News Monday, APRIL 17th, 2000

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Demonstration against globalisation

Several hundred people demonstrated in Prague on Sunday in protest against economic globalisation and the IMF and World Bank session that took place at the weekend in Washigton. The demonstration was organised by the Initiative Against Economic Globalisation. The demonstrators described the two institutions as undemocratic and blamed them for impoverishing the third world as well as damaging the environment. There was a strong police presence and no serious incidents were reported. Several demonstrators were detained after they refused to observe police directions.

EC negotiator to discuss telecommunications with Prague

European Commission negotiator for the Czech Republic, Michael Leigh, arrives in Prague on Monday to discuss liberalisation of the telecommunications sector. The European commission has indirectly warned that if the new Czech law on telecommunications is not in line with the Czech Republic's obligations the country has taken in the positioning document on this issue, the EU might re-open the telecommunications chapter. The lower house of the Czech Parliament has approved the full liberalisation of telecommunications as of June 2001, while the EU insists that the Czech telecommunications sector be opened to competition half a year earlier.

Treasury and Central Bank agree on inflation target

The Czech National Bank and the Ministry of Finance have agreed on setting the inflation target for the year 2001. Central bank governor Josef Tosovsky told reporters that the inflation target still must be approved by the Central Bank board. The Czech National Bank has often been criticised for an overly restrictive monetary policy and for being too independent in setting the inflation goals. Governor Tosovsky said that the Central bank and the ministry of finance agreed on all important issues. However, he sees room for further improvement in co- ordinating the work on the same task next year. Economic analysts welcome the agreement between the two institutions, saying it will give more credibility to the Central bank's inflation setting and other policies. The Czech National Bank set the net inflation target for this year between 3.5 and 5.5 percent. Analysts are rather sceptical about hitting the mark at the end of the year, because since 1998, when the bank introduced the inflation targeting, it has always undershot the mark.

Defence minister visits Sweden

Czech defence minister Vladimir Vetchy has arrived in Sweden for a three-day official visit. The main item on his agenda is a visit to an army air-base with the Gripen fighter jets. However, Vetchy denied that his trip was in any way connected with the planned purchase of new supersonic aircraft for the Czech Air Force. The Czech government is to decide whether to call a public tender for new aircraft next week. The government has already signed a memorandum of understanding with the consortium British Aerospace / Saab which makes Gripens. Last week, foreign minister Jan Kavan met with representatives of two American companies which are also interested in supplying the Czech Air Force with their products.

Czech movie successful at Argentina film festival

Czech movie The Return of an Idiot has been awarded two prizes at the 11th International Independent Film Festival in Argentina. The film has been received positively both by the audience and the jury which awarded it two of the four main prizes. The director Sasa Gedeon has received the award for the best script and actresses Anna Geislerova and Tatiana Vilhelmova received the best actress awards.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather forecast. A cold front from the North- West will start influencing the weather in the Czech Republic on Monday. We are expecting a cloudy day with scattered showers, afternoon highs should range from 18 to 22 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.