News of Radio Prague

Slovak Roma welcome removal of British immigration officials

An organisation representing the Roma minority in Slovakia has welcomed the British government's decision to remove British immigration officials from Prague's Ruzyne airport. The officials have been working at the airport since July 18th to try to reduce the number of Czech nationals seeking asylum in the UK. As the overwhelming majority of those seeking asylum are from the Czech Republic's Roma minority, human rights organisations and Roma groups have described the measures as racist and discriminatory. In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Slovak Roma Initiative says that it seems that protests against the controls have been accepted by the British authorities, and that the British government should now resolve its immigration problems at home, and not on foreign soil.

On a related note, representatives of a Roma neighbourhood watch scheme in the Northern Moravian city of Ostrava have filed charges against a local restaurant for apparently refusing to serve members of the Roma community. The neighbourhood watch scheme was launched in Ostrava after four extreme right skinheads attacked a group of Romanies in June. According to a leading Roma representative in Ostrava, Mikulas Horvath, he and several other Romanies were refused service by staff in the restaurant, saying that Roma were not allowed on the premises.

Fresh protests in Austria over Temelin

The governor of Upper Austria, Josef Puhringer, has described plans to restart tests at the Temelin nuclear power plant as a severe act of provocation. Mr Puhringer warned CEZ, the energy utility in charge of Temelin, and the Czech government that if they continue to provoke Austria, this could jeopardise the Czech Republic's chances of joining the EU. The issue of Temelin, which lies just fifty kilometres from the Austrian border, has strained relations between the two countries over the past year, as many Austrians are concerned over safety standards at the plant. Austrian environmental activists also protested on Wednesday against the plans to restart test operations at Temelin, and have announced that a fresh blockade of one Czech-Austrian border crossing will take place on Friday.

Employment rises for first time in 2001

Unemployment has risen in the Czech Republic for the first time this year. According to figures released on Wednesday, the rate of unemployment rose by 0.4% in July to 8.5%. The number of unemployed people registered in the Czech Republic now stands at almost 440,000, an increase of just under 20,000 over the month of June. The lowest level of unemployment, of around 3 percent, was recorded in Prague, while highest figures was recorded in the Northern Bohemian industrial town of Most, where more than a fifth, or some 21.5 percent, of the workforce are jobless.

Inflation hits highest level since end of 1998

Staying with business news, and the rate of inflation in the Czech Republic in July reached its highest level in almost three years. Year-on-year inflation in July hit 5.9%, an increase of one percent over the figures for June. The increase was apparently caused by extra costs incurred by travel agencies to meet insurance requirements, and increased consumer demand. The rate of inflation is expected to drop slightly during the rest of the year, and the Czech National Bank estimates that inflation in 2001 will total some 5.8%.


And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast. Thursday in the Czech Republic should see overcast skies, with occasional rain showers and thunderstorms in places. Daytime highs could reach up to 25 degrees Celsius. Night-time lows on Thursday are expected to drop to 12 degrees Celsius. The weather is due to stay wet amd cool over the weekend.