News of Radio Prague

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Havel: new government expected within two weeks

Czech President Vaclav Havel said on Tuesday that the Czech Republic could have a new government in less than two weeks. Speaking to journalists after a meeting with Social Democrat Leader Vladimir Spidla, Mr Havel said that he hoped to appoint the new government - a centre-left coalition between the Social Democrats and the Coalition grouping of the liberal Freedom Union and the Christian Democrats - on Monday July 15th. Although disagreement within the Coalition grouping has made it difficult to come to a compromise over certain areas with the Social Democrats, both President Havel and Mr Spidla remain optimistic that a governing coalition of the two parties is the best option.

EC report criticises education in EU and candidate countries

A report released by the European Commission in Brussels on Tuesday claimed that many EU member states as well as candidate countries for EU membership fail to provide their citizens with the services needed for a good education. The Czech Republic is included in the list of countries mentioned in the report, which claims that - as far as reading, writing, math, and science are concerned - many 15 year olds lack the required skills.

RFE/RL to stop broadcasting in Czech

The president of the U.S. financed Prague-based Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Thomas Dine announced on Tuesday that the station plans to stop broadcasting in Czech in three months. RFE/RL has been broadcasting in Czech and Slovak since 1951 as part of the "big Free Europe" project. Seven years ago it started co-operating with Czech Radio. According to Czech Radio's Jaromir Studeny, RFE/RL's decision is not expected to affect the Czech radio broadcast, known as Czech Radio 6.

Benes decrees: Verheugen suggests Czech political gesture

In an interview for the German daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said that coming to terms with the past was not a condition for the admission to the European Union, although he hoped that the Czech Republic would make a political gesture by recognising that the expulsion of some 2.5 million ethnic Germans (known as Sudeten Germans) from post-war Czechoslovakia was unjust. Mr Verheugen added that analyses of the Benes decrees, which set the legal basis for the deportation of the Sudeten Germans, would never be a satisfactory answer to those who suffered from injustice and who at least hoped that this injustice would be recognised.

President's office to provide cash for NATO summit security

The Office of the President of the Czech Republic has decided to release 3.2 million Czech crowns (a little over 100.000 U.S. dollars) to be used for stricter security measures during the NATO summit that will be held in Prague in the autumn. Although the Czech cabinet is yet to discuss the matter during its session on Wednesday, the project is expected to be given the green light as it would not change Prague Castle's overall expenditures. The 3.2 million crowns would be taken out of money meant for Lany Castle, the president's official retreat in the country. With forty-six heads of state expected to come together for the summit at Prague's congress centre at the end of November, a high level of security will be required throughout the summit. Topics of discussion are to range from the international fight against terrorism to NATO's relations with non-NATO states. NATO member states are also expected to officially invite up to ten countries to join the alliance.

Czechs prepare for Expo 2005

Although three years away, the Czech Republic has already begun preparations for the Expo 2005 that is to be held in the Japanese prefecture of Aichi. With an early start, the Czech Republic hopes to avoid any problems caused through bad management and an unclear concept as was the case at the Expo 2000 in Hamburg, Germany. Vladimir Darjanin, responsible for the country's participation in 2005, said on Tuesday that discussion on the new concept had already begun with Czech artists, architectures, and experts in the field. All that is left is for the government to come up with the budget for the Expo that is expected to cost the Czech Republic twice as much as that in Hamburg.

Opinion poll on EU support

A public opinion poll conducted in June by the CVVM agency showed that the proportion of Czechs supporting the Czech Republic's accession to the union has remained the same since 1996. Whilst half of the Czech population supports a membership in the EU, a quarter oppose it and about a fifth are undecided. If a referendum were to be held on the issue, 42% of Czechs would vote for accession and 17% against. This result, however, differs slightly from other opinion polls made by agencies within the last few months. Here, in the case of a referendum, the number of people against accession always exceeded 30% of the population.

Poles choose Bush over Havel

Another public opinion poll, this time conducted by the CBOS agency in Poland, shows that nearly three quarters of Poles like George W. Bush - making the U.S. president the most popular foreign politician in Poland. Mr Bush received a 73 percent popularity rating, followed by Czech President Vaclav Havel - a former playwright and pro-democracy dissident - who got an approval rating of 67 percent. Russian President Vladimir Putin came in third, with a rating of 53 percent attesting to improved Polish-Russian relations.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Wednesday is expected to be cloudy with scattered showers and thunder storms in the late afternoon hours. Temperatures have been forecast between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius in the western parts of the country, reaching a maximum of 28 degrees Celsius in Moravia.