News of Radio Prague

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Kavan: Czechs still utterly opposed to free movement transition period

The Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, has reiterated his country's opposition to a transition period for the free movement of labour following enlargement of the European Union. Mr Kavan was speaking at an EU conference in the Swedish town of Nykoping, where the EU rejected calls by Austria and Germany for a transition period to protect their labour markets. The two countries want citizens of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and other EU candidates to be banned from working freely in the EU for up to seven years after the countries join the Union. Mr Kavan warned any transition period could have a negative psychological impact on the Czech people, and could sink a referendum on EU membership.

Defence Minister ordered to create professional army

The new Czech Defence Minister has been given three months to prepare a plan to end conscription and create a professional army. Jaroslav Tvrdik was sworn in as Defence Minister on Friday, following the dismissal of his predecessor Vladimir Vetchy for incompetence. The Czech armed forces have suffered severe problems in recent years trying to meet NATO standards, and lack proper funding and equipment. Currently, all Czech men have to serve one year as a conscript in the army, or eighteen months civilian service.

On a related note, the shadow Defence Minister Petr Necas has said up to twenty percent of any professional Czech army should be made up of female officers. Mr Necas said on Sunday that more women should be involved in the army, because their performance to date has been excellent.

Agriculture ministers: take us off BSE risk list

Agriculture ministers from seven Central and Eastern European countries have called on the European Commission to remove them from a list of countries at risk from BSE, or mad cow disease. The joint statement came at the end of a farming conference in Bulgaria on Friday between the agricultural ministers of the Central European Free Trade Agreement countries, which include the Czech Republic, where the list has already been fiercely criticised. In the declaration the agriculture ministers insist that the European Commission review the method used for grading states for the risk of BSE, as they say this has adversely affected the farming industry and has seriously damaged consumer confidence in their countries.

Hirsch: turbine problems at Temelin could pose serious threat

The German nuclear scientist Helmut Hirsch has warned that continuing turbine problems at the Czech Republic's Temelin nuclear power could be highly dangerous. Temelin has been shut down for two months to allow repair work on the generator turbine. Mr Hirsch says that the company in charge of constructing the plant, the energy utility CEZ, is not telling the truth when it says the turbine poses no threat because it is not part of the primary reactor. According to Mr Hirsch, if the turbine is faulty, the reactor has to be shut off periodically, which could create further faults of a much more serious nature.

Ice hockey: Czechs trounce Italy 11:0

Sport now, and it was another fine performance from the Czech Republic at the world ice-hockey championships: the Czechs beat Russia 4:3, and trounced Italy 11:0 in their second round matches at the weekend. The Czech Republic now proceeds to the quarter finals.

Weather

And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast. Tuesday should see more overcast skies with rain in places. Daytime highs are expected to reach seventeen degrees Celsius.