News Friday, NOVEMBER 26th, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Dita Asiedu first we start with a look at the main headlines of the day:

You are tuned to radio Prague. Those were the headlines, now let's take a look at the news in full:

Czech - Russian ties

The Czech Foreign Office has so far refused to discuss the latest exchange between Prague and Moscow.

This comes after the Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday accused the Czech republic of continuing to support Chechen separatists and terrorists, adding that this attitude could affect Czech - Russian ties. A document released by the Russian News agency Interfax stated that Prague should realize that becoming involved in affairs of the Russian Federation is not only unfriendly but ungrateful. No official document has been handed to Czech representatives in Moscow.

An official at the Czech Foreign Ministry said on Thursday evening that Russia's latest move is not a sign that relations are deteriorating. Czech Premier Milos Zeman has commented that accusing the entire nation of Chechnya of being terrorists is wholly unjust. Head of the Senate's Foreign affairs Club Michal Zantovsky slammed Russia's statement, saying it was "openly unfriendly". Russia's latest move was in reaction to Monday's note from the Czech Foreign Ministry defending itself against Russian anger at the visit of Chechen Foreign Minister Ilyas Achmadov to Prague.

Czech - German Conference

A conference starts on Friday in Brno, Moravia, on the subject of Czech - German ties and European integration. This is an annual conference, where a forty member council of Czech and German politicians and experts meet. The event was established on the basis of the Czech - German Declaration signed between the two countries in 1997 after years of problems left over from the Second World War. Last year, the conference took place in Dresden and was attended by Czech President Vaclav Havel and his German counterpart Roman Herzog. This year, the meeting will be attended amongst others, by European Union Enlargement commissioner Gunter Verheugen, deputy Chairwoman of the lower house of Parliament Petra Buzkova, and members of the German Foreign office.

Activists let down and baffled by politicians

On Thursday, Civic democrat leader Vaclav Klaus met with a group of activists who last week, called for a change of political leadership. Although Klaus left the meeting saying he could to a certain extent sympathize with their cause, the activists were not as appreciative in their comments on the outcome of the talks. They were disappointed, saying that after an hour full of "insults, invectives and being ignored" there was no sign of Klaus having agreed with them. The activists who as students, were at the forefront of anti-Communist demonstrations in 1989, say the current government is very damaging to the country and in their petition thanked Prague politicians and asked them to make way for new leaders.

Vaclav Klaus said on Thursday that during the talks, he had told the activists that a super grand coalition, with the exclusion of the communists, was the only way out of the current political stalemate in Prague.

In the meantime, communist party leader Miroslav Grebenicek has voiced his support for the call for change. He said the group had made a legitimate appeal and that he was prepared to take it seriously. This has met with a negative reaction from the signatories of the petition, who said on Thursday that Communist support for their cause was absurd. One of the activists told journalists that the call for change was aimed at alerting democratic parties to the danger of a communist comeback.

When the former students first revealed their feelings last week on the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, many prominent politicians were dismissive. Czech Premier Milos Zeman scathingly labelled it "juvenile".

Brajer to leave

Deputy Director of the Prague Riot Police Jan Brajer who lead a crackdown on demonstrators in 1989 is leaving the police corps. Although he had applied for the job of director, a police film confirmed that Brajer had taken part in police action against students in 1989.

This comes as the Czech media claimed earlier in the week, that Brajer who has been in charge of police operations in recent years, also led police action against protestors in January 1989. Czech Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich said on Thursday that from now on, people in the police force will have to be more carefully screened.

Havel and Klaus on Czech - Slovak property deal

Czech President Vaclav Havel has welcomed the property deal signed between Prague and Bratislava on Wednesday. A spokesman said Havel has known of the details of the agreement for several months.

Czech Premier Milos Zeman and his Slovak counterpart signed the agreement on the division of former Czechoslovak property, bringing to an end a long term dispute. Under the terms of the deal, it was agreed that the Slovaks will hand over their share in a Czech bank and the Czechs will hand over their stake in a Slovak bank. Vaclav Havel sees it as a move which will end years of quarreling over property.

Not everyone is as pleased as the President. Vaclav Klaus, leader of the main Civic democratic opposition party has slammed the Czech government over the deal. He was quick to criticize on Thursday saying it was the very solution he has been warning against, since it will result in the state debt increasing by 25 billion crowns. A Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman said earlier in the week, that the deal was a political agreement in the interests of Czech - Slovak ties. Klaus also told journalists on Thursday, that this is a very sensitive issue and criticized Czech Premier Milos Zeman for not having discussed the deal with him. Klaus who has signed a power sharing deal with Zeman, complained, saying he knows nothing about the agreement except what has been printed in the papers.

Farewell to Lux on Monday

The funeral of former Christian democrat leader Josef Lux will be held on Monday in St. Vitus Cathedral. Lux died on Monday at a clinic in America where he had been undergoing treatment for leukemia. He is to be buried on Tuesday in the family grave in eastern Bohemia.

And we end as usual with a brief look at the weather:

We are in for a cloudy, overcast day on Friday, slightly warmer than it has been recently, with temperatures ranging from 2 to 6 degrees Celsius. Overnight some snow is expected in the mountains and temperatures in the rest of the country should remain at around zero.

I'm Dita Asiedu and that's the end of the news.