Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

18-12-2002

Pithart and Bures: official presidential candidates

Senate chairman Petr Pithart, of the Christian Democrats, and former justice minister Jaroslav Bures supported by the Social Democrats have been officially nominated as candidates in the Czech Republic's upcoming presidential elections. Mr Pithart and Mr Bures join two other candidates nominated earlier, former prime minister Vaclav Klaus, supported by his party, the right-of-centre ODS, and former military prosecutor Miroslav Krizenecky, put forward by the Communists. The first round of presidential elections will take place in January when both houses of parliament will vote in a joint-session, allowing for a maximum of three rounds to decide a successor. The country's current president, playwright and former dissident Vaclav Havel, will step down in February, after having held office for more than 12 years.

Austrian emergency crews unable to resume search for missing Czech climber

A rescue mission for a 27-year-old Czech climber missing since Monday after being buried by an avalanche at Grossglockner in south-west Austria, has not been resumed. The search was called off mid-Tuesday because of the continuing avalanche warnings, compounded with the difficulty of navigating hidden crevices in the glacier. Rescue crews were still able to scout part of the area with specially-trained dogs but without result. The avalanche took place on Monday just before 9 p.m. at 3000 metres above sea-level. It swept three Czech climbers in all, two of whom were found early on Tuesday, suffering from hypothermia. According to Austrian rescue crews there is now no chance the final climber might still be alive.

ODS criticises terms negotiated for Czech Republic's accession to EU

The right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party, the ODS, has criticised the terms for the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union, negotiated at the EU summit in Copenhagen last week. The summit saw the Czech Republic, along with nine other candidate countries invited to join the European Union in May 2004. On Wednesday ODS deputy chairman Jan Zahradil proposed the Lower House pass a resolution calling the results of the negotiations "unsatisfactory". He called the EU's terms worse than in previous expansion, and added the EU was poorly prepared for expansion in general. During the debate on the issue, the Freedom Union's Pavel Svoboda, the head of the Chamber of Deputies' European integration committee, countered Mr Zahradil by saying it was "a petty debate", adding that the Czech Republic would have missed an historic chance if it hadn't come to an agreement now. Mr Svoboda called on the Lower House to pass a resolution saying EU accession talks had been a success. In the end the Civic Democrats' proposal was voted down, while the government's assessment passed.

Czech Foreign Minister: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to get new site

The Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has stated that it is likely a new site shall be built to house the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in the Czech Republic. Speaking to the Czech news agency CTK on Wednesday Mr Svoboda did not reveal possible locations but did say the cost of construction of a new site would not be covered by Czechs. So far, the station's spokeswoman Sonia Winter has not commented the situation. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has been in negotiation with the Czech government about moving the station ever since the September 11th terrorist attacks on the US last year; and has been under armed guard ever since to prevent the likeliness of a terrorist strike. The station's present location is situated above a key metro hub in the centre of Prague. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said he believed the question of moving the station would be solved during the first quarter of 2003.

Czech Republic possible site for NATO centre against weapons of mass destruction

According to Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik the Czech Republic has a good chance of becoming the home of a site for a special NATO centre aimed at countering weapons of mass destruction. Minister Tvrdik told reporters on Wednesday that talks were currently underway and revealed that the idea of creating the site in the Czech Republic had the support of NATO's secretary general, as well as the US, and several NATO countries. Mr Tvrdik said as soon as the proposal was completed it would be presented to the Czech government and parliament. NATO is currently lacking a centre that would develop strategies of defence against weapons of mass destruction, including biological, chemical, and even atomic warfare. At the same time, Czech expertise against biological and chemical weapons is highly valued in missions abroad.

Prague court sentences club owner to 18 years for murder of his wife

A Prague court has sentenced Ivan Jonak, the owner of a Prague erotic night-club and disco to 18 years in prison for arranging the murder of his wife. The murder, which took place in 1994 in broad daylight at a Prague market where Jonak's wife worked, is notoriously well-known. The gunman Jonak hired is currently serving a fourteen year sentence. Meanwhile, the court Wednesday found Jonak guilty of planning of an additional murder, of his wife's lover, that was never realised.

Weather

Thursday will see partly clear skies with a chance of flurries. Daytime temperatures should reach highs between -1 and -5 degrees Celsius.

18-12-2002