News Sunday, SEPTEMBER 19th, 1999

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Nick Carey and this is the news. First, a look at the headlines.

Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail:

Havel completes official visit to Slovakia

President Vaclav Havel completed a two day official visit to Slovakia today. On Friday he met the Slovak prime minister Mikulas Dzruinda, and after the meeting both sides were positive that ongoing property disputes between the Czechs and the Slovaks left over from the split of Czechoslovakia at the end of 1992, could be resolved. Dzurinda stated that he sees a great and realistic hope that this process could be completed by the end of the year. Both Havel and Dzurinda stopped short of discussing any details, saying that it was premature to do so. Havel also met with Slovak president Rudolf Schuster, who presented him with the Adalbert Prize for his work as a dissident and for humanitarian causes. Havel is the fifth person so far to receive this award, given out by Germany's Adalbert Foundation. During the ceremony, Schuster reminded Havel of his own words in 1995 when he said that the Adalbert Prize has almost the same significance as the Nobel Prize. This is Havel's fist state visit to Slovakia, and signals a continued thaw in relations following former Slovak prime minister's Valdimir Meciar's defeat in elections last year.

Deputy Foreign Minister to visit Great Britain

Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Palous will visit Great Britain this week and meet with representatives of the British authorities concerning the continued exodus of Czech Roma into Great Britain. Palous will also meet with the members of parliament from constituencies in Britain that have the highest numbers of Roma refugees. The main reason for the visit, which is Palous' second, is to try to avert the threat of visa restrictions being introduced against the Czech Republic due to large numbers of Czech Roma seeking asylum in Britain. Last week Britain's ambassador in Prague, David Boucher warned that the situation was serious, and that visa restrictions could not be ruled out.

Petition handed to government protesting gay partnership law

A hundred petitions containing a total of fifty seven thousand signatures have been handed to parliament to oppose the proposed gay partnership law. This law would grant homosexual partnerships many of the same basic rights that heterosexual marriages have, and is due to be debated in house of deputies again in October. In comparison, there were only two petitions handed in in favour of the proposed law, which contained a combined total of just over two thousand signatures. The proposed law has been fiercely debated several times in parliament now, and failed to pass in 1998. The house of deputies is apparently split fifty-fifty between opponents and supporters of the new law.

Gregr says that many of Temelin's problems have been resolved

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Miroslav Gregr, has stated that almost all of the problems faced in the building of the Temelin nuclear power station have been removed. Gregr visited the power station, which has been the centre of much debate and controversy over the past decade due to increasing budgets, massive time delays and opposition groups, on Friday. He emphasised that the majority of the problems had been solved by the American company Westinghouse, which is supplying automation technology and other equipment. The minister stated that the first block will be completed by the end of the year, and the second block should also be finished on time. If the work on the power station had been carried out at today's rate, Gregr pointed out, it would have been completed four years ago.

Cesky Mobil currently in first place for mobile license

The management committee in charge of examining the bids from participants in the public tender for the third mobile phone operator in the Czech Republic, have selected Cesky Mobil as their first choice. Cesky mobil is a consortium that includes the Canadian telecommunications company TIW and IPB Banka. The committee's main reason for recommending this operator is its proposed pricing policy, which would lower costs for consumers by up to forty percent, as opposed to the twenty five percent proposed by the other participants in the tender. The Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, Antonin Peltram, will decide on the winner of the tender on Monday, and the name of the new operator should be made public by the end of the month.

And finally the weather. The weather on Sunday will be partially cloudy, with the possibility of scattered rain showers. Temperatures, should reach a maximum of twenty four degrees centigrade. And that was the news.