News of Radio Prague

French Minister congratulates Zeman on progress

The French Minister for European Affairs, Pierre Moscovici, informed Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman during a meeting in Prague on Monday that the past few months had seen significant progress in the Czech Republic's preparations for EU membership. The Czech Republic has already closed 19 out of the 31 chapters of legislation necessary to join the Union and intends to concentrate on finalising six more by the end of the year and close the rest in the first half of 2002. Mr Moscovici said that the country was now truly a front-runner candidate and its goal to meet all EU requirements and close all chapters by the middle of next year was realistic.

Visegrad Four hopes to minimise free movement of labour transition period

After a meeting held in Prague on Monday, representatives of the Visegrad Four said that they intend to do all they can to minimise the transition period regarding the free movement of labour after EU expansion. Germany and Austria have suggested a seven-year transition period, fearing an influx of cheap labour from the East upon enlargement. The Visegrad Group, however, which comprises of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia, have noted that the free movement of persons was a basic freedom for an integrated Europe. The Chairman of the Slovak Office for European Integration, Frantisek Sebej, furthermore said that it was something that would in the future represent the European identity, much more than the free movement of goods, for example.

Public hearing on Temelin underway in Austria

Some 30 Austrian anti-nuclear activists tried to block the entrance to the Hofburg Reduta Hall in Austria on Monday morning. Here, as part of the Melk agreement signed last year by Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel and Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, a public hearing organised by the Austrian Ministry of Environment, is taking place regarding the results of an environmental impact study made on the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. After several requests to clear the entrance were ignored, the police were called to physically remove the activists. The blockade was organised by the Upper Austria Platform Against Nuclear Danger, Greenpeace and Global 2000.

5-year old still missing

Police are still looking for five-year old Tereza Cermakova who has been missing without a trace since last Wednesday. 600 policemen with the aid of police dogs, helicopters, and numerous volunteers are currently looking for the little girl in the Central Bohemian town of Kladno, where she went missing, and the surrounding area. The police are taking all possibilities into question and are not ruling that she may have been the victim of a terrible crime. Questioning of Tereza's mother also continues as she is suspected of being drunk at the time of the disappearance as she has changed her story a few times since.

GDP on the rise

The Czech Republic's GDP is on the rise. With a 3,8 percent increase in the first quarter of this year it has surpassed that in the USA (2.6%), the EU (2.5%) and neighbours such as Poland (2.3%) and Slovakia (3.0%). This has also resulted in a surprising increase in the Czech household consumption. Whilst the growth of the GDP in the European Union has slowed down, it has not had an affect on household consumption yet.

Humanitarian aid for detained refugees

The Czech Catholic Charity Association has told reporters that it has storage spaces with humanitarian aid at 13 locations close to Czech border areas. The aid, which includes food, sanitary products, and clothing is designated for detained refugees. According to the charity association's migration co-ordinator, it has helped a total of 645 people in the last year alone with most of the help going to foreign nationals who have applied for refugee status. This year, the aid has gone to nationals mainly from Ukraine, Romania, and Slovakia.

Refugees still cross Morava river despite recent deaths

On a related note, the Czech police have reported that refugees are still crossing the Morava river, which forms a natural border between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, despite the recent deaths of almost 20 Indian refugees who are believed to have drowned trying to use the same route to get into the Czech Republic. Last weekend, for example, a group of eight refugees from Senegal, Afghanistan, and Iraq were caught shortly after they crossed the river. They were detained and then deported and the police are now looking for the refugee smuggler responsible for bringing them across the border.

Czech companies may use Egypt's military factories for production of goods

Czech companies co-operating with Egyptian partners, may be able to use military factories in Egypt to manufacture their goods, a representative of the state agency Czechtrade said on Monday. At the moment, only a third of the capacity of the factories is used and Egyptian businesses would therefore welcome the know-how and experience gathered from product manufacture in co-operation with foreign companies. On the Czech side, this would also come in handy as the factories in question are apparently well-equipped and have qualified staff. Egypt is one of the Czech Republic's most important African business partners and Czech exports to the country have increased by 15 percent in the last four months.

Truck brings attention to animal rights

A truck containing people fighting for animal rights that is currently on a tour of European countries is now in Prague. Its goal is to bring awareness to the horrific ordeal that animals have to undergo during the dozens of hours they spend whilst being transported from Northern Europe to countries in the south like Italy and Greece. Activists from Prague have decided to take part in the journey because one of the transport routes from the Baltic states to Italy runs through the Czech Republic. The State Veterinary Authority limited the number of animal transports going through the country five years ago, but has now realised that these measures only resulted in longer trips across the Ukraine. The truck is now travelling through nine countries, showing things like shocking posters of cruelty to animals and documentary films.

Two dead after car smashes into train

Two people were killed and two more injured on Monday morning after a car smashed into a train close to the town of Chomutov in North-western Bohemia. The Lancia, which had Polish license plates, tried to drive over an unmarked level crossing and was swept away by a passing train. None of the passengers on the train were hurt and the cause of the accident is currently under investigation.

Weather forecast

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Last week I said the raining season was here to stay for a few more days and now I can finally wave it good-bye. Of course, we'll see a few showers here and there throughout the week but nothing like the past two weeks as Tuesday's expected to be warm and sunny with day-time temperatures ranging between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius. Tuesday night shall see almost clear skies with temperatures between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius. Wednesday and Thursday will be much the same with temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius.