News of Radio Prague

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Kavan appointed UN General Assembly President

The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has been officially appointed as President of the 57th UN General Assembly. He is due to take up his post in September. Mr. Kavan, who is the first Czech to hold this post, does not intend to stand down as member of Parliament back home. Although decisions taken by the Assembly are not legally binding for governments, and the President does not have any direct powers, Mr. Kavan's one year appointment is expected to boost the international prestige of the Czech Republic.

Japanese royals in Prague

The Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, who are in the Czech Republic on a four day state visit, were on Monday received at Prague Castle by the Czech President and First Lady. The Czech presidential couple hosted a formal lunch in honour of the royal visitors, after which the Japanese Emperor and Empress went on a walkabout in the Castle gardens and visited the St Vitus Cathedral. President Havel said at a press briefing later that the meeting with the Japanese Emperor and Empress had been very cordial. "We have very good relations on a personal level – and, what is even more important, our countries have very good relations as well," Mr. Havel told journalists. Although protocol does not allow the Emperor to speak at press briefings, both he and the Empress surprised Czechs and members of the Japanese community in Prague by going over to shake hands and speak with people on their walkabout in Prague. On Tuesday the Japanese royal couple will move on to Poland, continuing their two week tour of Europe.

Government agreement near completion

The three parties involved in talks to put together a new Czech government are expected to sign a final agreement, defining relations between the three partners. The final distribution of ministerial posts is also to be decided, as are the names of individual ministers. Although the two smaller parties – the centrist Christian Democrats and the liberal Freedom Union are expected to challenge the Social Democrats on a number of unresolved issues, they say that these are not differences which could endanger the proposed agreement. The agreement in question will commit the three parties to support the governing coalition through its four year term in office. One of the points of contention is whether the coalition agreement should be signed just by the party leaders or by all 101 members of Parliament representing the parties in the coalition.

Czech Austrian Forum aims to improve relations

Over one hundred opinion leaders from Prague and Vienna have called for an improvement in relations between the Czech Republic and Austria. Politicians, academicians and people from the arts world said they were dissatisfied with the current level of political debate, particularly over the Temelin nuclear power plant and the Benes decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of 2.5 million ethnic Germans from post war Czechoslovakia. At simultaneous press conferences in Vienna and Prague on Monday the two sides announced the setting up of a Forum for Czech-Austrian dialogue, the aim of which is diffuse tension and improve bilateral relations. Among the Czech signatories who supported the setting up of this forum are the Czech Ombudsman Otakar Motejl, the head of the State Agency for Nuclear Safety Dana Drabova, Senator and former foreign minister Josef Zieleniec and the former mayor of Prague Jan Kasl.

Karlovy Vary Film Festival

The 37th Karlovy Vary Film Festival is underway in the renowned west Bohemian spa town. Close to 300 films are being shown in the space of 10 days. The festival traditionally focuses on creative filmmakers from around the world who want to make a difference –not a profit- and who often struggle for recognition. The films are also chosen with the aim of bridging the gap between the West and the countries of the former communist block. The festival's high point is the Crystal Globe award, a 20,000 dollar prize given to the festival's best premiere feature production.

Weather

Central Europe will be affected by a tropical heat-wave over the next three days with clear skies and afternoon highs reaching 34 degs C. Doctors have issued warnings for people to increase their daily intake of fluids and for elderly people and children to avoid excessive activity in the sun between 9 am and 3pm.