News Thursday, SEPTEMBER 14th, 2000

By Libor Kubik

From Monday September 18th Radio Prague's broadcasts in English on the f101.1 FM frequency in Prague will change. Instead of our current times of 7.15am, 1.15pm and 5.30pm, we will broadcast a fifteen-minute programme at 9.45am, and our half-hour programme will move to the later time of 9.30 in the evening. You will also be able to hear our broadcasts not only in Prague but also on the BBC's FM frequencies in other Czech towns and cities.

Prague lifts sanctions against Austria

The Czech government has lifted sanctions against Austria, following the lead of European Union countries.

The Czech Republic froze high-level bilateral contacts with Vienna in February, following EU countries which decided to isolate Austria's leaders after the far-right Freedom Party joined its government.

The Freedom Party has called for a delay in EU enlargement due to fears of an influx of cheap labour and had raised other controversial issues irritating Prague.

Experts to investigate Czech nuclear plant

Austria and the Czech Republic have agreed to an expert commission from both countries investigating next week the controversial nuclear plant at Temelin.

The Temelin plant has been an issue of heated dispute between the two countries for many years. Austria is concerned about allegedly poor safety standards at the plant. But the Czech Republic has insisted that Temelin complies with modern western standards.

Temelin, which marries Soviet-era engineering to advanced American safety technologies, is situated about 50 kilometres from the Czech borders with Austria and Germany.

Czechs plan tough border checks during IMF meeting

Czech police have said they will impose strict border controls during this month's IMF and World Bank meetings to stop anyone likely to disrupt them.

Some 20,000 protesters from the Czech Republic and abroad are expected to stage demonstrations against globalisation and the policies of the two institutions during meetings scheduled in Prague for the last week of September.

The police said they would thoroughly check documents and cars at border points, and warned that the controls were likely to lead to queues at border crossings and train delays.

Various non-governmental organisations have announced over 200 public gatherings and demonstrations against the meetings. But police have said they will create a closed security zone around Prague's Congress Centre, where the meetings will be held.

Some 11,000 police officers will be on duty to keep protests under control.

Czechs advised to reconsider travelling to Britain by cars, buses

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has advised citizens to reconsider using cars and buses when travelling to the United Kingdom.

The advice was issued in the wake of serious petrol shortages in Britain due to protest campaigns against rising fuel prices.

The ministry said peaceful protests in Britain enjoyed considerable public support and the situation there wasn't likely to return back to normal within a foreseeable future.

The ministry said more than 90 percent of British petrol stations were closed on Wednesday and long queues were forming outside the few stations that remain operational.

Protests and traffic blockades against soaring fuel prices have affected also France and Belgium.

Czech petrol prices up

Petrol prices at the Czech Republic's largest chain of petrol stations, Benzina, went up 30 hellers on Wednesday to 30 crowns 90 helllers, or about 75 cents a litre. Diesel fuel went up 50 hellers to 28 crowns 40 hellers per litre.

Schroeder: No fixed timeframe for EU expansion

The German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said there is no fixed timeframe for when the Czech Republic and new members can join the European Union.

Speaking in Berlin, he said countries must focus on meeting the 15-nation bloc's entry requirements.

The European Union is holding membership talks with 10 central and eastern European countries and two Mediterranean states.

Chancellor Schroeder said the 15-member Europe would try until the end of 2002 to make itself ready to accept new members as agreed at last year's summit in Helsinki.

Germany's Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said this month he hoped the first group of new members would be able to join the EU at the beginning of 2005, if not earlier.

Czech, German automakers receive understanding award

The Czech carmaker Skoda, a member of Germany's Volkswagen Group, will receive this year's award for contributions to Czech-German understanding.

The prize will be awarded late next month to the directors of both auto-making firms in the German city of Weimar.

The award was originally designed for artists, scientists, political figures and journalists who actively strive for better understanding between Czechs and Germans.

It is awarded jointly by the Prague-based Union for Good-neighbourly Relations between Czech and German-speaking nations, and the Munich-based Adalbert Stifter Society.

Czech weather forecast

And finally, a look at the weather here in the Czech Republic.

After a cloudy start and early morning lows between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius, Thursday will be a balmy day with afternoon highs between 19 and 23 degrees.

Friday will be a cloudy day with scattered showers and thunderstorms, early morning lows between eight and 12 Celsius and maximum daytime temperatures between 20 and 24 degrees.

Saturday will be a wet day in most parts of the country. We expect the lowest night temperatures between 10 and 14 degrees, and afternoon highs between 20 and 24 Celsius.