News of Radio Prague

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British officials turn away first Roma passengers to London

British immigration officials newly stationed at Prague's Ruzyne Airport have turned away the first group of Roma families, who were trying to board a flight bound for London. Officials began checking passengers to London on Wednesday, in a bid to deal with growing numbers of Roma people applying for asylum in Britain. Reports say that about ten Roma families, apparently all Czech citizens, were prevented from boarding their flight on grounds that they did not qualify for asylum. London says the measures are being taken based on an agreement signed in February, to deal with growing pressure on the British asylum system. Hundreds of Roma families have sought asylum in Britain in recent years, claiming widespread racial discrimination and persecution at home. The Czech government says they are economic migrants. Some Roma reacted to the new measures by saying they would emigrate to Belgium instead. Prime Minister Zeman defended the measures in a statement on Wednesday, describing them as "sensible".

Prime Minister Zeman: No reaction to Germany's call over Temelin

The Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, has said his government will not react to Germany's statement on safety at the Temelin nuclear power plant. Speaking after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Mr Zeman said the government had no reason to cast doubt on either technical or environmental safety at the plant, which is situated around 60 kilometres from the German border. Mr Zeman also said the statement, which caused controversy earlier this week, had been sent by the German environment ministry, and had been neither discussed nor approved by the German cabinet, as originally claimed in the media. Temelin has provoked anger in both neighbouring Germany and Austria, with environmental activists and some senior officials saying its mixture of Soviet design and Western operating technology poses a risk to safety. The Czech government says the plant, which is currently closed for repairs following a series of technical problems, is safe.

BMW rules out Kolin for car plant, Toyota-Peugeot may come to rescue

The German car maker BMW has decided not to build a factory in the Czech town of Kolin, opting instead for the German city of Leipzig. Kolin was one of five shortlisted candidates for the massive investment project, which would have created 10,000 new jobs. Investor confidence in the Czech crown fell against the euro immediately after the announcement. Prior to BMW's decision, reports emerged that the Czech Republic had started courting Japan's Toyota and France's Peugeot, which have both expressed interest in building a car assembly plant in Eastern Europe.

Czech, German Ministers committed to EU integration

The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and his German counterpart Joschka Fischer have reaffirmed their commitment to the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union. The comments follow Ireland's negative vote on the Nice Treaty, the essential EU reform package which paves the way for enlargement. Both ministers stressed that European citizens should be better informed about the integration process, and learn to identify with a common European identity. Mr Kavan and Mr Fischer also remarked that integration should take into consideration the idea of the nation-state as well as an integrated Europe.

Czech Airlines pilots on strike-alert

The majority of pilots at the country's national carrier, Czech Airlines, went on strike alert on Tuesday over a pay dispute. The union that represents about 250 of the carrier's 350 pilots said it was hopeful that talks with management would lead to a settlement. The dispute stems from a new labour code that took effect in January covering overtime pay and other issues. The union secretary, Dusan Horak, claims that the airline owes each pilot about 10,000 crowns, or 250 U.S. dollars.

Police arrest suspected member of international drug gang

Police arrested a Bulgarian man, Darina Anastasov, in Prague on Wednesday on suspicion of drug trafficking. Police seized large quantities of heroin, worth an estimated one million Czech crowns, or around $25,000 U.S. dollars, on the black market, as well as numerous fake passports. Police say Mr Anastasov was preparing to flee the country when he was apprehended.

Czech beef banned in Australia

Fears of BSE or mad-cow disease have prompted Australia to tighten controls of beef imports. The Czech Republic was deemed to have one of the highest risk of BSE, and all of its beef products and imports will be banned in Australia from September 16th. Numerous European countries such as France, Italy, and Great Britain are also barred from selling beef and beef products in Australia.

Car with internet access will be available in the Czech Republic

The first cars with access to the Internet will be available on the Czech market by the end of July. Volkwagen's latest model, the VW Golf e-Generation, includes technology from Hewlett-Packard that allows passengers to check their email as they drive. No word yet on how much it will cost.

Tourists stay away from Czech Republic

New figures show that fewer tourists are visiting the Czech Republic. Some 38 million people have visited the Czech Republic so far this year, a 7% drop from a year ago. The statistics also reported that the majority of visitors entered the country via Germany.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather. Partly cloudy skies with scattered showers are expected on Friday. Temperatures on Friday will be between 17 and 21 degrees Celsius. Night time temperatures will be between 11 and 15 degrees.