News of Radio Prague

Verheugen welcomes formation of new Czech government

The European commissioner for enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, welcomed the formation of the new Czech government. Mr Verheugen said he was convinced that the new government would continue with pro-European policies. The Czech Republic plans to complete EU accession talks this year and could be admitted within the next enlargement wave in 2004.

Social Democrat leader Vladimir Spidla, who is expected to be appointed prime minister by President Vaclav Havel on Monday, said he was confident the government would achieve its main goal - that is to lead Czechs into the European Union.

Czechs warned by Austria of obstacles to EU membership

Members of the Austrian parliament discussed on Wednesday what they termed "two obstacles" to Czech membership in the European Union, meaning the controversial Temelin nuclear power station and the post-war Benes Decrees which sanctioned the dispossession and expulsion of the Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia in 1945. The Austrian parliament also issued a statement calling for further talks on the possible closing of the Temelin power station situated close to the Czech-Austrian border. Earlier this year more than 900 thousand Austrians signed a petition in favour of blocking the Czech Republic's accession to the EU unless Temelin is shut down.

Czech Crown reaches a new record high at 28.88 to euro

The Czech currency reached a new record high on Wednesday, breaking the level of 29 crowns per euro. Trading opened on Wednesday with the exchange rate of 28.88 crowns per euro and closed at 28.94 crowns per euro. Dealers say the strengthening of the crown has been caused by large purchases of crowns by clients rather than by favourable inflation figures for June. The market is speculating that at the end of July, the central bank may cut interest rates and intervene on the market to weaken the crown.

Strong crown discourages foreign tourists

The strong Czech crown has a negative impact on the number of tourists coming to the Czech Republic. But although fewer foreigners come to spend their holidays in the Czech Republic, they tend to stay longer and spend more money. According to the deputy Minister for Regional Development, Cestmir Sajda, the Czech Republic's returns from incoming tourism should reach last year's levels; that is around 3 billion US dollars. Also, the volume of outbound tourism is expected to increase owing to favourable exchange rates.

Klaus runs for Lower House chairman

The leader of the opposition Civic Democratic Party Vaclav Klaus is going to seek re-election as chairman of the Lower House of Parliament. Mr Klaus will compete with Social Democrat candidate Lubomir Zaoralek who is expected to win in the Thursday election as the ruling coalition has a 101-vote majority in the 200-seat chamber.

Social Democrats to put Zeman forward as presidential candidate

The outgoing Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, is likely to become the Social Democrats' candidate for the office of Czech President, the party's deputy leader Zdenek Skromach told journalists on Wednesday. So far the Czech ombudsman, Otakar Motejl, has been mentioned as the party's most likely presidential candidate. By the end of the year, the Social Democrats are to agree on one candidate. Presidential elections are expected to take place early next year when Vaclav Havel's second and final term in office ends.

Czech weather report

And here's a quick look at the weather forecast for Thursday, which should be much cooler than the previous few days. We'll have partially cloudy skies with the chance of thunderstorms later in the day. Daytime temperatures are expected to range from 21 to 26 degrees Celsius.