News Sunday, JANUARY 30th, 2000

UN Human Rights Commissioner urges Croatian government to act UN Human Rights Commissioner to the states of the former Yugoslavia Jiri Dienstbier has called on the newly elected Croatian government to loose no time in effecting democratic changes in the country. He said the international community expected to see a return of freedom of the press, better cooperation with international courts and institutions and administrative measures which would enable a gradual repatriation of Serb refugees. The parliamentary elections of January 3rd, which produced a centre-left coalition, have been seen as the first step towards a renewal of the political system in Croatia following the death last month of the late president Franjo Tudjman.

Communists make a bid for voter sympathy Communist Party leader Miroslav Grebenicek on Saturday launched a scathing attack against the governing Social Democrats, telling the Central Committee that the strengthening of the power-sharing pact with the right-of-centre Civic Democrats had been a shameful betrayal of all the Social Democratic Party stood for. " They exchanged election promises for power" Grebenicek said and urged his own party to make a bid for the sympathies of all betrayed voters. He said the main goal for the Communist Party now was to "win the sympathy of the vast majority of Czechs" and then set about implementing its own policy programme. To this effect, he said, not a haller was to be spared in the upcoming campaign for regional and Senate elections.

Klaus slams "socialist dreamers" in Davos Meanwhile, at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos, Civic Democratic Party leader Vaclav Klaus slammed politicians and economists advocating the so-called "middle road", which he said was nothing more than a socialist ideology under a false label. This phenomenon , mr. Klaus said was present in international politics as well, giving birth to ideas such as the artificial unification of Europe, plans for mammoth international institutions with dubious powers and attempts to introduce a single currency and jurisdiction . The proponents of this rosy future advocate direct democracy and the role of an intellectual elite which will create a new better world order in which peace and love will triumph – but this is all a big myth, a socialist's dream that is unrealizable, mr. Klaus told his audience in Davos .

Constitutional changes may hit the rocks in the Senate There are signals that the constitutional changes narrowing the powers of the President which were approved in the Lower House of Parliament on Friday may hit the rocks in the Senate. The proponents of the proposed constitutional changes – the Civic and Social Democrats – will be one voice short in the Upper Chamber and according to the Deputy-Chairman of the Senate, mr. Petr Pithart , not all of the Civic and Social Democrat senators are fully behind this bill. "There are doubts even in their ranks, Pithart told the CTK newsagency, and it is my belief that the bill will be rejected". The alliance of four centre-right parties in the Senate is strongly against the proposed changes and the communists have not so far promised to support them.

President urges politicians not to court the media's favour President Havel has pronounced himself to be disturbed by the enormous power wielded by the media. In one of his laid-back Saturday interviews for Czech Radio, the president said the power wielded by journalists was a double edged sword. On the one hand, mr. Havel said, the media's watchdog role was of immense importance, on the other, they clearly had the power to make or break a politician. I have seen presidents – presidents elected by direct vote, by the entire nation, trying to win favour in the eyes of a TV anchor who has only his good looks and well modulated voice to thank for the job. It is at times such as those when I wonder whether such power is healthy, the Czech president noted.

Finally a look at the weather : Sunday is expected to bring cloudy skies and scattered rain or sleet showers. Snow in the higher altitudes. Day temp between two and six degs. C. Nighttime lows should dip slightly below freezing point. 18hrs UTC