News Friday, MAY 19th, 2000

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A very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik, and we start the programme with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines:

Those were the headlines, now for the news in more detail.

CZECH-HAVEL-ROMANIA

Czech President Vaclav Havel has praised Romania for its pro-European outlook and democratic reforms.

On a one visit on Thursday, Havel vowed to throw his support behind Romania's quest to join NATO and the European Union.

He said he hoped that the two countries would meet before too long as members of both organisations.

Mr. Havel was speaking after talks with Romanian President Emil Constantinescu on bilateral economic ties and cooperation within the Central European Free Trade Agreement or CEFTA.

CZECH-HAVEL-BALKANS-CRITICISE

Earlier, President Havel criticised the United Nations human rights envoy on former Yugoslavia Jiri Dienstbier -- a former Czechoslovak foreign minister and one of his closest associates in the Charter 77 dissident movement against communist rule.

Speaking to reporters in Prague, President Havel questioned Mr. Dienstbier's insight on the problems of south-eastern Europe. He said his remarks were often an affront to the endeavour to restore democracy and kick-start the economy in the region.

Mr. Dienstbier rejected Havel's criticism, saying he had repeatedly praised the efforts of thousands of people who are genuinely trying to help Kosovo. He said it was inconsistency on the part of world political leaders which hindered introducing the province to democratic, multiparty conditions.

Mr. Dienstbier, who had his UN mandate extended recently, is a vocal critic of the NATO strikes against Yugoslavia last year. He says the allied action against Slobodan Milosevic has solved nothing.

CZECH-SENATE-LABOURCODE

The Czech Senate has passed a government amendment to the Labour Code, introducing sweeping new changes to make it compatible with EU legislative standards.

All senators from the main-opposition Civic Democratic Party voted against the bill.

The amendment envisages an extension of the basic three-week paid leave, sets limits for overtime work, and makes it mandatory for employers to consult trade unions on planned mass redundancies.

CZECH-JUSTICE-REFORM

A ranking official of the Czech Ministry of Justice says a delay in justice reforms may mean complications in adopting the judicial standards of the European Union.

Deputy Justice Minister Alois Cihlar spoke in Prague one day after the House of Deputies overturned amendments design to start up the much-needed reform.

He said the last regular European Commission report had described justice as a weak spot of the Czech system.

The Czech Republic is one of the fast track candidates for EU membership. Both President Havel and Bar Association chief Libor Vavra have expressed dismay over the House failure to pass what they described as a long overdue amendment to the Czech Constitution.

CZECH-EU-JUSTICE

In a related development, the European Union has promised over 20 million crowns in aid to the reform of the Czech justice system.

EU officials said a judge from the Netherlands would spend a year in this country thoroughly analysing the system.

CZECH-INDUSTRY-STRIKE

The Skoda Holding engineering group in Plzen has successfully averted a strike the trade unions have threatened to call over plans to restructure the company.

Union leaders said on Thursday they had been told that the management would brief them periodically about the pace of its reform drive.

CZECH-ROMA-EXODUS

Roma activists in the West Bohemian town of Most say over 60 Roma families from their community have emigrated to Britain in pursuit of better living conditions.

Activists in the Chanov suburb of Most, which is populated mainly by Romanies, have said the emigrants are selling their apartments for extremely low prices in order to earn the price of air ticets.

CZECH-SOCCER-SPARTA

Football -- and Czech champions Sparta Prague said on Thursday they had agreed to sell striker Vratislav Lokvenc to the German team Kaiserslautern for over six million marks or nearly three million US dollars.

Lokvenc, this season's leading Czech marksman with 22 goals, will sign a three-year contract with the Bundesliga club.

The Sparta spokesman said defender Petr Gabriel would also join Kaiserslautern for at least three years in a three-million-mark deal. The spokesman added that another German team, Cologne, have signed Miroslav Baranek from Sparta for three million marks and the club has put a price tag of 20 million dollars on their 19-year-old playmaker Tomas Rosicky.

CZECH-RADIO-BUILDING

And finally, Czech Radio, of which Radio Prague is a component part, on Thursday inaugurated a new broadcasting house. Attached to the station's old building on Prague's Vinohradska Street, the 600-million-crown annex is equipped with state-of-the-art digital recording, editing and broadcasting technologies.

The ceremony marked 77 years of regular radio broadcasting in this country. Czech Radio's predecessor Radio Journal went on the air for the first time in May 1923.

CZECH-WEATHER

And we end as usual with a quick look at the weather.

Colder western air will continue to pour into the Czech Republic on Friday, bringing along frequent showers and occasional thunderstorms. We expect daytime highs between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius dropping to between five and nine degrees in the night.

Saturday will be a wet day with nighttime lows between four and eight Celsius and maximum daytime temperatures between 14 and 18 degrees.

I'm Libor Kubik and that's the news.