Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.
These are the main points and now the news in more detail.
Freedom Union leader Jan Ruml will not run for a seat either in the chamber of deputies in the early elections in June or in the senate in the autumn. Ruml said this at a press conference on Tuesday, explaining that he wanted to fully devote his time to building and managing his new party.
Ruml said that among the election leaders for the Freedom Union will be the current industry and trade minister Karel Kuehnl and cabinet spokesman Vladimir Mlynar.
Jan Ruml's Freedom Union is more popular than the Civic Democratic Party from which it emerged at the beginning of the year, according to the latest poll by the Sofres Factum agency. The poll showed that the Freedom Union would gain 10.9 percent of the vote to the ODS's 9.2 percent, a record low for the party which won the last elections with over three times as many votes. The Civic Democratic Alliance is being abandoned by voters as well as members and would receive only 3.1 percent, not enough to get into parliament.
The Social Democrats would win the elections with more than 28 percent, the Christian Democrats would gain seven percent, the Communists almost nine percent and the Republicans seven percent.
EP wants Czech Romany issue to be short-term entrance priority The European Parliament has warned again that it may block the approval of EU associate members' entry, and has said that human rights criteria such as Romany integration in the Czech Republic should be moved from medium-term to short-term priorities.
The parliament's foreign committee has drawn up a resolution calling for the EP to play a bigger role in EU expansion, angry at what it says is a failure by the European Commission and the EU Council to consult it on the countries' criteria for membership. In the case of the Czech Republic the committee proposes that attempts to integrate the Romany minority and to improve the justice system should be made short-term rather than medium-term priorities.
The Civic Dmeocratic Alliance lost another three members as MP's Karel Ledvinka, Michal Prokop and Dusan Navratil left it on Tuesday. The number of ODA MP's now stands at four. Originally, there were thirteen.
Prokop said he decided to quit because the current party leaderhip was unable to clearly define their vision of the party's programme and functioning.
The ODA has been in crisis since late last year and two weeks ago, its leader and environment minister Jiri Skalicky resigned from his post. He was soon followed by people like justice minister Vlasta Parkanova, industry and trade minister Karel Kuehnl, and ODA founder Pavel Bratinka.
The EU council of ministers has started discussing retaliatory measures after the Czech Republic imposed quotas on imports of apples from EU countries. As a first step, the EU executive body has suggested revoking the advantages it provided to the Czech Republic for exports of beef and poultry.
The European Commission is insisting that the Czech Republic broke the association agreement by introducing an import quota on apples from EU member states and sees the measure as discriminatory.
NATO secretary general Javier Solana will arrive in Prague on Wednesday for talks on the Czech Republic's accession to NATO. Discussions between Solana, president Vaclav Havel and premier Josef Tosovsky will focus on fulfilling miulitary tasks connected with joining NATO.
Solana's will come to Prague after visiting Poland and Hungary, the countries which, together with the Czech Republic, have been invited to join the Alliance.
Solana also wants to explain to Czech politicians the changes in NATO's position and purpose which will be included in a new strategic concept next year.
Most Czechs dissatisfied with political situation -- poll A total of 80 percent of Czechs are dissatisfied with the political situation in the country, according to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Research Institute on Tuesday. Only one percent of those asked is very satisfied with the political situation and 11 percent of them consider it acceptable.
The Norwegian parliament on Tuesday ratified the treaty expanding NATO by the addition of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Earlier the treaty was ratified by Canada and Denmark.
And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting another cloudy but a little warmer day. Afternoon highs should range from 10 to 14 degrees Celsius. On Thursday, a cold front will be moving across central Europe, bringing more clouds and some rain. Highest daytime temperatures should not exceed 12 degrees Celsius.
And that's the end of the news.
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