A number of politicians involved in talks to put together a new Czech coalition government have said that President Vaclav Havel is likely to name the Social Democrat chief, Vladimir Spidla as the new Czech Prime Minister on Tuesday. The President's spokesman confirmed that this was a possibility. The head of the Christian Democrats, another of the parties involved in coalition talks, Cyril Svoboda, said that a final list of cabinet members should be ready within hours.
Despite traditional bad weather with heavy rain, there has been a party atmosphere over the weekend at the Karlovy Vary international film festival, with concerts and parties alongside a marathon of film screenings. As part of the section devoted to films from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, filmmakers from the region discussed the problems they currently face, in particular difficulties with raising money. Film critic Gergana Dakovska said that only four full-length feature films are made in her native Bulgaria each year. But the young Russian director, Sergej Potemkin was optimistic, saying that support for films in Russia, including film debuts, has increased. Over the weekend, visitors to the festival also had the chance to meet the most famous contemporary Korean director, Kim Ki-Duk, seven of whose films are being shown in Karlovy Vary. We'll be bringing you reports from the festival throughout the week.
Austrian opponents to the Temelin nuclear power plant have said that the
latest problems with plant's second reactor are further evidence of its
flawed design. Plans to integrate the reactor into the Czech national grid
had to be postponed on Friday. A spokesman for the plant, which combines
Soviet and American technologies and is close to the Austria border, said
that the delay was caused by a short circuit in the generator and it would
take several days to establish the precise cause.
And in a connected story, local Austrian politicians, mayors and environmental activists met over the weekend in the border village of Mardetschlag. They said that they wanted to renew dialogue with their counterparts on the Czech side of the border over the future of Temelin. They agreed that it was counterproductive to reduce cooperation between communities and schools on both sides of the border because of the row over the nuclear plant. The meeting was also attended by the mayors of three Czech villages.
Heads of government from ten countries aspiring to join NATO have expressed
confidence that up to seven of them will be invited to join the alliance at
the November NATO summit in Prague. The Estonian Prime Minister, Siim
Kallas, told a meeting in the Latvian capital Riga that he could not see any
The Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, told the Riga meeting that he favoured closer cooperation between countries set to join NATO and the European Union and those left out, in order to prevent a "velvet curtain" dividing Europe. He suggested that the Vilnius Group of ten NATO hopefuls merge with the Visegrad Group, made up of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and has since been a strong advocate of further expansion.
The English actor Michael York has been one of the main stars so far at the Karlovy Vary international film festival, now in its third day. He is there for a retrospective to present his most famous film, "Cabaret" from 1972. On Friday, the successful young Czech director Petr Zelenka has also been in Karlovy Vary to talk about his latest film "Rok dabla" - the year of the devil - which is one of two Czech films in the competition section. During the weekend, festival visitors will also have the chance to meet directors and actors from several other films in the competition section, from as far afield as Mexico, Spain and Latvia. Radio Prague will be bringing you the latest festival news in our broadcasts and on our website throughout next week.
Plans to integrate the second reactor of the Temelin nuclear power plant into the national grid have been postponed indefinitely. A spokesman said that the delay was caused by a short circuit in the generator and it would take several days to establish the precise cause. Initially the reactor was to have been put on line immediately after this week's tests. The plant's first reactor continues to work at a hundred percent capacity. Temelin combines Soviet and American technologies, and critics have claimed that it is unsafe.
The leadership of the Freedom Union has been discussing the pace of lowering the state budget deficit, that formed part of coalition talks with the Social Democrats on Wednesday. The slower pace put through by the Social Democrats led the Freedom Union leader, Hana Marvanova, to step down from her post on Thursday. However, Mrs. Marvanova said that although she did not agree with the new cabinet's financial policy, she would give it her full support because of its pro-European orientation.
Social Democrat leader Vladimir Spidla has said that the new cabinet will have 17 ministers, but an 18th ministerial post could be created for a minister for European matters. There will be yet another new ministry - the ministry of information technology. The two centre-right parties, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union should occupy six seats in the new cabinet, but no concrete names have yet been mentioned. President Vaclav Havel expects the new cabinet be appointed on July 15th, and Vladimir Spidla said he would do his best not to disappoint Mr. Havel's expectations.
The Czech Republic has been commemorating the saint's day of Cyril and Methodius, two Christian missionaries who came from the Greek city of Thessaloniki in the 9th century and brought the Christian faith to the country as well as the Cyrillic alphabet, still used by several Slavonic languages. St. Cyril and Methodius Day reminds people of the spiritual legacy of the Christian faith in Czech history, and the two Byzantine brothers are considered by Christian churches around the world as exemplary missionaries. Friday's holiday, remembered in many places around the Czech Republic, culminated in the Moravian pilgrimage town of Velehrad, where several masses for thousands of believers were served by Czech and Moravian bishops.
Following a meeting of the Social Democratic party's leadership in Prague on Friday, party leader Vladimir Spidla has announced that Social Democrat Lubomir Zaoralek is likely to become new Chairman of the lower house of the Czech parliament. In the previous parliament, Mr. Zaoralek held the post of chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr. Spidla also informed journalists that early next week consultations on the composition of a new cabinet should be finished. It remains to be seen if the Social Democrats will agree to the candidates put forward by the centre-right Freedom Union and the Christian Democrats. The three parties have conducting coalition talks on forming a new cabinet and on Wednesday they signed a coalition agreement.
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