News Friday, JANUARY 14th, 2000

Hello and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik and we begin as usual with the news. First the headlines.


Leaders of two principal Czech parties -- the ruling Social Democrats and the senior opposition Civic Democrats -- will meet later in the day in an attempt to redefine their power-sharing pact known as the "Opposition Agreement".

Our correspondent says the Civic Democrats are likely to seek a sweeping government reshuffle in exchange for giving support to the minority cabinet's budget drafts for the year 2000.

Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus has recently criticised Prime Minister Milos Zeman's style of government as grossly disappointing.


Signatories of a recent appeal for discredited politicians to relinquish their posts are meeting in Pardubice east of Prague later in the day in an effort to form a new political party.

The so-called Citizens' Democratic Initiative was inspired by the "Thank You Now Leave" petition, launched late last year by a group of former student leaders of Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution 10 years ago.

An opinion poll has shown that this new party would have the support of over 20 percent of the electorate.


The prison mutiny, which affected more than half of the Czech prisons this week, is over. Only inmates in the maximum-security Valdice Prison were still stepping up their demands on Thursday.

But the Czech Prison Authority in Prague said that no disturbances were reported after 4 p.m. on Thursday.

Earlier this week, inmates protesting against a tough new legislation making the conditions of imprisonment more severe staged hunger strikes in most prisons and refused to work in their units.

According to Prison Authority Chief Kamila Meclova, the situation could fully stabilise by the end of the week.

Speaking after a meeting with the parliamentary defence and security committee, she said she had asked parliament to allot one billion crowns' worth of investment into the prison service. But our correspondent says the parliament's response was lukewarm.


The shadow Czech foreign minister maintains that last year's NATO military operation against Slobodan Milosevic's rump Yugoslavia was a failure.

Jan Zahradil, a member of the chief opposition Civic Democratic Party, has said that the Allies had failed to reach their political objectives and they might never succeed in doing so.

He said the aim of the Allied bombing raids was to have been a stable Kosovo and the removal of Milosevic. But in actual fact, the Serbian strongman had strengthened his role and Kosovo remained totally destabilised, with the province's main centres completely subdued to Albanian armed gangs.


Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan says his country wants to have a say on NATO operations the alliance as a whole does not take part in.

Kavan and his British counterpart, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, met in London on Thursday to discuss European integration, security and bilateral relations. Cook supported the Czech request but said he wanted to know also the views of Hungary and Poland.

Our correspondent says the two men briefly discussed also the problem of ethnic Roma asylum seekers.

The British Home Office said on Thursday that data about the number of Czech Roma asylum seekers in Britain will be released at the end of the month. It said it was premature to speculate whether those numbers went up in December.


In an historic meeting, their first in nine years, Lower House Speaker Vaclav Klaus and Trades- Union leader Richard Falbr agreed on Thursday that stemming unemployment and settling a number of trades-union-related issues is impossible without stimulating economic growth.

Klaus said he had always triedto put things into a wider political and economic context. But he said Czechs often lose this aspect which makes it all the more difficult to find solutions.

Labour leader Falbr had words of praise for his long-time rival, saying his unions had always respected Mr. Klaus as an opponent. Falbr described Klaus as a man of few words who is always sincere and whose statements match his actions.


The Czech nonprofit foundation People in Need has dispatched its first road convoy this year carrying relief aid to Chechen refugees.

The foundation's Chechnya-Ingushetia aid coordinators said on Thursday the haul, containing flour, sugar and pasta was headed for the villages of Asinovskaya and Sernovodsk, where up to 20,000 refugees have not been accorded any help since their exodus from the war-torn Chechnya began in the autumn.


The Czech Senate has returned to the house its draft law on the press with several suggested elements.

At issue is the list of organisations which would be entitled to receive compulsory copies of daily newspapers.


The Czech automaker Skoda has announced entering India's automobile market. It said the plan was initially to sell 3,000 Octavia sedans this year.

Skoda Auto spokesman Detlef Witting on Thursday told journalists at the Auto Expo 2000 car show in Delhi that Skoda cars would also be completed at a new plant in Mahastra in the state of Aurangabad.


Czech and Ukrainian police have broken up a women-smuggling ring which forced Ukrainian women into prostitution in Central Europe.

The police on Thursday raided a restaurant in the West Bohemian spa of Frantiskovy Lazne and arrested a band of traffickers.

They also set free four Ukrainian women and arrested the owner of the restaurant.


And we and as usual with a brief weather report.

After a clear night and early morning lows between four and eight degrees below freezing, we are facing a rather chilly Friday with daytime temperatures between zero and minus four Celsius.

The weekend will usher a high-pressure area into Central Europe, along with fogs and cloudy skies. Snow showers are expected on Sunday. Nighttime lows between four and eight Celsius below zero, daytime highs minus four to zero Celsius.

I am Libor Kubik and that’s the end of the news.