News Sunday, JANUARY 09th, 2000

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Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Jana Kotalik. We begin as usual with a look at the main news headlines:

Those were the headlines. Now the news in more detail:

CZECH - GOVERNMENT - TALKS

The two largest Czech parties failed on Friday to reach a deal on the future of Prime Minister Milos Zeman´s minority Social Democrat government but agreed to continue talks next week. The centre-right oppoistion Civic Democrats under the leadership of Vaclav Klaus have said that major cabinet changes are necessary to win approval of the 2000 budget after two previous failures in parliament. Party leaders remained vague about the content of the discussions. Leader of the Social Democrats and Czech Prime Minister Zeman said only that both parties demonstrated will to solve the political situation in the country. Civic Democrat leader Klaus told reporters that topics under discussion included the budget and the replacement of certain ministers, and that some progress was made. The negotiations known as ´´reconciliation talks´´ were provided for by the 16-month old opposition agreement - a pact between the two parties which has kept the minority Social Democrat government in power since July 1998. The meetings will continue next week, with some analysts predicting that a deal will eventually be struck allowing Zeman´s administration to survive with a cabinet reshuffle and some concessions for the opposition Civic Democrats.

CZECH - CIVIC ASSOCIATION FORMED

Around 50 signatories of the ´´´Thank you, now get out´´ petition have met in Prague to discuss the statutes, organization and finances of a new civic association to be formed under the same name. The ´´Thank you, now get out´´ appeal was written up two months ago by former student activists of the 1989 Velvet Revolution, and calls for the resignation of many of the country´s top politicians, as well as early elections, and the cancellation of the opposition agreement between the country´s two largest parties. The petition has since been signed by around 200, 000 Czech citizens. The decision to form a civic association came after much debate among the authors of the appeal, some arguing it would be more productive to form a new political party.

CZECH - COMMUNICATIONS

Czech Telecom has signed a contract with the firm Cesky Mobil bringing into effect the services of a third mobile phone operator in the Czech Republic. The contract will allow users of Czech Telecom to call the Cesky Mobil network and vice versa, with a full range of services expected to be introduced in March 2000. Users of the two competing providers EuroTel and Paegas will also be able to call users of Cesky Mobil, via Czech Telecom. Cesky Mobil which is majority-owned by a Canadian company, received its operating license for the Czech Republic two months ago.

CZECH - NATO EXERCISES

A Czech helicopter unit is scheduled to travel to the Norwegian North Pole on Monday for training in extreme weather conditions for NATO´s rapid reaction force. The Czech team from Prerov will join NATO colleagues from the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany in the international training program. Off to the North Pole is a team numbering several dozen, including ten pilots, as along with vehicles and two Mi-17 helicopters. The head of the military base in Prerov told the Czech News Agency that the training in Norway is aimed at testing the logistical support of the unit as well as the endurance of the teams, which will face temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius.

WEATHER

And finally we end with a brief look at the weather here in the Czech Republic. For Sunday we expect mainly cloudy skies with the possibility of light snow and fog in some areas. Daytime temperatures should be between minus two and plus three degrees Celsius, dropping to as low as minus six overnight.