News of Radio Prague

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Gothenburg: Accession talks to be complete by end of 2002

Czech politicians have welcomed assurances by the EU's 15 member states that the end of 2002 will be the target date for closing negotiations with the most prepared candidate countries seeking EU membership. EU leaders said during their closing statement at the EU summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Saturday, that this would make it possible for the candidates to take part in the European Parliament elections of 2004 as fully fledged members. Sweden, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, has been pushing for a clearer timetable for enlargement, but Germany and France argued against making new promises, fearing that this would create unrealistic expectations. The EU statement also said that all candidate countries would have to pay more attention to minority rights and judicial and administrative reform to come closer to EU norms. The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman said that he expected the Czech Republic to meet the target date, having already closed 19 of the 31 chapters necessary for accession.

Tests confirm remaining cows BSE free

Czech farmers have expressed their relief after tests confirmed that 134 cows slaughtered for BSE tests have proved free of the disease. The cows were slaughtered as a precautionary measure after a six-year-old cow tested positive for BSE, or mad cow disease, in the village of Dusejov in South Bohemia. The animals were around the same age as the infected cow and although the source of the infection remains a mystery, were considered potentially risky because they ate the same milk feed several years ago. A spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture said that the slaughter was being carried out using the same standards as in EU countries which had reported cases of mad cow disease.

30 people poisoned after drinking herbal tea containing Thornapple

Some 30 people attending a meditating course in Prague had to be rushed to hospital on Saturday after drinking tea containing the poisonous herb, Thornapple. The head of the course, who did not drink the tea himself, told police during questioning that the herbs were brought in from South America and that he had brewed the tea without knowing that some of them were poisonous. Police are still investigating the case. Whilst most of the victims were released from hospital on Sunday, the rest are expected to be released today.

Three bodies of refugees found on river bank

The bodies of three Indian nationals have been found on the Czech bank of the Morava river which forms a natural border with Slovakia. Slovakia's private TV station Markiza reported on Saturday that they were part of a group of 19 Indian refugees who tried to cross the river from Slovakia into the Czech Republic early last week. The refugees are believed to have drowned as a Slovak border guard reportedly heard screams, and then saw bodies floating in the river on Monday night. So far, there has been no trace of the rest of the group.

Michael Zantovsky elected as ODA chairman

Senator Michael Zantovsky was elected new party chairman of the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) - one of the smaller parties forming the Four Party Coalition. After the election, Mr Zantovsky who took over from Daniel Kroupa, said that his priority would be to take the Four Party Coalition to victory during next year's parliamentary elections. The ODA held its party conference this week-end, to discuss its role in the coalition as well as its programme for next year's elections.

Border police detain 70 foreign nationals

The Czech border police have detained two groups of foreign nationals close to the Czech-German border who were allegedly trying to enter Germany illegally. Police sources said that one of the groups, 59 nationals from Romania, had tried to cross the border using three cars which bore stolen license plates. 33 of them had applied for asylum in the Czech Republic and were taken to holding centres. The second group of 11 nationals from India was detained along with a 26-year old smuggler from the Northern Bohemian town of Most. Seven of them were also in the process of applying for asylum. The group is said to have flown to Moscow by plane, come to the Czech Republic by truck, spent several days in hiding, and had continued through a forested area on foot before they were caught by the police near to the border.

Weather forecast

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Monday shall see overcast skies with rain and even thunder storms in places. Temperatures are to range between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius. Monday night is also expected to have cloudy skies with rain and temperatures between 8 and 12 degrees Celsius. Tuesday should be much the same daytime temperatures, however, are to drop to range between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius.