News Saturday, MAY 19th, 2001

WWII slave labourers to receive compensations soon

The Czech negotiator for World War II compensation claims, Jiri Sitler, has said he expects payments to former slave labourers to begin within several weeks. Mr Sitler said the last obstacle had been removed by the latest US court ruling which struck down class action lawsuits against German firms. Former Nazi slave and forced labourers worldwide will be eligible for symbolic payments ranging from 5,000 to 15,000 German marks each under the programme. There are around 80,000 Czechs eligible to receive compensation.

Steel industry faces restructuring or slow death

The Czech government must approve a restructuring plan for the Czech steel industry by July 31 if it wants to complete the chapter on economic competition in accession negotiations with the EU. According to the countrys chief negotiator with the EU, Pavel Telicka, the plan must be based on a recent study by EuroStrategy Consultants which suggested that a merger of some of the largest steel mills into one company was the most feasible solution. Mr Telicka pointed out that the Czech Republic promised the European Commission it would restructure the steel industry several years ago and he stressed that the Czech Republic cannot afford any further delay in the harmonisation process.

Issue of state bonds postponed

The government has decided to withdraw its proposal to issue state bonds to cover this year's state budget deficit of 40 billion CZK. Finance minister Jiri Rusnok said the decision followed negative reactions from opposition parties. The proposal will be re-submitted to Parliament after further political negotiations, probably in the middle of the year.

Czechs and Slovaks to form joint KFOR unit

The Czech Republic and Slovakia have agreed to form a joint unit for the KFOR peace-keeping mission in Kosovo. Slovak defence minister Jozef Stank said NATO welcomed this initiative which could materialise at the beginning of next year. Czech soldiers should constitute two thirds of the unit with a corresponding share of the command.

Two grenades explode in house

Two hand grenades exploded in a house in the town of Frydek-Mistek, in Northern Moravia, on Friday. The house had allegedly been attacked in the past, but police had been unable to trace the assailants. Police arrested four people who were in the house at the time of the explosion. A police spokesman said inhabitants of the house had been under surveillance for some time over suspicion of criminal offences.

16-year old drunk-driving Czech caused accident in Austria

A 16-year old Czech caused a traffic accident in Austria, the Austrian police reported today. The boy was driving a car with no licence plates, and was reportedly drunk. His brother was seriously injured in the accident, the other two passenger fled the scene.

Czech industry interested in Turkey

Czech companies are strongly interested in participating in industrial projects in Turkey. Besides construction of energy facilities, Czech companies would like to take part in building transport infrastructure and oil and gas pipelines, as well as in other sectors, such as metal-working, textile and food industries. Czech industry and trade minister Miroslav Gregr is to negotiate on potential contracts with Turkish partners at the beginning of next week in Ankara.

Czech weather forecast

And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a relatively cold and cloudy day with scattered showers, with afternoon highs ranging from 12 to 16 degrees Celsius. Sunday should be a little warmer and sunnier. It should be partially cloudy with the highest daytime temperatures between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius.