News Friday, MAY 14th, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to you all from Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik, and we start as usual with a look at the main news stories today. First the headlines.


Austria's environmental organisations Greenpeace and Global 2000 say they will continue to fight against the Czech government's decision to complete the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia, close to the Austrian border.

The Czech Social Democrat cabinet gave the go ahead to the completion of Temelin at a late- night session on Wednesday. Some key members of the cabinet were against the plan, and the same holds true of President Vaclav Havel. Lower House Speaker Vaclav Klaus is a staunch supporter of Temelin.

The Austrian groups, which consider Temelin a safety risk for the whole region, expressed hope on Thursday that the government's decision can still be reversed. They insist that the Austrian government make Temelin an issue in connection with the Czech Republic's bid to join the European Union.

Here in Prague, Czech environmentalists have vowed to go on fighting against Temelin. Jakub Patocka from the environmental movement DUHA, or Rainbow, said they were going to use all legal instruments available, including lawsuits, to make the government change its mind.


The government's decision to launch Temelin is making ripples especially in the coal-mining regions of Northern Bohemia, where some companies have indicated imminent and massive layoffs.

The Most Coal Company, based in the town of the same name, said on Thursday it would temporarily close its Kohinoor Mine and lay off its 1200 employees.

Businessmen and companies in North Bohemia have expressed fears that the launching of the Temelin nuclear plant will affect not only the region's mining activity but in fact also all the other vital industries.


Greece said on Thursday that it and fellow NATO member, the Czech Republic, would submit a joint plan on resolving the Kosovo crisis to NATO, the European Union and other organisations.

Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Yannos Kranidiotis told a news conference in Athens that this initiative was a contribution to seeking a solution to the Kosovo problem through the United Nations. He said the paper, which calls for simultaneous withdrawal of Serb troops from Kosovo and ending of NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia, was also supported by Slovenia and Italy.

Foreign ministry officials said the draft was in the same vein as a proposal made by the G8 the seven leading industrial nations and Russia – last week and did not intend to show cracks in the NATO alliance.


United States Ambassador to Prague John Shattuck and his wife on Thursday paid a visit to a Kosovo Albanian refugee camp at Zbysov near the Moravian city of Brno.

The envoy told correspondent that the United States was expected to accept up to 20,000 Kosovars in the near future.


Following six months of intensive efforts, a leading Cuban dissident's dream to meet his model, Czech President Vaclav Havel, came true on Thursday.

Human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez was unable to meet Havel in Prague during last autumn's Forum 2000 world conference because Fidel Castro's regime seized his passport.

Sanchez praised President Havel and the Czech Republic for their support for Cuban human rights activists.

Last month, the Czech Republic tabled a draft resolution in the UN Human Rights Commission, appealing to the Cuban government to respect civil rights and liberties and to set free all its prisoners of conscience.


Government Human Rights Commissioner Petr Uhl said on Thursday that Canada was going to review the visa duty, imposed on Czech citizens 18 months ago in the wake of a massive exodus of Roma people from the Czech Republic to Canada and Britain.

He said the visa requirement could be abolished in the autumn. But the Canadian embassy's spokeswoman Lucie Cermakova said there was no timetable on the issue.

The Romany exodus took place in summer 1997 after private TV NOVA featured a programme about the life of Czech Romanies in Canada.


Meanwhile, several Roma organisations here in the Czech Republic have launched an international protest campaign against the pig farm now operating on the site of a World War II Roma labour camp at Lety in South Bohemia.

The Roma National Congress said it would appeal to tourists not to eat pork while visiting the Czech Republic.


Ice-hockey and the Czech Republic forced its way into the finals of the World Championships in Norway. They beat Canada in Thursday's semifinal in Lillehammer.

In normal playing time, the Czechs beat Canada six goals to four. In penalty shootout after a goal-less 10-minute extension, the Czech Republic - Canada five goals to four.


And finally, a quick look at the weather.

We are in for a rather wet weekend, I am afraid, with some scattered thunderstorms on both days. We expect night-time lows around 10 degrees Celsius, and daytime highs between 14 and 18 degrees.

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