News of Radio Prague

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Polls open as Ireland's 2.9 million voters decide on Treaty of Nice

Polls opened on Saturday morning in Ireland as its 2.9 million voters decide whether to accept or reject the European Union Treaty of Nice, which enables enlargement of the bloc. This is Ireland's second referendum on the treaty and the outcome of the poll will be watched closely by the 10 countries, including the Czech Republic, hoping to join the EU in 2004, as well as Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, who hope to join at a later stage. Ireland rejected the Nice Treaty in June 2001 by 54 percent in a referendum. Latest opinion polls show 42 per cent of the electorate intend to vote "yes" this time while 29 percent intend to vote "no". Ireland is the only EU member state to hold a referendum on the Treaty of Nice. National parliaments decided in the other 14 member states. The final result of the referendum is expected on Sunday evening.

Deputy minister Severa in charge of fighter jets deal

Deputy defence minister Pavel Severa has been assigned to supervise a planned new tender for the purchase of supersonic fighter aircraft for the Czech air force. The government originally wanted to buy 24 JAS-39 Gripen fighters from a British-Swedish producer, a planned deal worth about 60 billion crowns. After the mid-August disastrous floods, however, the government has been considering less expensive ways of protecting the Czech air space. Those include the purchase of a lower number of Gripens, the lease of fighter jets or the purchase of used planes. The government should make a decision by the end of the year.

Sixth Forum 2000 conference gets underway

President Vaclav Havel opened the sixth Forum 2000 conference in Prague on Friday. Over the weekend, the world's leading financiers, intellectuals, politicians and anti-globalisation activists will discuss issues concerning the increasingly globalised world economy. Over 40 participants, including representatives of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as well as academics, freedom fighters and environmentalists will focus on the role of the media, international trade and finance and the issues of ethics and responsibility in the world of multinational corporations.

Sentenced Czech pilot released in Britain

The Czech Airlines pilot, who was caught carrying a pistol aboard his plane in Britain earlier this month, was released from prison in Birmingham on Friday after a court of appeal changed his sentence from one month in prison to a fine of 1,000 pounds and a suspended sentence of six months for a two-year probationary period. Fifty-four year-old Vaclav Pojer had carried a loaded pistol in his briefcase onto the Czech Airlines plane already at Prague airport, making it through the security checkpoint. However, the weapon was found before his return flight during a check at Birmingham Airport a day later.

Florenc metro station reopened after floods

Another station of Prague's metro, severely damaged by floodwater in August, has been reopened, allowing better access to the main coach station in Prague. The reopening of Florenc metro station is expected to greatly help traffic in Prague as special buses copying the route of the closed metro line no longer have to enter the city centre. Eighteen stations of the subway system remain out of operation. Another station is expected to be reopened by the end of November.

Weather forecast

Sunday is expected to be partly cloudy with isolated showers and snow in the mountains. Daytime temperatures should range from 6 to 10 degrees Celsius.