News Saturday, APRIL 29th, 2000

Prime Ministers meet in Poland

The prime ministers of Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia on Friday gathered in the historic town of Gniezno, Poland, where they signed a declaration on their commitment to a united Europe. In the so-called Gniezno Declaration they commit themselves to combating nationalism, racism, xenophobia and totalitarian ideologies with the aim of creating a Europe of free societies living in security and welfare. The signatories also pledge to respect cultural differences, national traditions and regional characteristics in Europe. The meeting was part of a series of ceremonies marking the 1,000th anniversary of the recognition of the first Polish state.

British official visits Prague

The British Lord Chancellor Irvin of Lairg ,who is on a four day visit to the Czech Republic, has met with leading Czech representatives to debate the reform and workings of the Czech justice system . He was said to have been particularly interested in the training of staff for court administration. Following criticism from Brussles the Czech Republic has picked up the pace of reform in the judiciary sphere but the courts are still clogged up by hundreds of cases many of them relating to grievances dating back to the communist era.

Oil-Guzzler and Green Pearl prizes awarded

Czech environmentalists have announced the winners of the Oil Guzzler and Green Pearl awards – for the most environmentally damaging action and statement. This year's Oil Guzzler Prize went to Civic Democratic Party MP Jiri Drda who, among other things, strove to increase the number of garbage imports from neighbouring states to be incinerated in the Czech Republic. The Green Pearl Award for Worst Statement went to the Mayor of Jindrichuv Hradek Lukas Mikulecky who said that the well-preserved environment in his region was a curse – implying that the numerous restrictions put off investors. The Oil Guzzler runners up were industry minister Miroslav Gregr for his fervent defense of the Temelin nuclear power plant and Prague mayor Zdenek Kovarik for successfully eliminating a vast amount of greenery in his district.

No word yet on who will head the Intelligence Service

There is as yet no official decision on which Cabinet minister will oversee the work of the Czech Intelligence Service. Originally it was the Minister without Portfolio who was in charge, but in the course of the recent Cabinet reshuffle the Prime Minister decided to relegate that responsibility to a different Cabinet post. A foreign ministry spokesman has rejected the assumption that the responsibility would go to the Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan, saying that Kavan had only been assigned to oversee the planned merger of the two Intelligence Services.

Not many Internet users in the Czech Republic

According to the outcome of a public survey 84% of adult Czechs have no experience with the Internet. 16% of Czechs have come into brief contact with it, and only 6% of the population use it daily or several times a week.

And finally a quick look at the weather: The weekend should bring some cloudy skies and possibly afternoon thunderstorms but day temperatures are expected to remain unusually high for this time of year between 22 and 26 degs C.