News of Radio Prague

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Czech PM asks EU for "fair treatment"

The Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, who is on a working visit to Denmark has asked the country, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, for fair treatment. During talks with his Danish counterpart , Prime Minister Anders Rasmussen, Mr. Spidla said that the enormous flood damage which his country sustained would not delay it on the road to EU accession – but that unfair treatment might. "We will strive for early accession, but not at any price" the Czech Prime Minister told Danish members of Parliament. As accession talks progress, the Czech coalition government is under growing pressure from the opposition to defend Czech national interests, especially in the sphere of agriculture. The government likewise fears that if Czechs are not convinced they will be treated "on equal terms" with other EU member states, the Czech referendum on EU membership could produce a negative result.

Central Bank intervenes against strong crown

The Czech National Bank intervened against the strong crown on Monday, after it dropped below the 30-crown-per-Euro mark for the first time in six weeks. The crown weakened slightly as a result of the intervention to 30.25 per Euro, before climbing back up to 29.96. The crown reached a record high in July of this year selling for 28.85 per Euro, an exchange rate that pleased tourists but was highly disadvantageous for Czech producers. The recent devastating floods weakened the crown temporarily sending it to 31.45 crowns per Euro, but it quickly recovered and returned to its former level.

Czechs accept higher tax burden

A broad public opinion survey shows that the vast majority of Czechs have accepted the government's decision to increase taxes as a means of covering the cost of the recent floods. Jaroslav Huk of the STEM research agency, which conducted a lightning opinion survey on the matter, said that the majority of respondents accepted the additional tax burden as inevitable . Three quarters of Czechs allegedly approve of the government's decision to introduce higher taxes for the rich over a period of three years and to increase consumer tax on alcohol and tobacco, among others. Huk said that for the present time the government was riding on a wave of solidarity, and the majority of Czechs gave it high marks for performance during and after the floods.

National Security Council meeting

The National Security Council is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to discuss, among other things, preparations for the upcoming NATO summit in Prague. The National Security Council meeting, which takes place a day before the September 11th anniversary, is to be attended by President Havel and the speakers of both houses of Parliament. The November NATO summit in Prague will be the first ever to take place in a former communist country and presents a major security challenge for the Czech authorities.

British immigration officials back at Ruzyne Airport

British immigration officials are back at Prague's Ruzyne Airport for another round of controls aimed at preventing economic migrants from entering Great Britain. Their presence at Prague's main international airport is part of a bilateral agreement between the Czech Republic and Great Britain, who both want to avoid the re-introduction of a visa regime. The arrangement was concluded in the wake of a mass exodus of Czech Romanies to Great Britain, many of whom have since been extradited from the country. Last Friday the British authorities put 20 Romany families on a flight back to Prague after refusing them asylum. Three of them were wanted by the Czech police and were arrested at Prague Airport. Human rights activists have criticized the arrangement and the Romanies who have undergone the immigration screening process claim that it is "racist". During the last round of immigration screenings, which ended two weeks ago, British immigration officials turned back 78 people.

Weather

A cold front moving across Europe should make itself felt in the course of Tuesday bringing overcast skies, rain and a significant drop in day temperatures. Tuesday's afternoon highs have been forecast at between 19 and 23 degs C in the western part of the country, Moravia is expected to enjoy a few more hours of sunshine with temps between 22 and 26 deg C. Temperatures are expected to drop further in the course of the week.