News of Radio Prague

Zelezny to respect court ruling

The director of the commercial television station TV Nova, Vladimir Zelezny, says he will respect a ruling from an arbitration court in an ownership dispute over the station. Mr. Zelezny's company, CNTS, has been fighting CME, an American company owned by Ronald Lauder, over ownership of TV Nova for two years. An arbitration court has ruled that Mr. Zelezny must pay roughly twenty seven million dollars in debts owed to CME. Mr. Zelezny says he will comply with the ruling. But he warned at a press conference on Tuesday that money that he is due to receive from CME for shares in his company, as ordered by the arbitration court, should correspond to their true value, or he will file charges. A lawyer for CME described the case as complicated, but said that it was not yet over, as more legal issues between the two companies have yet to be resolved.

WHO: Czechs 2nd worst in Europe for teenage drug abuse

According to a new report compiled by the World Health Organisation, the abuse of alcohol and drugs by teenagers in many countries in Europe has gone up dramatically in the past five years. One of the countries worst affected is the Czech Republic, where the number of schoolchildren experimenting with drugs increased by a third by 1999, with 35 percent of Czech teenagers admitting to drug use, compared to 23 percent in 1995. The main reason for the rise was a large increase in the number of children in the Czech Republic who have used cannabis. Overall, the report ranks the Czech Republic the second worst country in Europe for teenage drug abuse, just one percentage point behind Great Britain.

Zeman: fighter planes necessary for Czech armed forces

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has rejected statements allegedly made by senior NATO officials calling into question the purchase of supersonic jets for the Czech armed forces. The prime minister's statement came following remarks from NATO general secretary George Robertson, who is due in Prague on Wednesday for talks with leading Czech officials, that the purchase of up to 36 supersonic jet fighter planes for the Czech armed forces would be unnecessary and expensive. In an interview on the radio station Frekvence 1, the prime minister referred to a letter he had received from British Prime Minister Tony Blair a year ago, recommending the Czechs purchase planes manufactured by a British-Swedish consortium, saying that this confirmed to him that there were parties who felt the Czech Republic should buy these fighter planes.

EC: Schengen agreement in force from 2005 at the earliest

The European Commission has announced that the free movement of people will begin in a new expanded European Union in 2005 at the earliest. The European Commission officially informed the Czech Republic of this on Thursday, saying that the Schengen agreement, which affects the free movement of labour within the EU, could affect new members from 2005. The first wave of new members which is expected to join the EU before the European Parliamentary elections in 2004. The Czech government has decided not to take any action on this information until it receives information from the European Commission concerning the way in which the Schengen agreement will be expanded.

Havel's condition improving

President Vaclav Havel, who has been in hospital since early last week with bronchitis and mild pneumonia, has apparently begun to show signs of recovering. The president had to cut short a trip to the Middle East last week after falling ill. He had shown signs of recovering, and was due to be released from hospital on Monday. But his condition worsened over the weekend, and his release date was moved back by a week. President Havel is now apparently undergoing breathing exercises, and should be well enough to receive NATO general secretary, George Robertson, on Wednesday.

Four Party Coalition has ten point lead in polls

According to the latest public opinion poll, the Four Party Coalition, a grouping of four smaller centre-right opposition parties, are currently the most popular Czech political movement, with support of almost thirty percent. The next party behind the Four Party Coalition, the Civic Democrats, currently the main opposition party, received support of eighteen percent, while the governing Social Democrats are slightly behind them with just under eighteen percent. The Four Party Coalition has performed well in opinion polls in recent months, and scored significant gains in regional and Senate elections late last year. According to the poll, the number of people who would actually vote in general elections, has gone up from 50 to 60 percent.

And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast. Thursday should bring overcast skies, with fog in places and scattered rain or snow showers. Daytime high temperatures could reach five degrees Celsius. Night-time lows on Wednesday are expected to drop to minus two degrees Celsius.