News of Radio Prague

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Competition chapter closed

The Czech Republic has closed the competition chapter in EU accession talks. The Netherlands removed the last roadblock to agreement on Thursday by withdrawing its reservations to state subsidies for Czech steelworks. The Czech Republic's chief EU negotiator Pavel Telicka accepted the conditions under which the state could continue to subsidize steel companies until 2003 at the latest, among them a thorough overhaul of the steel industry, restricted production and labor productivity on par with that of EU member states. The Czech Republic has made a commitment to reduce its overall production of steel by 470,000 tons by the end of 2006. The Czech Republic has closed 26 out of 30 accession chapters to date.

Spolana rejects leak of toxins

The management of Spolana, a chemical factory north of Prague, has rejected the claim that highly toxic substances leaked into the environment when the plant was flooded last August. According to a report published by the Arnika environment group the floodwaters released an unspecified amount of highly toxic dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls into the river Elbe. Arnika said that water samples it took from the Elbe at the time were found to contain traces of these substances. Spolana acknowledged that these substances were stored at the plant, although their production was stopped many years ago, but said that they were encased in hermetically sealed, heat-resistant, waterproof containers and ruled out the possibility that they could have leaked. Arnika has asked the Czech Inspection Office to investigate the matter.

President Havel on antibiotics

President Havel who is suffering from a respiratory infection is reported to have taken a turn for the worse and doctors have prescribed antibiotics. For the time being he is undergoing medical treatment at the presidential residence in Lany, but doctors are not ruling out his admission to hospital if the infection does not recede. The President's office has cancelled all his engagements until Saturday and there are plans to restrict his schedule on Monday, when the President was scheduled to make several public appearances on the country's national holiday. October 28th marks the birth of Czechoslovakia in 1918.

Airlines captain loses job over pistol incident

Vaclav Pojer, the Czech Airlines captain who was caught carrying a weapon in his luggage as he was about to board a plane from Birmingham to Prague is no longer flying with Czech Airlines. A spokesman for the company said Mr. Pojar's contract was terminated by mutual agreement. The Czech Airlines captain faced court proceedings in Great Britain where he said in his defense that shooting was a hobby and that he had simply forgotten to take the sports pistol out of his luggage. A court of appeal later reduced the one month prison sentence to a fine. The incident has highlighted the issue of security at Prague's main international airport, through which the airlines captain passed undetected.

Weather:

Friday is expected to be cloudy to overcast with scattered showers and day temperatures between 9 and 13 degrees Celsius. The weather is expected to remain much the same over the weekend with day temperatures forecast at between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius.