ethnic violence has fuelled fears of a new Balkan war.

Czechs want to be ready for EU membership by 2002

The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and the EU's commissioner for enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, have agreed to work towards completing accession talks in 2002, which would enable the Czech Republic to join the European Union in 2004. Mr Verheugen said he expected significant progress in the harmonisation process during the current Swedish and the upcoming Belgian presidency of the EU. The Czech Republic has now completed talks on 13 out of 30 chapters of EU legislation. One of the main stumbling blocks in negotiations remains the free movement of labour. Some EU countries, notably Germany and Austria, favour a moratorium of up to seven years on the free movement of labour from candidate countries after enlargement.

Temelin new developments

The Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety has given the go ahead for the Temelin nuclear power station to increase output to 55 percent. The first bloc reactor is expected to reach this level by Wednesday or Thursday.

Meanwhile, American lawyer Ed Fagan has arrived in the Czech Republic in a bid to stop the plant going into full operation. Fagan has been hired by Austrian anti-nuclear activists, who claim that Temelin is unsafe. Fagan intends to visit Temelin later today. A month ago, he demanded that the owner of the plant, the electricity company CEZ, and technology supplier Westinghouse, provide him with construction documentation related to Temelin's safety. If they fail to do so, Mr. Fagan says he will file lawsuits both in the Czech Republic and the United States.

State budget expenditure cuts in the pipeline

The Ministry of Finance is planning an extensive reduction of expenditures in the state budget for the year 2002. Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik said the target was to cut the state budget deficit to 10 billion crowns from the current 46 billion. Mr Mertlik also said that the ministry was planning certain measures to provide for 11 billion crowns in excess of the planned state budget deficit in 2000.

FDI to grow further

The Czech government's agency responsible for attracting Foreign Direct Investment to Czech Republic, has estimated that the inflow of foreign investment could amount to around 4 billion USD in 2001. The head of CzechInvest, Martin Jahn said that the volume of Foreign Direct Investment had been rising since 1998. Mr Jahn predicted further growth, depending on the progress of privatisation of the remaining state-owned companies. The Czech Republic has been a leader in the Central and East Europe as a target country for foreign investments.

Three hand grenades found in railway station dustbin

A Czech Railways employee discovered three hand grenades in a dustbin at Prague's Main Station at the weekend. A police spokesman said the grenades were for training purposes, and were harmless. However, the spokesperson said one of them could have been used if it were fitted with explosive and a detonator.

Czech weather forecast

And finally, the weather forecast. We're expecting a partially cloudy day with scattered snow showers, especially in northern parts of the country. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 1 to 5 degrees Celsius. Wednesday and Thursday should also be cloudy with snow showers. Night-time lows are expected to fall to 3 to 7 degrees Celsius below zero, and afternoon highs should not exceed 4 degrees Celsius.