News Saturday, OCTOBER 31st, 1998

Radio Prague -E-news date: October 30th, 1998

Top-level state employees are to be stripped of their 14th salaries in solidarity with the rest of that sector

Radio Free Europe is launching its broadcasts to Iran and Iraq from the Czech capital

Many towns and villages in the western and eastern part of Bohemia remain on flood alert, although water levels of rivers threatening to burst their banks are now said to be receding

Welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Daniela Lazarova. Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail

No more fat bonuses

Lower House deputies, senators, judges and state attorneys are to loose their yearly X-mas bonuses, the so called 14th salary, as a result of an amendment passed by the Lower House today. This was done in solidarity with the thousands of lower-level state employees whose summer and winter bonuses were severely cut back in line with the government's tight fiscal policy.

RFE/RL now heard in Iraq,Iran

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is launching its broadcasts to Iraq and Iran from the Czech capital today. Jan Oberman, the station's administrative director, told the media that the security measures taken were adequate but he refused to say whether the new services were housed at the station's headquarters in the centre of the city. Radio Free Europe is launching these two new services with 30 minute daily transmissions.

Floods may be averted

Many towns and villages in the western and eastern part of Bohemia remain on flood alert although water levels of rivers threatening to burst their banks are now said to be receding. Unfortunately more rain has been forecast for the next two days and the danger is far from over. While people are watching the skies with concern, the Lower House has approved an amendment to the law on natural disasters which will enable more funds to be used for reconstruction work on property damaged in this year's spring floods.

EU -accession work

The Czech Republic's chief coordinator at EU headquarters in Brussels Pavel Telicka has urged the government to step up work on reconstructing the judicial system. Telicka said that if the 2003 deadline for EU entry is to remain at all realistic, the government would have to bring forward the reconstruction of the judicial system. The EU does not merely require a change of legislation - it wants to see these laws applied in practice and that takes some time, the Czech envoy pointed out.

EU turns down invitation to assess Temelin

Meanwhile, in a related development, the EU has refused to be represented in an independent commission of experts which is to assess the advantages and disadvantages of completing the Temelin nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia. European Commission president Jacques Santer allegedly sent the Czech government a letter stating that it would not be suitable for the EU to be involved in this dispute at a time when EU accession talks are taking place.

Fire at agriculture ministry

A fire is reported to have broken out at the agriculture ministry on Friday morning. According to the ctk newsagency the building had to be evacuated but despite thick smoke filling some corridors there were no injuries. A faulty circuit is believed to have caused the fire.

Finally, a look at the weather: the weekend is expected to be cold and wet with snow showers in the higher altitudes. Day temps between 5 and 9 degs C. Nighttime temps are expected to dip below freezing point.