News of Radio Prague

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Heavy storms hit country

Police and fire-fighters are busy clearing roads after much of the country was hit by heavy storms that swept across the Czech Republic on Friday evening. No deaths have been reported, but strong winds and heavy rain resulted in several injuries as well as damaged roofs and cars, fallen trees, flooded cellars, and power cuts. The storms follow a severe heatwave, bringing temperatures soaring into the mid 30s. Although temperatures are expected to fall to the mid 20's by the middle of next week, meteorologists say that it won't be long before the hot weather returns.

EU confirms enlargement on track at Seville summit

Leaders of the European Union on Saturday reassured the Czech Republic and the other candidates for membership that eastward expansion was on track and would go ahead in 2004 despite an unresolved dispute over costly farm subsidies. The representatives of the 15 member states are attending an EU summit in Seville, Spain, which currently holds the union's rotating presidency. A draft summit declaration said the EU was determined to conclude accession negotiations with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia by the end of this year. The Czech Republic, whose Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Foreign Minister Jan Kavan represented the country in Seville, is expected to participate in elections to the European Parliament as a fully-fledged EU member in 2004.

Group of European intellectuals sign anti-nationalism appeal

A group of European intellectuals signed an appeal on Friday calling on political leaders to tone down nationalist rhetoric and stem the rise of the far right. The appeal, drawn up by the former Hungarian President, Arpad Goncz, and the chairman of the Czech Senate, Petr Pithart, includes the signatures of the German writer Guenter Grass, the Slovak deputy Prime Minister Bela Bugar, French MP Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Vaclav Maly, the Archbishop of Prague. Western Europe, uneasy about immigration and crime, has seen a recent shift to the right and growing nationalism has reopened old wounds such as the controversial expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War Two. A recent series of elections across the continent has fuelled the rise in nationalist rhetoric. A spokesman for the Czech President, Vaclav Havel, said the president fully supported the appeal, although as a politician he felt he should not sign it.

Draft of treaty with Vatican finally completed

Representatives of the Vatican and the Czech ministries of foreign affairs, culture, education, health care, social affairs and the interior approved a draft treaty on Friday that has been drawn up for two years. Although the treaty establishes the legal status of the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic, it fails to tackle either property or financial issues - as originally demanded by the Vatican. The Czech Republic is one of the last post-communist countries which have not yet signed such a treaty. In order for the treaty to come in effect it has to be discussed by parliament, approved by both the Czech government and the Holy See, and signed by Czech President Vaclav Havel.

Man who evaded prison custody returns voluntarily

Police say that a man who failed to return to prison custody on Thursday evening is now back, after turning himself in voluntarily on Saturday morning. Josef Vrabec, a former bouncer at a Czech night club, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for organising the murder of the club owner's wife. On Thursday, he was allowed to leave Vinarice prison in Central Bohemia for two hours but failed to return.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Sunday will be partially cloudy with isolated showers or thunderstorms. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach 32 degrees Celsius.