News Friday, MAY 05th, 2000

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Nick Carey and this is the news. First, a look at the headlines.

Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail:

Russian Foreign Ministry condemns Havel's words

The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused President Vaclav Havel of calling into question the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, and for trying to excuse the actions of separatists and terrorists in Chechnya. This came following a comment made by President Havel that Chechnya has not always belonged to Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry's stated that Prague must realise that the Russian federal government is trying to restore law and order in Chechnya, and that this is also part of a fight against international terrorism. President Havel has so far not made any comment on this statement.

Jospin: EU ready for enlargement by the end of 2002

At a meeting between the prime ministers of the four Visegrad countries - the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia - and the French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, the French prime minister told his counterparts that the EU will be ready for enlargement by the end of 2002. Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman announced after the meeting, which took place in Budapest, that Mr. Jospin had confirmed the results of the EU Helsinki summit last December, that internal EU reform will be completed by the end of 2002. Mr. Zeman said that the French prime minister did not specify whether the accession of new members would take place in tandem with the ratification of EU reforms. The French Prime Minister also did not specify the number of countries that would join the EU.

Dole and Havel agree on NATO expansion

President Havel and former American senator Bob Dole met on Thursday to discuss NATO expansion. After the meeting, the president's spokesman told reporters that both President Havel and Mr. Dole had agreed that further NATO expansion is fundamental. President Havel explained his vision for the alliance to the former senator. According to the president, Slovakia and Slovenia should be in the next wave of expansion, followed by the Baltic states and other European countries. The president also thanked Mr. Doler for his support for Czech membership in NATO.

Earlier in the day, Bob Dole received an honorary degree from the University of West Bohemia in the city of Plzen. Mr. Dole was attending celebrations to mark the 55th anniversary of the liberation of Plzen by American soldiers at the end of World War Two. As part of the celebrations, Mr. Dole laid a wreath at a monument in Plzen dedicated to the American soldiers that liberated the city.

Jewish Community offers help to insurance company

The Prague Jewish community has offered to help the Czech insurance company Ceska Pojistovan change the construction plans of its headquarters. During preliminary construction work two years ago, remains of a medieval Jewish cemetery were discovered. After discussing various solutions for the remains, the government ruled in March that the remains must be preserved, and that this will involve altering the construction plans of the headquarters. Ceska Pojistovna has so far not been able to change the plans, because it says that drawn out bureaucratic processes are causing delays. The Jewish community says that it is willing to help resolve any problems the insurance company faces in implementing the alterations.

Communists condemn police actions against anarchists

Communist Party chairman Vlastimil Balin has condemned the charges made by the police against anarchist demonstrators during May Day celebrations. Because the policemen present did not display any identification numbers, Mr. Balin says that they were there in a purely confrontational capacity. Mr. Balin stated that the Communist Party will not participate in any violent protests, but he believes that charging and arresting anarchists is a part of efforts to demonise left-wing parties and make them seem like enemies in the eyes of the general public.

Klaus has positive view on globalisation

In a speech given at the 33rd congress of the International Chamber of Commerce in Budapest, Czech Parliamentary chairman Vaclav Klaus said that he views globalisation positively. According to Mr. Klaus, globalisation is an evolutionary processes, and although it has some negative impacts, it has an enormous potential to enrich the lives of people and create a homogeneous world. There is no way to halt the process of globalisation, said Mr. Klaus, and there is no sound reason to try.

Czech Crown weakens further

In trading on Thursday morning, the Czech Crown continued its fall against the American dollar. The Crown now stands at 41 to one American dollar, which is a record low. The Crown is expected to fall further to 42 to the dollar.

Prime Minister must apologise, says court

According to a verdict handed out by the Prague High Court, Prime Minister Milos Zeman must formally apologise to the deputy chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats, Miroslav Macek. Mr. Macek took the prime minister to court over remarks Mr. Zeman made during the panel discussion programme 7 or Seven Days two years ago. During the programme, the prime minister accused Mr. Macek of asset stripping a book wholesaler while it was being privatised. The court ruled that although the privatisation of the wholesaler was not in according with the law, it has not been proven Mr. Macek himself committed any crime. The court also ordered that the prime minister must make a public apology before the next edition of the programme. The prime minister has so far not commented on the ruling.

Bad news for mushroom enthusiasts

While the sunny weather we've been having lately in the Czech Republic is welcomed by most, it's bad news for Czech mushroom picking enthusiasts. Mushroom picking is a national pastime in the Czech Republic, but according to experts the recent dry and breezy weather is not beneficial for the growth of these popular fungi. Mushrooms are still apparently flourishing in damp places right now, so there is still hope for fungi fans throughout the Czech Republic.

And finally the weather

The weather over the weekend will continue pleasant, with clear to partially cloudy skies, with the possibility of rain showers or thunder storms in places. Temperatures during the day should range between twenty two and twenty six degrees centigrade. Temperatures during the night should be around eleven degrees centigrade. I'm Nick Carey, and that's the end of the news.