News of Radio Prague

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EU talks entering final stages, says chief Czech negotiator

The Czech Republic is now entering the final stage of its accession talks with the European Union, the chief Czech negotiator with the EU, Pavel Telicka, said on Friday. Mr Telicka said that the main outstanding areas to be discussed were support for agriculture in new member countries and budgetary and financial resolutions. The general elections which take place in the Czech Republic next weekend will not have any bearing on the country's plans to join the EU, said Mr Telicka. The Czech Republic is hoping to join the union in 2004.

Spidla for referendum on EU membership

The leader of the governing Social Democrats, Vladimir Spidla, has said that he is in favour of a referendum on the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union. Mr Spidla said on Friday that he could not imagine how such an important issue as joining the EU could be decided without a referendum, adding that he still had a "bad taste" in his mouth over the fact that Czechoslovakia was divided in 1993 without a referendum being held.

Number of asylum applications down

The number of people applying for asylum in the Czech Republic has been decreasing in recent months. The number of applications in May was 761, down from just over 600 the previous month, and considerably lower than the figure of 1,300 recorded in January. A new asylum law which was intended to reduce the number of refugees applying for asylum in the Czech Republic came into effect in February. The Czech branch of human rights monitors the Helsinki Committee has described the new law as excessively strict.

Most Czechs dissatisfied with state of politics, suggests poll

With just a week to go before general elections are held here in the Czech Republic, a poll suggests that 61 percent of Czechs are not satisfied with the state of politics in the country. The findings of the poll, which was conducted at the end of May by the CVVM polling agency, are similar to those recorded the previous month. The latest polls of party support suggest that the governing Social Democrats are slightly ahead of the right of centre Civic Democrats.

Army awards Tatra huge trucks contract

The Czech Army is to buy 1,230 lorries from Czech truck-maker Tatra Koprivnice by 2007, the Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik said on Friday. The army has ordered 650 heavy vehicles worth 5.7 billion Czech crowns in the first phase, and 580 light trucks worth 1.7 billion in the second, said Mr Tvrdik, who was speaking at a car show in Brno.

Email defaming Marvanova sent from PC in Czech Radio

An email defaming the leader of the opposition Freedom Union, Hana Marvanova, was evidently sent from a computer at Czech Radio, a spokesman for the station said on Friday. The email, which was sent on May 29, is entitled The Two Faces of Hana M and describes Miss Marvanova as unscrupulous and cynical. Czech Radio has asked the police to investigate the case.

Items stolen from churches found in well, priest in custody

Some 30 items stolen from churches in the Ceska Lipa region in north Bohemia have been discovered in a well by local police. The stolen goods included paintings, frames, candlesticks and altar parts, and were hidden under soil and rubbish in the well. Police are appealing for people who might recognise the stolen items to come forward. Three suspects in the case have been in custody since April; one of them is a parish priest.

Weekend weather

Saturday should be another miserable day here in the Czech Republic, with rain expected and temperatures of up to 18 degrees Celsius. Sunday should be warmer with temperatures of up to 23 degrees Celsius, and will be cloudy with rain in places.