News Friday, MARCH 19th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail, read by Libor Kubik.


Czech President Vaclav Havel says his country's files on the Holocaust are open for the international commission investigating insurance claims by World War Two victims.

The commission's chairman, former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, has visited Prague on his mission. Havel's spokesman Ladislav Spacek said on Thursday that Eagleburger had praised the work of the Czech Holocaust commission, established one year ago.

Late last year, an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bobby Brown, stirred a major controversy when he alleged that Czech authorities denied outside access to documents pertaining to the extermination of Jews during World War Two.


A senior Brussels official said on Thursday that the resignation of the European Union's executive body earlier this week would not delay accession talks with countries seeking EU membership.

European Social Affairs Commissioner Padraig Flynn said in Warsaw that the resignation of his 20-member European Commission was also unlikely to derail approval of the Agenda 2000 package of internal reforms at the Berlin summit next week.

Our correspondent says that the approval of EU reforms is seen as essential for the success of enlargement talks with the Czech Republic and four other east and central European countries as well as Cyprus.


The Czech Republic and Denmark said on Thursday that NATO should stay open to a further enlargement and should be prepared to take military action even outside its territory without having to obtain a clearance from the U.N. Security Council.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, who was visiting Denmark, had a meeting in Copenhagen with Danish Defence Minister Hans Haekkerup.

Kavan's spokesman Ales Pospisil said afterwards that Denmark remained firmly committed to the admission of the Baltic states despite Russia's fierce opposition.

The Czech minister said his country, which one week ago became a fully fledged member of NATO, was in the process of changing its legislation so as to allow for despatching troops abroad without having to seek approval from its parliament.


Also Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has strongly advocated NATO's and the EU's further extension. He said on a visit to Bulgaria that this was in the best interest of his country.

Zeman on Thursday met Bulgarian parliament speaker Iordan Sokolov and the country's president Petar Stoyanov.


Here in Prague, the visiting Chilean President Eduardo Frei stressed the need to thoroughly cleanse state and government institutions of people implicated with former totalitarian regimes.

The Chilean president on Thursday took a lively interest in the Czech legislation that requires mandatory screening of state officials. This law is often being seen as controversial and discriminatory.


The far-right Czech Republican Party said on Thursday it was so outraged by NATO's threat to take action against Serbian forces in Kosovo it was rallying volunteers to act as human shields to protect the Serbs.

The Republicans, who have no seats in parliament, said they would make a formal offer to the Yugoslav embassy in Prague to send in the volunteers.


The crisis in Serbia's Kosovo province has sparked a surge of illegal migration by ethnic Albanians into western and central Europe. According to a report compiled by the Geneva-based International Organisation of Migration, the main countries affected are Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Britain.

The report just out gives no overall figures but says the number of Kosovo Albanians detected attempting to cross the Czech-German border illegally in the first half of 1998 was three times higher than in the same period the previous year.

Czech border guards reported that they had caught almost 9,500 Yugoslav citizens seeking to enter Germany and Slovakia illegally during the first 10 months of last year.


Drug enforcement experts in the Czech Republic expressed deep concern on Thursday over the death of a 22-year-old man in the northern town of Most of an overdose of an unidentified drug.

The man died earlier this month and another ten people were in the state of clinical death after using the drug.

Lubomir Slapka from the Most anti-drug centre told the CTK news agency that police were on the verge of arresting a vendor.


The Jedlicka Institute for Handicapped Children in the North Bohemian town of Liberec has become the Czech Republic's fourth institution of this type to be hooked up to the internet within the framework of the national "Let's Talk Together" project.

The institute's spokesman said on Thursday the new facility will help handicapped children to acquire basic communication skills and make them more independent.


And finally, a quick look at the weather in the Czech Republic.

Friday will be a wet and cloudy day with daytime temperatures between four and eight degrees Celsius, cooling to between two and six below freezing in the night.

The weekend will be rather wet, with nighttime lows around freezing point and daytime highs on both days between three and seven degrees above.

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