News Saturday, OCTOBER 10th, 1998

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Ray Furlong, and we begin with a bulletin of news. First the headlines.

Now the news in more detail.


President Vaclav Havel and the Hungarian Foreign Minister, Janos Martonyi, have spoken of helping Slovakia on the path back towards European integration. The two men met briefly in Prague, where Martonyi is making a one-day visit devoted mainly to the question of European integration. Both he and Havel also called for a revitalisation of co-operation within the old Visegrad grouping, made up of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Earlier, Martonyi also discussed the situation in Kosovo with the Czech Defence Minister Vladimir Vetchy.


Martonyi's visit has also been marked by a row over the Czech government's decision to impose tariffs on imports of Hungarian wheat. Speaking after a meeting with his Czech counterpart Jan Kavan, he said the two countries had agreed to begin "immediate consultations" on the problem - and warned that Hungary was prepared to turn to the World Trade Organisation, the WTO, if no progress was made. Martonyi added that the tariffs are in breach of WTO regulations.


The Czech Republic has begun evacuating families of diplomats based in Belgrade, ahead of possible NATO air-strikes. Eleven Czech citizens, mostly children, crossed the border into Hungary. However, the embassy said it would continue to function as normal for the time being. Some NATO members, including Britain and the United States, have already began reducing embassy staff in Belgrade. Next week the Czech government is to discuss making a field hospital available to allied forces, in the event of military action against Yugoslavia.


The German company Siemens has asked the Association of Wartime Forced Labourers to prepare compensation claims. Karel Ruzicka, deputy chairman of the association, said around a thousand people could qualify for payments - after being forced to work for Siemens during World War Two. In total, about 600,000 Czechs were made to work as slaves in factories and mines all over the Third Reich. Ruzicka said his association had contacted a number of German companies seeking compensation, but that Siemens was the first to make a concrete reaction.


A new centre has opened in Prague for women who became victims of incest or other sexual abuse as children. The head of the centre, Jirina Dolanska, said it was the only one in the Czech Republic helping women from the length and breadth of the country. The centre is offering individual or group therapy, advice for partners or other family members, and also courses and seminars. Dolanska said sexual abuse was a problem which was still spoken about too little in Czech society.


And finally, the weekend weather in the Czech Republic - Saturday will be grey and cloudy, with scattered showers. This weather will get worse Saturday evening, as a cold front moves in from the West. Temperatures will range between 11 and 15 degrees celsius, falling to between nine and five degrees overnight. Sunday will be much the same, but maybe worse. And that far from bright weekend weather outlook brings us to the end of the news.