News Saturday, JUNE 10th, 2000

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Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik, and we start the program with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines:

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

CZECH-VISEGRAD-FUND

The prime ministers of the four central European countries which form the so-called Visegrad Group have signed an agreement to set up a joint fund in support of joint cultural projects.

The agreement was signed at Stirin Castle outside Prague on Friday. All four states agreed to share equally in the first deposit to the tune of one million euros. They said the secretariat of the fund would be in Bratislava and its executive director would be a Slovak.

The Visegrad Group consists of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

CZECH-HAVEL-HEALTH

Czech President Vaclav Havel is recovering well from a hernia surgery he underwent earlier in the week. His doctors said on Friday he had been moved out of intensive care.

The 63-year-old Czech president suffered from a build-up of congestion in his respiratory tract that caused him breathing problems on Tuesday, but his doctor Ilja Kotik said on Friday that the problem had abated.

Doctors have expressed concern that Mr. Havel's chronically weak respiratory system would put him at risk for a few days following Monday's surgery, which was completed without complications.

The hernia, which he has endured for almost two years, emerged during an operation two years ago.

CZECH-US-UK-YUGOSLAVIA

The Czech Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Jiri Sedivy on Friday handed over NATO medals for distinguished service to peace and freedom to members of the Czech military contingent serving on the KFOR mission in Kosovo.

Mr. Sedivy was accompanied on his trip by the British and U.S. ambassadors to Prague, David Broucher and John Shattuck. The Czech peacekeepers in Kosovo serve under a multinational British command.

CZECH-INTERIOR-IMF-FEARS

The Czech Interior Minister Stanislav Gross admitted on Friday that he fears the identity of security officers could be revealed and children could be used as human shields by protesters during September's meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Prague.

He told a press conference that the names of riot police officers could be derived from their identification tags and published on the internet.

Some latest reports suggest that children are being recruited to serve as human shields for anti- globalization protesters. Our correspondent says that up to 20,000 opponents of globalization from across Europe could converge upon Prague for the IMF/World Bank session.

CZECH-GERMAN-WAR-EXPULSION

Members of parliament for the German CDU-CSU coalition on Friday threw their weight in support of demands for nullifying the so-called Benes Decrees, under which hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II.

The coalition's expert on refugees Hartmut Koschyk renewed his demands for dialogue between the German expellees and the Czech government. However, he at the same time praised reconciliation efforts underway in the Czech Republic and Poland.

CZECH-JEWISH-PROTEST

The Czech insurance company, Ceska Pojistovna, has condemned Thursday's incident in which a group of Belgian Jews briefly occupied the site of a former Jewish burial ground in Prague in protest against plans to use the site for a new office complex.

Ceska Pojistovna's spokesman Michal Urban on Friday described the incident as unprecedented.

The nine Jewish protesters left the fenced-off site in central Prague after several hours, watched by police.

The medieval burial ground was discovered by builders digging foundations for the office block. Construction has been opposed by Jewish groups throughout the world, who say the site is sacred and cannot be disturbed. However, the Czech Jewish community has negotiated a compromise solution with the insurance company and the Ministry of Culture.

CZECH-WEATHER

On Saturday, warm southern air will continue to pour into the Czech Republic. We expect a very warm day with afternoon highs between 27 and 31 degrees Celsius, dropping to between 14 and 18 degrees in the night.

On Sunday, a cold front from the west will bring along scattered showers and thunderstorms, and daytime temperatures between 26 and 30 degrees in Bohemia and between 28 and 32 degrees in Moravia and Silesia.

Monday's early morning lows between 14 and 18 Celsius, and it will be a wet day, again with frequent thunderstorms. Daytime highs between 22 and 25 degrees in Bohemia and between 25 and 29 Celsius in the eastern parts of the country.

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