News Saturday, SEPTEMBER 02th, 2000

By: Libor Kubik

Journalist guild slams PM over allegations

The Czech Syndicate of Journalists has sharply protested against Prime Minister Milos Zeman's allegations that a leading Czech newspaper is behind a smear campaign against the popular deputy chairwoman of the lower house, Petra Buzkova. The MLADA FRONTA DNES daily has carried excerpts from a defamatory document suggesting that Ms. Buzkova had contacts with the former communist secret police. The paper said these apparent fabrications had been planted by some of Prime Minister Zeman's top aides. The Prime Minister's office has filed a libel suit against the newspaper. But the Syndicate's committee on the protection of press freedom has charged in a statement that Mr. Zeman's move is but an evasive maneuvre, designed to distract public attention from actions that could undermine the country's democratic foundations.

EC says Czech-Austrian dispute over nuclear plant bilateral problem

The European Commission says Austria's protests against the Czech nuclear power plant in Temelin and Prague's reactions to them are an exclusively bilateral dispute into which EU bodies will not interfere for the time being. EC spokesman Jean-Christophe Filori has told the Brussels correspondent of the CTK news agency that the European Commission has limited its reaction to a general statement on its adherence to a high level of nuclear safety and repeated that there were no UN norms or regulations which it could impose. Meanwhile, the Czech state authority on nuclear safety has invited to Temelin Upper Austria's governor Josef Puehringer, a leading critic of the project. Mr. Puehringer has urged people in his province to show up en masse at Saturday's public protests against Temelin and a blockade of border crossings to manifest their opposition to putting the plant on line.

Prague to decide on fighter plane tender by end of September

The Prime Minister Milos Zeman has said his cabinet will decide by the end of the month whether to call a tender for the delivery of supersonic jets for the Czech Air Force. Speaking on a visit to Ostrava on Friday, the premier said very much would depend on what offset programs and privatisation investment the competing firms would offer. Four types of planes are being considered as a replacement for the Air Force's ageing Soviet-era jets. All four types, together with the brand-new Eurofighter, will take part in this weekend's Air Show in the east Bohemian city of Hradec Kralove. They are the U.S.-built F-16 and F-18, the French Mirage 2000, and the Anglo-Swedish Gripen.

Czech Republic, Israel lift customs duties on engineering goods

The Czech Republic and Israel have lifted all customs duties on each other's engineering exports. The Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade said on Friday that Israel had abolished the last remaining duties on Czech automobiles and some electro-engineering goods. Prague had lifted all customs duties on imports from Israel eight months ago. However, the ministry said that duties on agricultural products still remained in force. Czech firms export to Israel mainly cars, metallurgical products and glass. The chief imports are data-processing systems, telecommunications equipment, music instruments and recording media.

Czechs, Germans remember Nazi-destroyed village

Descendants of the people killed by the Nazis in the East Bohemian village of Lezaky, which was razed to the ground during World War Two, have met at the local memorial with a delegation of ethnic Germans from the Christian foundation Ackermann-Gemeinde. At this meeting of atonement, the German guests apologised to their Czech counterparts for the Nazi atrocities and presented them with a token financial contribution. Lezaky was burned down in 1942, shortly after the much better publicised razing of Lidice. Thirty-two villagers were killed, 11 were deported to concentration camps and Lezaky was razed. Unlike Lidice, Lezaky was never rebuilt.

Czech weather forecast

And finally, a look at the weather here in the Czech Republic.

Saturday will be a wet day with early morning lows between nine and 13 degrees Celsius and afternoon highs between 19 and 23 degrees, dropping to around 10 degrees at night.

Sunday's weather will confirm the prediction that the autumn will arrive earlier than usual. We expect scattered showers and daytime highs between 16 and 20 Celsius.

Monday marks the start of the new school year. After early morning lows of six to 10 degrees, the skies will be mostly cloudy and daytime temperatures will not exceed 18 degrees Celsius.