News of Radio Prague

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Lower house rejects bill on university fees

The lower house has rejected a bill under which university students would have to pay tuition fees. The bill was submitted by Petr Mateju of the right-of-centre oppostion Freedom Union. Mr Mateju said after the vote on Wednesday that the rejection of the bill would lead to stagnation in higher education and would make the Czech Republic less competitive. The left-of-centre parties which rejected the bill said the introduction of tuition fees would limit access to university education for students from low-income families.

First joint Czech-Slovak unit begins leaving for Kosovo

The first joint Czech-Slovak army unit has begun leaving for a tour of duty as part of the KFOR mission in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo. It is the first joint Czech-Slovak unit since the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993. The first 86 soldiers left for Kosovo on Wednesday - over 400 more are to follow over the next ten days. The unit will begin its tour on March 1, and will be under British leadership.

Czech-Austrian relations should be about more than disputes - Klaus, Klestil

Relations between the Czech Republic and Austria should be about more than just the issues of the Benes decrees and the Czech Temelin nuclear power plant, the speaker of the Czech lower house Vaclav Klaus and Austrian president Thomas Klestil said after a meeting in Vienna on Wednesday. Disagreements over the two issues have recently soured relations between Austria and the Czech Republic. The Benes decrees sanctioned the expulsion of Czechoslovakia's German minority after World War II. Critics of the Temelin power plant say it is unsafe, combining as it does Soviet design and Western technology.

Stoiber again criticises Zeman's statements on Sudeten Germans

Meanwhile the prime minister of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber, has again criticised statements about the Sudeten Germans made by the Czech prime minister, Milos Zeman. Mr Zeman described them as Hitler's fifth column in Czechoslovakia.

Trial of BIS intelligence officer postponed

The opening day of the trial of BIS intelligence officer Vladimir Hucin ended in the postponement of the hearing when Mr Hucin's lawyer filed a complaint about the the court panel - he accused the head judge of being biased. Mr Hucin, a former dissident, has been charged with a total of seven crimes, including the illegal posession of arms. Hundreds of Mr Hucin's supporters turned up to attend the trial and there was uproar when the judge ruled that parts of the trial would be heard in camera.

Flooding hits several parts of the Czech Republic

Several parts of the Czech Republic have been hit by flooding. Heavy rains over the last few days have led to rivers rising in areas of south, west and north Bohemia.

Weather

And finally a look at the weather forecast for Thursday - it should be cloudy with snow showers in places. It is expected to be a bit colder than it has been lately with temperatures ranging from zero to plus four degrees Celcius.