News Sunday, FEBRUARY 07th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Czech Rep. may introduce visas for Canadians

The Czech Republic will consider the introduction of entry visas for Canadians. Czech Foreign minister Jan Kavan said the situation when there was a visa requirement for Czech citizens but Canadians could travel to the Czech Republic freely, was not sustainable in the long run. Minister Kavan said that talks will be held about abolishing the entry visa requirement, but if Canada persists, the Czech Republic will adopt reciprocal measures. Canada reimposed an entry visa requirement on Czechs in 1997 after a wave of asylum seekers from the Czech Republic, the majority of them being of Roma origin. The Czech government did not retaliate at the time because it recognised that the fault was on the Czech side. But now, Czech officials claim that the situation improved, so there is no reason for this one-sided policy to continue.

Pressures to remove David strengthen

Pressures for removing health minister Ivan David have been strengthening among Social Democrats. Central Bohemian regional leader Jan Trgina told reporters that many party members were dissatified with David's performance and that there were better candidates for the post. He said the main objection being voiced is minister David's lack of communicative skills. Unfortunately, Trgina said, the minister will have to stay in office for another six months, because premier Zeman had promised not to replace members of his cabinet earlier than a year after the government was appointed.

Communists do not want to change party name

The Communist Party does not want to rename itself. Party leaders agreed that there is no need to do so, as this idea is being pushed forward from outside the party, and may be aimed at weakening its position. But President Havel as well as representatives of other political parties claim that if the Communist Party changes its name and denounces the crimes committed by the ruling party during the communist regime, they would be willing to recognize it as a respected political partner.

BIS must find informer - Kavan, Basta

Czech government officials agree that the intelligence service BIS should find the person who deconspired the identity of a British secret service agent based in Prague. In Foreign Minister Jan Kavan's opinion, if the Czech intelligence service fails to investigate the case, it will seriously damage its reputation. He said that the affair did not influence the Czech-British official relations but harmed the cooperation between the intelligence services.

Czech private TV NOVA reported on the identity, address and homosexual orientation of the British agent last Sunday. Minister Jaroslav Basta who is responsible for intelligence services, claims that by doing so, TV NOVA committed a crime. But NOVA director, Vladimir Zelezny, says his reporters received the information from a BIS senior official, which proves his disloyalty, and is an evidence of the intelligence service being totally corrupt.

Freedom Union accepts Havel's invitation

The opposition Freedom Union has accepted president Vaclav Havel's invitation for a meeting of representatives of the main political parties. Freedom Union leader Jan Ruml said he expected the meeting to help improve communication between the political parties. On the other hand, senior opposition Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus considers such a meeting as a non-standard event on the Czech political scene. Acting chairman of the Christian Democrats Jan Kasal agrees, and says president Havel must consider the current situation in the Czech Republic really serious to call the meeting.

Ski jumping-Czech World Cup event called off

High winds forced a World Cup ski jumping event in Harrachov, in the North of the Czech Republic, to be called off on Saturday. Depending on the weather, organisers said, it may be held on Sunday.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a mostly cloudy day with scattered snow showers, afternoon highs should range from one degree Celsius below zero to three above. Monday and Tuesday should be much the same, cloudy or partially cloudy with snow showers, with temperatures slightly below zero.

And that's the end of the news.