News Monday, AUGUST 02th, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Pauline Newman, first let's take 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 more detail...

Falbr / Zeman / Advisors

Chairman of the Czech Trade Union, Richard Falbr openly criticised Premier Milos Zeman on Sunday in a live televised debate, for refusing to reveal the number of advisors in the government. "These advisors are paid for by the tax payer - people have a right to this informnation" an outraged Mr Falbr said, adding that in the past, while there were only some 150 advisors, there are now about 450. He believes that Mr Zeman's refusal to answer the question, is simply an another example of the poor behaviour by politicians in this country, and is one of the main reasons Mr Falbr has signed Impluse 99, a movement calling for greater communication between people and political parties.

Britian / Romanies / Visas

Petr Uhl, a representative of the Czech government said on Sunday that in autumn, London could well impose visa restrictions on Czechs visiting Great Britain. He was speaking in connection with the large number of romanies currently seeking asylum in England. Official statistics at the moment, indicate that over a 100 romanies per month are arriving in Dover, with the intention of staying for as long as possible.

According to the British embassy, figures reached a record high in June. Speaking on a live televised debate, Petr Uhl said that if the trend continues into July, August and September, Britan is likley to re-introduce the necessity of visas for Czechs and that the Prague government will be unable to do anything about the move.

CR / EU / Land

The Czech republic is facing a serious obstacle in its attempt to join the European Union. According to EU officials, the sale of land to foreign nationals has unleashed a fierce debate. They say the price of land, not only in the Czech Republic but also in Poland and Hungary, is five, if not sometimes ten times cheaper than that of member states. Experts say that in the case of the Czech Republic as well as Poland, there are historical connotations, linked with issues such as the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans after the Second World War. They say that a problem could arise with the possibility of Germans trying to buy back their old properties. The result is that the European Commission will over the next few weeks produce a report which will be discussed at a council of member states.

Impulse 99 / Political reaction

Impulse 99 continues to produce a mixed reaction on the Czech political scene. While Deputy Chairwoman of the Social Democrats Petra Buzkova spoke of the movement on Sunday as an offer to open dialogue, ODS deputy Jan Zahradil referred to it as puzzling. The organisation contains some 200 signatories who want to push political parties to listen to people and reinstore some integrity to Czech society. Jan Zahradil told journalists that he is unsure of the motives behind Impulse 99 and indirectly advised the movement to become a political party. He said that the only way current political parties can change for the better is from within. Premier Milos Zeman told journalists on Monday morning that he considers Impulse 99 to be "an empty declaration" adding that he has never refused communication with other politicians".

British / Kosovo / Language

A group of British volounteers arrived in the Czech Republic on Sunday to teach English to Kosovo refugees living in Czech humanitarian centres. The six students are members of the non-profit making organisation choice and will be in the Czech Republic for the next two weeks.

A spokeswoman from a Czech Humanitarian agency said on Sunday, that at least a basic knowledge of English, when they return to their homes, will enable the Kosovars to communicate with members of the international peace-keeping forces.

Havel / Robertson / Support

Czech President Vaclav Havel has voiced his approval of George Robertson's nomination to succeed Javier Solana as NATO Secretary- General. His support comes along with that of other leading politicians.

Britain announced late last week in Sarajevo, it had nominated the Defence Secretary, who proved an influential leader during the Kosovo war and is the architect of an admired strategic defence review. Vaclav Havel has also told journalists, that by attending the Sarajevo Summit, world leaders were showing their responsibility for developments in the Balkans. Statesmen meeting in the Bosnian capital, have endorsed an ambitious plan to end a cycle of bloody Balkan wars, by creating what they hope will be the conditions for peace, prosperity and security.

Speaking to journalists upon his return from Sarajevo, the Czech President said that after ten years of conflict in former Yugoslavia, it has emerged that everyone has a right to freedom and human dignity. Mr Havel said that the summit had more than just a symbolic significance, in his view, it was an attempt to repair society and institute democratic thought and freedom. Serbia has since dismissed the Summit, saying it prefers to rebuild its country through trade not aid.

Foreign Ministry / Bribes / Zieleniece

Controversy continues to surround speculation that in the past, the Czech Foreign ministry gave bribes to journalists. This follows recent claims made by the present Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, who first said two weeks ago, that he had proof of these illegal practices. In his latest move, he told journalists on Friday evening, that he intends to hand over all the information to Premier Milos Zeman who will deal with the matter. Mr Zeman is well known in Czech politics for his ability to produce evidence pointing to scandal.

The Czech Premier for his part, also alledges that to his knowledge, the ministry during the mid-nineties under Josef Zieleniece, concluded some sixty contracts with various journalists and news agencies, in return for presenting the office in a good light to the public. Mr Zieleniece says he is eager to see the evidence and will also expect an apology from Milos Zeman, simply because in his words: "Lies should not become a normal part of dialogue between politicians and the public".

Record donations / Kosovo

A Prague based catholic charity received over the weekend, donations and gifts of some 22 million Czech crowns. A spokesman said the organisation was quite overwhelmed, adding that six million will be used to provide immediate aid to refugees who are currently in the Czech Republic, while the rest will go on financing long term projects in Kosovo.

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

Although the hot weather we've been having over the last few days is likely to last until Wednesday, there is a possibility of rain towards Monday the evening. During the day, however, skies will be clear and sunny, with temperatures reaching a high of 29 degrees celsius falling to about 11 overnight.

I'm Pauline Newman and that's the end of the news.