News of Radio Prague

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Constitutional Court rules in favour of Havel

The Constitutional Court has upheld President Vaclav Havel's selection of governor for the Czech National Bank. President Havel appointed Zdenek Tuma, formerly the bank's vice governor, in November last year. The Social Democrat government said the appointment was invalid and unconstitutional, as they claimed that the appointment had to be countersigned by the prime minister to be legal. The Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that the Czech constitution does not require this measure, and upheld the appointment.

The court also upheld several official complaints by the president concerning the new law on the Czech National Bank, including changing the bank's main goal to focus on keeping down inflation. President Havel's original veto of the law was overruled by the Lower House, but the Constitutional Court ruled that the changes were unconstitutional.

Government approves sending troops to Macedonia

The Czech government has approved a plan to send Czech troops to Macedonia in the event that NATO peacekeeping forces are installed in the country. If a NATO peacekeeping programme comes into effect, the Czech armed forces will contribute up to 120 soldiers from the 43rd mechanised battalion. The structure of the unit would be similar to those attached to the SFOR and KFOR missions in the Balkans, and would, according to Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik, include veterans from those two missions. Peace talks are currently underway in Macedonia between ethnic Albanians and the majority Slav population, and a solution to the conflict between them will likely include NATO peacekeeping forces. The size of the forces is expected to be somewhere between three and five thousand.

Fresh attack on Temelin

An Austrian environmental spokesman says that putting the Temelin nuclear power plant on-line will be an act of provocation on the part of the Czech government. Josef Puhringer of the Upper Austrian Initiative Against Nuclear Danger told journalists on Wednesday that putting Temelin, which is just 50km from the Austrian border, on line despite long-term technical problems would be an act of deliberate provocation. Mr Puhringer said that if the power plant goes on line, he will take all political and legal measures necessary to shut it down again.

Two Czechs arrested with 31 kilos of heroin

According to the police authorities in Greece, two Czech nationals have been arrested at a border crossing between Turkey and Greece with 31 kilograms of heroin. The drugs were apparently hidden in the fuel tank of the car they were driving. The two Czechs, a man and a women both in their thirties, were arrested at the Kipi border crossing, and are due to be questioned on Thursday.

Defence Minister rejects proposed cuts

The Czech Defence Minister, Jaroslav Tvrdik, has rejected proposals to reduce defence spending in next year's budget. According to reports in the Czech media, the Finance Ministry has allegedly proposed slashing the defence budget by fifteen percent, which Mr Tvrdik has described as unacceptable. According to an agreement between the ruling Social Democrats and the main opposition Civic Democrats, defence spending is to take a up a minimum of 2.2% of Gross Domestic Product, in order to meet NATO requirements. The proposed cuts would take spending below that limit.

Weather

And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast. Thursday should start out with partially cloudy skies, becoming overcast during the course of the day, with the possibility of rain showers in places. Daytime highs should reach 22 degrees Celsius. Night-time lows on Thursday could drop to 7 degrees Celsius. The weather should continue much the same into the weekend, with slightly lower temperatures.