News Friday, JULY 21st, 2000

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USA and Britain braced for war with the USSR in 1968

Information has just been released that after the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the USA and Great Britain discussed preparations for war with the Soviet Union. The information, contained in a letter from Britain’s Commonwealth and Foreign Office to its embassy in Washington in March 1969, describes plans to counter a Soviet invasion of Austria, and Yugoslavia in the wake of the crushing of the Prague Spring by the armies of the Warsaw Pact. The allies apparently feared that not reacting to an invasion would lead to the break-up of NATO.

German Catholic Church used forced labourers

The German Catholic Church has admitted that during WWII it made use of forced labourers from Central and Eastern Europe. According to a spokesman for the German Bishop’s Conference, records have been discovered that indicate that the church did indeed make use of forced labourers, Czechs among them, and will decide in August whether it will contribute to the compensation fund for forced labourers.

Gregr: record foreign investment for the year 2000

Trade and Industry Minister Miroslav Gregr has claimed that direct foreign investment in the Czech republic for the year 2000 will reach a record level of 6 billion dollars, and could be even higher. According to Mr. Gregr, the Czech Republic has become a highly trustworthy country for foreign investors, with transparent conditions guaranteed by law and with benefits comparable with the Czech Republic’s Central European neighbours.

Jewish community believes agreement is being ignored

According to the Prague Jewish community, Ceska Pojistovna, or the Czech Insurance Company, is not keeping to an agreement on the preservation of the remains a medieval Jewish cemetery that are located on the site of the insurance company’s future headquarters. As part of the agreement, which was concluded following the intervention of the Czech government in March, the Jewish community was meant to be able to supervise work on the construction site. The community now says that the insurance company is not upholding the agreement, as it has been carrying out work for two months without the agreed supervision. The insurance company has apparently told the Jewish community that it is not able to comply with the agreement, and according to the community’s chairman, Jiri Danicek, the insurance company seems to have no interest in the agreement.

Agriculture Ministry to compensate farmers

The Ministry of Agriculture will provide five billion Czech Crowns, or roughly one hundred and thirty million dollars in compensation to Czech farmers whose crops were affected by the drought in the spring this year. The government has granted permission to the ministry to provide unconditional compensation, but the final amount may change, as Agriculture Minister Jan Fencl will have to provide the government with a full list of damages caused by the end of October. The damages caused by the drought this spring have so far been estimated at almost eleven billion Czech Crowns.

Italy backs Czech membership in the EU

According to the Italian Minister of Defence, Sergio Mattarella, Italy supports the accession of the Czech Republic in the near future. The minister’s statement came after he met with his Czech counterpart, Vladimir Vetchy. The two ministers agreed that any future European military forces should be linked as closely as possible to NATO. Italy has for a long time been calling for the European Union to include those countries who are NATO members in the process of building up a united European military force. According to Mr. Matarella, the Czech Republic’s main priority at the moment is for Slovakia to join NATO as quickly as possible.

Czech GDP falls to five-year low against the EU

The Czech Gross Domestic Product per capita has to fallen to its lowest level in comparison with the EU member states since 1995. The average GDP per Czech now stands at fifty nine percent of the average GDP in the EU. This has been caused in part by the Czech Republic’s drop in GDP for 1999, and the overall drop of the thirteen states seeking EU membership, while the GDP in the EU member states grew by more than two percent. Unlike the Czech Republic, the other lead candidate states all showed a slight increase in GDP per capita.

Police arrest the head of an international heroine gang

The police and customs officers have arrested the head an international heroine smuggling gang in Prague. The man, who has not been named was arrested on Wednesday morning, and if convicted of drug smuggling, he could face up to fifteen years in prison. The gang apparently traded with heroine along what is known as the Balkan Route, and sold the drug in the Czech Republic, Germany and Scandinavia.

And finally the weather forecast.

The weather will continue fairly bleak on Friday, with a cold from coming in from the north-west. The day should see overcast skies, with rain showers in places. Temperatures during the day should reach between fifteen and nineteen degrees. Temperatures during the night should be between seven and eleven degrees. The weather promises to be much the same over the weekend, but with slightly higher temperatures. I’m Nick Carey, and that’s the end of the news.