News Saturday, MARCH 11th, 2000

Now the news in more detail.

PM Zeman announces "last changes" in cabinet

The Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, has said the changes he announced in his cabinet will probably be the last ones before the end of his government´s term of office. Mr. Zeman said that the ministers of the interior, transport, and regional development would leave their posts within a month - as well as Minister Without Portfolio Jaroslav Basta, responsible for the Clean Hands anti-corruption drive. The main opposition Civic Democrats, which keep the ruling Social Democrats in power, have long pushed for the dismissals and said they were not surprised by them. However, premier Zeman has again rejected their calls for the dismissal of the Finance Minister, Pavel Mertlik, calling him one of his best ministers.

Floods continue

The outgoing Interior Minister, Vaclav Grulich, received applause in Parliament after informing deputies of efforts to combat serious flooding in north-eastern Bohemia. He said the lessons of previous years had been learnt and that everything was being done to save lives and reduce material damage. Two people have died and hundreds evacuated due to the floods.

One year in NATO

President Vaclav Havel has praised the participation of Czech troops in various international missions over recent years, at a ceremony marking the first anniversary of Czech accession to NATO. Mr. Havel said this had been an important element in the country´s bid to join the alliance, and thanked all those who had taken part. Meanwhile, an opinion poll released to mark the anniversary shows 49 percent of Czechs support membership - while 26 percent are opposed.

Allegations of political interference in Czech Television

Members of the supervisory board of Czech Television, who were dismissed from their posts by Parliament on Friday, have reacted by accusing politicians of seeking to meddle in broadcasting and undermine journalistic independence. The head of the dismissed board, Vladislav Kucik, said it was an unprecedented attempt to control television. However, politicians from the ruling Social Democrats and main opposition Civic Democrats rejected the allegations, saying they had not only the right but also the responsibility to intervene at the TV station - which in recent months has been riven by disputes over its future.

And that´s the end of the news.