Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

15-02-2004

Spidla supports NATO mission to Iraq

The Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has spoken in favour of sending NATO troops to Iraq. In an interview with the DPA press agency before his visit to Germany on Tuesday, Mr. Spidla said a quick deployment of a large NATO contingent was desirable in order to stabilise Iraq, which is vital for Europe and the whole region. In his opinion, building a secure Iraq will take several years. Mr. Spidla is to visit Berlin this week to discuss mainly financial perspectives of enlarged EU. He stressed that Prague was willing to compromise regarding the EU constitution provided balance is maintained between small and large nations.

Property owners to appeal to Constitutional Court over regulated rents

Owners of apartment buildings have warned they would appeal to the Constitutional Court again if the Parliament approves a government-sponsored bill on rent deregulation. Under the controversial plan, which is facing the final reading in the next few days, regulated rents would be increased by 10 percent three years in a row. Critics argue that the regulation breeds black housing market, and that controlled rents do not cover maintenance costs and in fact force owners to sponsor tenants. The Constitutional Court has repeatedly ruled that rent regulation was unconstitutional but the two latest governments led by the Social Democrats have ignored the verdicts.

Attempt to restore Zeman to power fails

Supporters of former Social Democrat leader and Prime Minister Milos Zeman have failed with their attempt to bring him back to the political limelight at a Social Democrat meeting at the weekend. The party voted down a proposal from a rebel faction to re-institute Mr. Zeman to high party circles. Milos Zeman stood behind the Social Democrats' election victory in 1998 but retired from politics completely after his term in office expired in 2002. Lately, he has been a vocal critic of the ruling party's policies and has called for a change of the leadership.

Dutch PM to visit Prague

The Dutch Prime Minister Peter Balkenende is to visit Prague on Monday, just two days after his country severely restricted access to its labour market by citizens from new EU member states. He is to meet his Czech counterpart Vladimir Spidla, as well as president Vaclav Klaus and heads of both houses of the Czech Parliament. It is expected that the Czech representatives will bring up the issue of free movement of labour. Until recently, the Netherlands was one of the few EU countries that did not want to limit employment of workers from the ten accession countries. However, on Friday, the Hague government approved restrictions, including a ban on employing people from the new member states in areas with high unemployment. Elsewhere, they could be employed only if there is no suitable Dutch candidate.

Weather forecast

We are expecting a cloudy to partially cloudy day with occasional showers. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 3 to 7 degrees Celsius.

15-02-2004