News Monday, FEBRUARY 15th, 1999

Hello and welcome to RP. Those were the main points, and now the news in full, read by Alena Skodova.

Sedivy in the USA

Czech army Chief of Staff Jiri Sedivy has arrived in the United States. During his 6-day visit, he will hold talks with top representatives of the US army and visit several military bases. The agenda of his talks will be topped by issues related to the Czech Republic's admission to the North Atlantic Alliance, especially the Czech army's incorporation into NATO structures. Other topics that will be discussed include possible cooperation between the two countries' armies, and the present situation in Kosovo.

BIS - abolishment

In a regular debate on private TV Nova, vice-premier for legislation Pavel Rychetsky has said that the Czech counter-intelligence service, the BIS, should be either thoroughly re-organized or abolished. According to Rychetsky, the BIS gobbles up some 700 million crowns a year without producing any positive results. Rychetsky said that the cabinet is considering the submission of a solution to this problem to parliament. Chairman of the Freedom Union party and former Interior Minister Jan Ruml opposed Rychetsky's view, saying that the BIS has always been praised abroad for being a high quality security and information service.

Revitalization of the Czech Industry

The governmental Economic Council will debate on Monday a re- vitalization programme for the Czech industry put forward by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The main goal of the programme is to resume entrepreneurial activities and boost competitiveness of strategically important and perspective industrial entreprises, which find themselves in economic dire straits at present. The programme will be consulted with respective EU bodies and discussed by the government next week.

Death penalty - debate

In a debate, broadcast on Prima TV, Vice-premier Vladimir Spidla and Freedom Union deputy chairman Vaclav Krasa have agreed that capital punishment should not be restored to the Czech legal code. Both politicians expressed the view that life imprisonment sufficiently protects society against dangerous criminals. However, surveys show that most Czech citizens - 67 percent - favour the return of the death penalty.

Klaus visits Northern Moravia

Speaker of parliament and chairman of the Civic democratic party, ODS, Vaclav Klaus is in Northern Moravia on Monday to attend his party's regional congresses in Ostrava and Karvina. His programme also includes a meeting with the new leadership of the Ostrava Townhall and a visit to the Ostrava University, as well as a working lunch with representatives of Ostrava's biggest factories and enterprises.

Klaus's party colleague, the Czech Senate's chairwoman, Libuse Benesova has left for Western Bohemia. She'll pay a visit to the townhalls in the spa town of Marianske Lazne and in Sokolov, where she had been invited by her colleague, Senator Jiri Vyvadil from the ruling Social democratic party.

The State versus the Church - complaint

Christian democrat deputy Jiri Karas opines that the present strained relations between the state and the Church have resulted from the cabinet's efforts to cast doubt on the role of the Christian Church and to lower its significance. Karas complains that the governmental commission set up to hold talks with the Church includes persons that church representatives find unacceptable, and he does not agree with the interpretation of an expertise that was carried out by two experts from Charles University in Prague, either. According to this analysis the Roman Catholic church has no right to get back its confiscated property, as it had never been its real owner.


Now a quick look at the weather: a warm front is moving to the Czech Republic from the West, and so we expect cloudy skies with occasional snow showers, especially in the mountain areas. Daily highs will range between minus 4 and zero degrees Celsius.