News Monday, MAY 10th, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to you all from Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik.

Those were the headlines, and now the news in more detail.


Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis has described the Czech Republic as a model to be emulated by his country in its bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty organisation.

Speaking to correspondents at the start of his visit to Prague, which begins on Friday, the Latvian president said he does not fear that Russia could misuse European political tensions to plunge the Baltic region in general, and Latvia in particular, into a conflict similar to that in the Balkans.

He said Latvia's Russian community would never tolerate any aggressive behaviour on the part of Moscow.

President Ulmanis is arriving in Prague at the invitation of his Czech counterpart Vaclav Havel.


An American Vietnam War veteran has said in Prague that the Vietnam syndrome is the reason why U.S. leaders are reluctant to launch a ground offensive against Yugoslavia.

The veteran, Peter Gunn, on Sunday told a Nino Pasti Foundation conference here in Prague that anti-war sentiments in the post-Vietnam War United States were just as strong as those in Russia way back in 1917 the year of Lenin's Bolshevik coup.

According to the veteran, US politicians realise that the Serbs are well prepared for guerilla warfare in which American losses would be huge and many US soldiers of Slav and other ethnic origin could find themselves fighting people like them.


Czech Finance Minister Ivo Svoboda has said that the state budget deficit should not exceed the value of 47 billion crowns, and that unemployment should start dropping within the next year or two.

He said in a Sunday discussion programme on private TV NOVA that at the time of compiling the budget the government could not have anticipated the impact of several amendments to tax legislation, which were passed in the process of parliamentary voting on the budget.

He said one of the most serious impacts was the slump in the German economy in the last three months of 1998.

But his opponent, Shadow Finance Minister Vlastimil Tlusty, argued that the state budget deficit has been increasing dramatically over the past 12 months. He said some experts predicted a deficit of between 50 and 60 billion crowns.


The Czech utility company CEZ said on Sunday it has no plans to close any coal-fired power plants after the launching of the controversial Temelin nuclear station in South Bohemia. Instead, the operation of the conventional electric power plans would be scaled down.

But the company's business director Petr Voboril told Czech Public Television that CEZ could mothball some of its brown-coal plants in off-peak seasons.

The Social Democrat cabinet is to decide on Wednesday whether to complete Temelin in its intended form. Opponents of the project mainly Czech and Austrian environmental activist groups argue that the Czech Republic will not need electricity from this plant in the near future, and that if it is launched some brown-coal plants in North Bohemia will have to be shut down.


Prayers were held on Sunday at the Jewish cemetery in the North Moravian university town of Olomouc in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust during World War II.

In June 1942, the Nazis rounded up about 1,000 Jews from the Olomouc region and sent them to the Terezin concentration camp north of Prague. Three more transports followed shortly, bringing 3,500 Jews to captivity. Only 270 survived.


Sunday was Mothers' Day. Its tradition, restored after the Velvet Revolution 10 years ago, is only very slowly making its way back into the conscience of the Czechs, who for 40 years were accustomed to marking International Women's Day, the preferred holiday under Communism.

Our correspondent says florists have not reported any increased sales. Young people especially prefer celebrating St. Valentine's Day, which has more attractions for them.


The international interpreting composition of the Prague Spring Music Festival opened on Sunday. This year's emphasis is on organ and harpsichord, and participants come from all across Europe but also from Brazil, Hong Kong and South Korea.

The Prague Spring Festival itself opens on May 12.


Ice hockey and the Czech Republic beat Slovakia eight goals to nil in the quarterfinals of the World Championships in Norway.

In their second quarterfinal match, the Czechs on Sunday made up for their six-one defeat at the hands of the Russian team on Friday.

To qualify for the semis, the Czech team is facing yet another formidable obstacle Sweden. The match is scheduled for eight p.m. on Monday.


And finally, a quick look at the weather.

On Monday, the Czech Republic will find itself under the impact of a high-pressure area advancing from the southwest. We expect to enjoy a very mild spring day, with daytime highs between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius.

I am Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.