News Monday, MARCH 06th, 2000

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Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Nick Carey and this is the news. First, a look the headlines:

Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail:

President Havel assures Albright that Czech Republic will not supply parts to Iran

Czech President Vaclav Havel has assured the US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that the Czech Republic will not supply parts for the construction of a nuclear power plant in Iran. The Czech Republic has been under pressure from Western powers to prevent a deal signed by a Czech company, ZVVZ Milevsko, to sell ventilation components to be used in the construction of the power plant in Bushehr. President Havel promised the US Secretary of State, who is on a four-day visit to the Czech Republic, that the Czech Republic would not provide any equipment to Iran that could be used to boost Iran's nuclear capabilities. At the same time, President Havel said that it is important for the international community to pay attention to the increase in moderate forces in Iran. Mrs. Albright told President Havel that Washington would like the Czech Republic to increase the number of police officers it has stationed in Kosovo. President Havel said that the six Czech police officers currently serving in the province was not much, and this number should be increased to twenty. Overall, Mrs. Albright praised the Czech Republic's participation in NATO during its first year of membership, and welcomed the defence spending increase in the newly approved budget.

Prime Minister to begin cabinet changes this week

Prime Minister Milos Zeman has announced that he will begin cabinet changes this week. Three ministers are to go, the prime minister says, and he will begin informing them as of today that they are to be replaced. Mr. Zeman told journalists that he intends to replace one minister a week over the next few weeks, but the public will not be informed of any meetings. The general public will find out who the new ministers are once they named by President Vaclav Havel. Analysts and opposition parties believe that the most likely ministers to be replaced are Minister without Portfolio Jaroslav Basta, Minister of Transport Antonin Peltram, Regional Development Minister Jaromir Cisar, and Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich.

Foreign residency law must be changed, says deputy prime minister

The new Czech foreign residency law will need amendment, according to Deputy Prime Minister in charge of legislation Pavel Rychetsky. Rychetsky, appearing on a televised debate on TV Nova on Sunday, said that some points of the controversial new law are problematic, in particular the procedure of demanding multiple documents at Czech borders. The law, in effect since January 1st, requires citizens of so-called problem countries to submit two passport photos and proof of medical insurance at the border before being allowed entry into the country. The law has met with criticism those countries on the list of problem countries, but also from the European Union member states, who have complained about the new requirement that long-term visas must be obtained from Czech embassies in the country before departure. Rychetsky said that while the law should have an overall positive impact on cutting down the number of illegal workers in the country, he admitted that the legislation needed to be changed with respect to various types of work permits - in the scientific, cultural and artistic fields.

Leader of extreme-right National Alliance claims he is political prisoner

The leader of the Czech extreme-right organization the National Alliance Vladimir Skoupy currently in custody on charges of propagating fascism has declared himself a political prisoner, in statements read out by members of the group over the weekend. The police arrested Skoupy one week ago for wearing a shirt at a demonstration in mid-February which was fashioned after the uniform of certain Nazi SS units. The National Alliance leader also faces earlier charges of publicly denying the Holocaust. Members of the National Alliance told the CTK News Agency that the Interior Ministry´s attempts to ban the group are futile and that they plan to register a new political party in the coming days.

Sasa Gedeon´s Return of the idiot wins best Czech film of the year

Sasa Gedeon´s film ´The Return of the idiot´´ was awarded the Czech Lion for the best film of 1999 at a gala award ceremony on Saturday night in Prague. This comedy inspired by Dostoevsky´s novel received a total of five awards. The film has also met with international acclaim, earning Sasa Gedeon a nomination for best screenwriter at the 1999 European Film Awards.

First seminar conducted on Holocaust Education

A three-day seminar on Holocaust Education was held over the weekend in the Czech town of Terezin, the site of a former Nazi concentration camp. This seminar, part of an international taskforce on Holocaust Education, was the first in a series of thirteen organized by the educational department of the Terezin site and funded by the Czech Ministry of Education and the Open Society Fund. Some 500 Czech teachers are expected to participate in the seminars this year, which include lectures on Judaism, the history of the Jewish community in the Czech lands and the Holocaust itself.

And finally the weather.

The weather tonight should be clear and fairly mild, with temperatures slightly above zero degrees centigrade. The weather on Tuesday should bring cloudy to overcast skies, with light scattered showers in places. Temperatures during the day should range from seven to eleven degrees centigrade.

I'm Nick Carey, and that's the end of the news.