Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

09-06-2003

President calls on Czechs to take part in EU referendum

President Vaclav Klaus has called on Czech citizens to take part in the upcoming referendum on the Czech Republic's EU accession. Speaking on Czech Radio on Monday afternoon, President Klaus called the referendum a historically unrepeatable moment. Mr Klaus did not suggest how people should vote but he said he believed Czechs would follow their own reason and decide cautiously.

Svoboda: Czech Republic is not Euro-sceptic country

Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has denied statements calling the Czech Republic a Euro-sceptic country. Speaking after Monday's meeting with his Slovak counterpart Eduard Kukan in Bratislava, Minister Svoboda said he hoped Czechs would confirm that in the upcoming referendum. Mr Svoboda also denied accusations that the Foreign Ministry's information campaign ahead of the referendum was a failure. The Czech and Slovak foreign ministers agreed that the cooperation of the four Visegrad countries, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, should continue after EU accession.

Klaus appoints Kostelka as new defence minister

President Vaclav Klaus appointed Miroslav Kostelka as new Czech defence minister on Monday. Mr Kostelka is replacing Jaroslav Tvrdik who stepped down ten days ago in protest at planned cuts in defence spending. A former Czech Army general and until now deputy defence minister, Mr Kostelka is expected to redraft the reform of the Czech military.

Kostelka wants to abolish national service by end 2006

Speaking at his first news conference on Monday, Mr Kostelka told reporters that the new draft of the Czech military reform still included the abolition of national service. Mr Kostelka said he would like to abolish compulsory military service by the end of 2006.

Former Czech communist official sentenced for aiding Soviets

A Czech court sentenced a former senior communist official on Monday to four years in prison for assisting the crushing of the 1968 Prague Spring reform movement by Soviet-led troops. The 78-year old Karel Hoffman was convicted for ordering Czechoslovak Radio to stop broadcasting during the invasion. Mr Hoffmann was found guilty of abuse of office - not treason, as the council of prosecution had demanded. The Union of Former Political Prisoners has welcomed the verdict, which they say is a symbolic condemnation of the wrongdoings of the Czechoslovak Communist Party.

Weather

Tuesday is going to be a hot and muggy day, with daytime temperatures soaring to 30 degrees Celsius.

09-06-2003