News Wednesday, AUGUST 23rd, 2000

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik, and we start the program with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines:

Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail.

Czech nuclear safety board puzzled by German remarks

The Czech Nuclear Safety Office says it was surprised to hear a German official urge Prague to call off a planned nuclear power project.

Germany's Environment Minister Juergen Trittin said on Tuesday that a study had revealed numerous safety risks at the Temelin plant in South Bohemia, which is due to go into operation shortly.

However, the Czech Foreign Ministry later said it was not the German government as such, who had sent the note.

Czech power utility company CEZ gained approval from the Prague government last month to begin loading nuclear fuel into the Temelin plant. The launching of Temelin has been opposed by environmentalists in the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany.

PM to testify in defamation probe

The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman is to testify before police investigators over an attempt by one of his aides to publicly discredit a former deputy chairwoman of his ruling Social Democratic Party.

Mrs. Petra Buzkova has filed suit in connection with a defamation campaign against her, reportedly hatched up by one of Mr. Zeman's closest aides. Mr. Zeman alleged on Tuesday that the man behind Operation Lead, as the case is known, was his adviser Zdenek Sarapatka.

The investigation thus par has proved that documents gathered in order to smear Buzkova contain fabricated facts.

Macedonia thanks for Czech firefighing chopper

The Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has thanked the Czech Republic for despatching a fire-fighting helicopter to help put out forest fires raging in an area about 50 kilometres from an international airport near the capital Skopje.

Reports from Macedonia say the helicopter, which can eject up to 800 litres of water on every mission, has been operating since Monday over a hilly, hard-to-access terrain, where classic firefighting methods cannot be used.

Massive forest fires have been burning out of control all summer long, caused mainly by record-high temperatures and drought.

Havel sends condolences to Putin over nuke sub disaster

The Czech President, Vaclav Havel, has sent condolences to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and the relatives of those who died on board the Kursk nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea.

In his telegram, Mr. Havel expressed his deepest condolences at the terrible loss that Russia had suffered, and offered his heartfelt sympathy to the families stricken by this tragic incident.

Austria's Haider renews calls for abolition of post-war decrees

Austria's far-right Joerg Haider, governor of that country's Carinthia Province, has renewed his demands for the Czech Republic and Slovenia to declare null and void the decrees which led to the expulsion of ethnic Germans from both states after World War Two.

The Czech Republic -- a successor state of Czechoslovakia and Slovenia, a former Yugoslav republic, are both vying for early admission to the European Union.

The Czech government has repeatedly said that the decrees, though long considered void, are still part and parcel of this country's legislation.

Govt plans redefining the role of central bank

When the all-Social Democrat Czech government meets on Wednesday, it says it will want to discuss constitutional amendments which would relieve the central bank of its duty to take care for the stability of the national currency.

Finance Ministry spokesman Libor Vacek says the aim is to remove a conflict between the Constitution and the law concerning the National Bank.

Czech weather

Talking about the weather, here's a brief forecast.

Wednesday will be a calm day although local thunderstorms are not entirely ruled out. After nighttime lows of 10 to 14 degrees Celsius, we are expecting daytime temperatures to reach between 22 and 26 degrees.

Thursday will be a fair day with nighttime lows around 10 Celsius and quite balmy in the afternoon -- between 22 and 26 degrees, dropping to between 20 and 24 degrees on Friday.

I'm Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.