News of Radio Prague

Havel thanks Verheugen for EU aid

President Vaclav Havel has thanked the European Union's commissioner for enlargement Guenter Verheugen for the financial aid the EU has provided to the flood-hit Czech Republic. After meeting President Havel at Prague Castle on Thursday, Mr Verheugen told journalists the European Union had offered the Czech Republic 58 million euro from the funds aimed at supporting candidate countries. The European Investment Bank has offered the country a loan of up to 200 million euro. According to first estimates the Czech Republic has suffered damage worth up to 3 billion euro.

Verheugen and Svoboda discuss new EU fund

Later on Thursday Guenter Verheugen also met the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda for talks on the Czech Republic's preparations for EU accession proposed for 2004. Stating the current EU's financial assistance as an example, Mr Svoboda said the Czech Republic would benefit from its membership in the Union. He also said the aid would have been bigger if the country were already a member. The European Union intends to establish a fund aimed at helping member states to overcome natural disasters. By the end of this year 500 million euro will be available in the fund for the flooded countries of Austria and Germany but also for the Czech Republic.

Police arrest two on charges of illegal arms trading

Police say they have arrested a man and a woman who allegedly ran an illegal weapons business that arranged the sale of tanks, rocket launchers, planes and even submarines to Middle East countries. The alleged arms traders were arrested on Tuesday after an 18-month investigation involving the Czech government's anti-corruption agency, as well as authorities in Germany and Switzerland. The Prague suspects are accused of working as middlemen from an office in the Czech capital. Since 1999, they allegedly arranged sales of millions of dollars worth of Russian and Bulgarian arms to countries for whom weapons sales are restricted by international embargoes.

German Environment Ministry finds no toxic waste from Czech Republic in Elbe

The German Environment Ministry has announced experts found no dangerous chemicals in the river Elbe which flows to Germany from the Czech Republic. Authorities in the republic of Saxony which was worst affected by the recent floods were afraid toxic chemicals could have leaked from flooded chemical plants in the Czech Republic, namely the Spolana plant north of Prague. Although the concentration of heavy metals and organic waste has increased in the river, the levels don't exceed Germany's safety norms.

Prague authorities assure foreign tourists city is safe and beautiful as ever

Prague authorities have announced the city is safe and as beautiful as ever in order to reassure foreign visitors who might be apprehensive because of the recent flood. According to the city's mayor Igor Nemec foreign media are still presenting what he termed "an apocalyptic image of Prague". The city is suffering major losses in tourism revenues as visitors are cancelling their stays. The city-hall has said the renewal of the flooded areas is progressing fast. On Wednesday Prague's 14th-century Charles Bridge reopened to the public and as of Thursday, boats will be cruising again on the river in the centre of Prague.

Weather forecast

There is fog forecast for Friday morning. The rest of the day should be partially cloudy with possible showers or thunderstorms towards the evening. Temperatures in the daytime will range between 23 and 28 degrees Celsius.