News of Radio Prague

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Japanese Emperor on state visit to the Czech Republic

The Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, have begun a four-day state visit to the Czech Republic, their first stop on a two-week tour of Europe. They will be meeting President Vaclav Havel and other representatives of Czech public life, before moving on to Poland. This is the first visit of a Japanese head of state to the Czech Republic.

NATO hopefuls confident of being invited to join in Prague

Heads of government from ten countries aspiring to join NATO have expressed confidence that up to seven of them will be invited to join the alliance at the November NATO summit in Prague. The Estonian Prime Minister, Siim Kallas, told a meeting in the Latvian capital Riga that he could not see any negative signals.

The Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, told the Riga meeting that he favoured closer cooperation between countries set to join NATO and the European Union and those left out, in order to prevent a "velvet curtain" dividing Europe. He suggested that the Vilnius Group of ten NATO hopefuls merge with the Visegrad Group, made up of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and has since been a strong advocate of further expansion.

Temelin delay

Plans to integrate the second reactor of the Temelin nuclear power plant into the national grid have been postponed indefinitely. A spokesman said that the delay was caused by a short circuit in the generator and it would take several days to establish the precise cause. Initially the reactor was to have been put on line immediately after this week's tests. The plant's first reactor continues to work at a hundred percent capacity. Temelin combines Soviet and American technologies, and critics have claimed that it is unsafe.

Smaller parties not to have power of veto in new Czech government

According to the CTK news agency the two smaller right-of-centre parties involved in talks to form a coalition government with the centre-left Social Democrats will not have a power of veto in the new cabinet. CTK reports that those involved in the talks have confirmed that all cabinet decisions will be taken by majority vote. In practice this will mean that Social Democrat ministers will always be in a position to outvote their smaller partners. But the deputy leader of the centre-right Freedom Union, Ivan Pilip, said that the smaller parties would in effect still have a veto, as the Social Democrats would need their support in parliament.

Plane crash

A thirty-six year old professional photographer has died in a plane crash in the north of the Czech Republic. He was the only passenger in an ultralight aircraft, and had been taking aerial photographs of the historic chapel on Rip Hill. The sixty-year-old pilot was taken to hospital with injuries. The cause of the accident, the latest in a series of crashes involving ultralight aircraft in the Czech Republic, is still unclear.

Police announce Semtex arrests

Czech police have announced that in April they managed to arrest two men and a woman involved in dealing illegally with the Czech-made plastic explosive, Semtex. They were arrested outside a restaurant with 33 kilograms of the explosive as well as 267 electronic detonators. A police spokeswoman said that the Semtex would have been sufficient to destroy a 10-15 storey building. The three could face a five-year prison sentence.

Low-key commemorations of anniversary of Czech reformer Jan Hus

Events on Saturday to commemorate the 587th anniversary of the martyr's death of the Czech reformer, Jan Hus were largely ignored by prominent figures from Czech public life. However around a thousand people did turn up on the square in his native town of Husinec, and many also attended an ecumenical service on the site of the house where he was born. Jan Hus was one of the key figures in the European reform movement.

Festival continues

The English actor Michael York has been one of the main stars so far at the Karlovy Vary international film festival, now in its third day. He is there for a retrospective to present his most famous film, "Cabaret" from 1972. On Friday, the successful young Czech director Petr Zelenka has also been in Karlovy Vary to talk about his latest film "Rok dabla" - the year of the devil - which is one of two Czech films in the competition section. During the weekend, festival visitors will also have the chance to meet directors and actors from several other films in the competition section, from as far afield as Mexico, Spain and Latvia. Radio Prague will be bringing you the latest festival news in our broadcasts and on our website throughout next week.

Weather

And finally a glance at the weather...

Thunderstorms are spreading from the south-west of the Czech Republic, bringing with them a danger of strong winds and hailstorms. The unsettled, overcast weather looks set to remain on Sunday with further showers and thunderstorms, and temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius. We can expect brighter weather on Monday and Tuesday, and temperatures may well reach over thirty degrees.