News Saturday, NOVEMBER 20th, 1999

OSCE summit produces conventional arms control treaty The Czech Republic is one of thirty states which on Friday signed a new conventional arms control treaty at the OSCE summit in Istanbul. The treaty, which sets ceilings on five major weapons categories on a country-by-country basis , is designed to remove the risk of a surprise attack from the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains. According to military experts it should also make it easier for NATO to enlarge into Central and Eastern Europe. Much of the two day summit was devoted to the situation in Chechnya, creating considerable friction between Russia and the other participants. In his address to the gathering President Havel said the international community should try to strengthen the weight of its words, formulated in various resolutions and agreements, pointing out that during the communist era in this part of the world the insistence of the West that communist governments adhere to treaties they had signed had been of great significance in defending human rights. President Havel created a stir by arriving flanked by the leaders of the Serbian opposition Vuko Drazkovic and Zoran Dzindzich whom he invited to be part of the Czech delegation to the OSCE summit.

Czech foreign ministry says Russian protest note is unwarranted The Czech foreign ministry has rejected as unwarranted a protest note from Russia over the reception afforded to Chechen foreign minister Ilja Achmadov in Prague recently. Achmadov, who was here at the invitation of the People in Distress Foundation met briefly with Czech foreign ministry officials. A Czech foreign ministry spokesman pointed out that Achmadov was an official Chechen representative appointed by Chechnya's president, not some kind of terrorist, and that his reception in Prague had in no way violated diplomatic norms or cast doubt on Russia's territorial integrity. Michal Zantovsky, chairman of the Senate's foreign affairs committee has also expressed surprise over the threatening tone on which the protest note ended, suggesting that the Czech Republic would bear the consequences in bilateral relations. It would be well for Russia to remember that we are now a sovereign state, Zantovsky said.

Political negotiations on possible government change shelved Negotiations on a possible change of government which have been dragging for over a month now have been shelved until after the annual December conference of the main opposition party – the centre-right Civic Democrats. This party's considerable influence on the Czech political scene is documented by the fact that Premier Milos Zeman has also announced he is postponing a planned cabinet reshuffle until after the Civic Democratic Party's conference. We will have to wait and see whether the Civic Democratic party will give us continued support or violate the opposition agreement, the premier pointed out. The minority government of the Social Democrats has been dependent on the Civic Democratic party since taking office, which has greatly reduced its action capability.

And finally a look at the weather : we can expect a weekend of overcast skies and occasional snow showers. Nighttime temps between minus three and minus seven degrees. Day temps between minus two and plus two degs C.