News of Radio Prague

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Third case of BSE in the Czech Republic

The Czech Veterinary Office has confirmed a third case of BSE in the Czech Republic. The Deblin farm in Moravia, where the animal came from, says it is putting down thirteen other animals and taking all the prescribed safety measures. Josef Duben of the Czech Veterinary Office told the CTK press agency that although every new incidence of BSE was a serious matter, three positive cases in over 250,000 tested animals did not present cause for undue concern. "The public may rest assured that the meat in Czech stores is safe" Duben said. The first case of BSE in the Czech Republic was reported in June of 2001. It resulted in tightened regulations regarding animal breeding, cattle-feed, and the sale and import of meat and meat products.

Prague welcomes Benes decrees report

The Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has welcomed the outcome of an EU-commissioned report according to which the controversial Benes decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of 2.5 million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after WWII, do not pose an obstacle to Prague's bid to join the European Union. The European Parliament commissioned the study after Austrian and German politicians demanded that Prague revoke the Benes decrees since they were incompatible with EU laws. Speaking to journalists in Brussels, the Czech Foreign Minister said he hoped that this clear legal stand would remove all lingering doubts and prevent further disputes on the matter.

Joint military exercise in Kuwait

Czech, American and German troops are carrying out a military exercise in Kuwait to prepare for a biological or chemical attack. The operation Combined Joint Task Force Consequence Management is to last for 48 hours and is taking place some 30 km west of Kuwait City. The Kuwaiti Interior Ministry said the goal of the exercise was to provide prompt assistance to Kuwait in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack. The Czech Republic sent its chemical defense unit to Kuwait in March of this year.

Prime Minister to visit Afghanistan

The Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla will visit Afghanistan on Thursday where he will meet government leaders and visit the International Security Assistance Force. According to the Czech government office, Mr. Spidla is to meet President Hamid Karzai and Defense Minister Mohammad Fahim in Kabul before visiting Czech soldiers who are serving in the ISAF peacekeeping force based in the capital Kabul.

Svoboda EU talks

At an intergovernmental EU conference in Brussels on Tuesday the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda presented his country's stand on the five remaining chapters of the EU accession process. According to Mr. Svoboda Prague is still hoping to negotiate a better deal on agriculture where the proposed production quotas are far below the sector's current needs. The Czech government has given the EU negotiating team a clear mandate and fall-back positions that are regarded as a minimum for the Czech agricultural sector to be able to survive competition on EU markets. The 12 EU candidates present at the meeting all expect a positive evaluation of their membership bids in the EU's annual progress report due on October 9th.

Flood damage estimates

Overall damage to the Czech capital Prague, caused by the devastating floods that ravaged the country and killed 17 people, has been estimated at 24 billion crowns. Prague city hall spokesman Martin Kupka said 11 billion of the total was needed to cover damage to city assets, including the subway system, while the rest pertained to private and commercial assets. The damage costs outside of Prague have been estimated at around 42 billion crowns. The Czech Republic's coalition government is still debating ways of paying for the damage. A proposed tax package failed to win approval in Parliament last month and the governing coalition has so far ruled out issuing bonds.

Police arrest hoax caller

Police in Brno say they have arrested a man who made hoax bomb threats after losing his job. Since the beginning of this year the man allegedly made eight hoax threats, calling the police emergency line to say he'd planted a bomb in his former workplace as well as a number of banks and companies his firm did business with. The twenty-seven-year old has been charged with scare mongering and, if found guilty, could face up to five years in jail.

Weather

Wednesday is expected to bring clear to partly cloudy skies with afternoon highs between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius. The weather should remain without significant change over the next 48 hours.