News Friday, FEBRUARY 04th, 2000

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I’m Pauline Newman and first we start with a look at the main headlines of the day:

You are tuned to Radio Prague, those were the headlines, now let’s take a look at the news in more detail:

CR to take action if Austrian government adopts Haider’s attitude.

The Czech Foreign Ministry released a statement on Thursday, saying that if Joerg Haider’s attitudes and views are adopted by the new Austrian government, Prague will take action. This comes after the Freedom Party, led by Haider, who often makes remarks appearing sympathetic to Nazis, formed a new coalition government on Tuesday with conservative leader Wolfgang Schuessel.

Austria’s European Union allies have also said that they intend to impose a threatened freeze on bilateral political relations with Vienna. The Czech Foreign Ministry added on Thursday that although it agrees with the stance adopted by the European Union, it would like to see current solid ties with Austria maintained.

Reaction to Visas requirement

Russia launched a scathing attack on the Czech government on Thursday for having decided earlier in the week to impose visa requirements for visiting Russians. A visa requirement was also imposed on Belarus and the Ukraine. Moscow said the move would harm trade, cultural and humanitarian ties between Russia and the Czech Republic. The Russian Foreign ministry said that it regrets Prague’s decision, which it believes violated a 1994 agreement allowing travel between the countries without visas. Belarus in the meantime has said that it intends to take measures against Prague for imposing a visa restriction and the Ukraine has refused to comment on the move, saying it has as yet not worked out an official stance.

Klaus to testify in Novak case

Vaclav Klaus leader of the largest right wing opposition Party, the Civic democrats, confirmed on Thursday that he has received a summons to court. Klaus will be testifying in the case of former deputy Chairman Libor Novak, who is facing charges of tax evasion and a subsequent jail sentence of 12 years. Investigators who brought charges against Novak, claim that in 1995, he filled in the party’s tax returns on the basis that there were more than just the two financial donations made by sponsors. There is in fact speculation that another four sponsors whose names Novak put forward on paper, do not actually exist. The hearing, is set to start on 17th April in Prague. Along with Vaclav Klaus other current and former members of the party will be questioned.

MP’s advised to approve budget

The Petition Committee of the lower house of the Czech Parliament advised the Chamber of deputies on Thursday to approve the budget for this year. This took place in spite of resistance from the main opposition party the Civic Democrats, which wants to see expenditure cut by 20 million crowns. A government official later explained, that bringing Czech laws and institutions into line with those of the European Union is the reason for increased expenditure. Right wing opposition parties have been criticizing the budget for several months. The Civic Democrats recently finally agreed to lend their support to the budget in return for concessions from the ruling Social democrats in the form of a cabinet reshuffle.

Havel improving, PM Zeman under the weather

Doctors say Czech President Vaclav Havel, who is in hospital with ‘flu, is improving slightly. His spokesman told journalists on Thursday that the President is to stay at the military hospital in Prague till at least the end of the week. Havel was admitted to hospital earlier in the week, because his doctors feared complications after lung cancer surgery in 1996. They have warned Havel that even a cold could be fatal if not treated in time. In the meantime, Prime Minister Milos Zeman has cancelled his appointments for the rest of the week, because he is also feeling unwell. On Thursday, he was set to meet with trade union representatives and speak on Czech radio. Zeman’s deputy Jan Kavan will be stepping in for him until he returns to work.

Grulich grilled on Czech - German border security

Czech Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich met with German Justice Minister Herta Daubler-Gmelin on Thursday in Prague. According to a spokesman, Mrs Daubler Gmelin was mainly interested in steps the Czech government is planning to take to secure the Czech - German border. Vaclav Grulich discussed the introduction of visas for Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus. The two ministers also debated the possibility of a joint team of experts to deal with the problem of illegal migration across the border.

Czech customs turn away camels

Finally, customs officials in Belarus have been sheltering four camels at the border town of Brest for the last three weeks after they were abandoned by their Russian driver. The camels, were being transported from Kazakhstan to the Czech republic after Czech officials denied them entry saying documents were incomplete! A report says the animals are to be sent to a local zoo within the next few days.

And we end as usual with a brief look at the weather:

Skies on Friday will be cloudy and overcast with the possibility of rain and snow in hilly areas. Temperatures during the day will range from 2 to 5 degrees Celsius, dropping overnight to as low as minus 6.

I’m Pauline Newman and that’s the end of the news.