News Thursday, APRIL 20th, 2000

r_2100x1400_radio_praha.png

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik and here's the news.

CZECH-MINERS-STRIKE

Miners on an occupation strike in the Kohinoor brown coal shaft in northern Bohemia are adamant their demands have not been met and they will not end their three-week-old protest 12 hundred feet underground.

Their demands include selling their uneconomical mine to a private owner and the sacking of the whole management.

However, negotiations between the MUS mining company which owns the shaft and a private contender have collapsed. MUS now says it will not sell and has ordered the miners to resurface by Friday afternoon or face legal consequences.

CZECH-ZIMBABWE-CONCERN

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed deep concern over the situation in Zimbabwe and is preparing shortly to release a diplomatic statement.

The Foreign Minister, Mr. Jan Kavan, said on Wednesday his office will react after a thorough evaluation of all details of violence against white farmers in the southern African country.

For weeks now, independence war veterans supported by the government of President Robert Mugabe have continued to occupy white-owned farms. Several white farmers have been killed.

The Czech foreign minister said his country, which put forward a UN resolution condemning human rights violations in Cuba, was resolved to criticise lawlessness and violence wherever they happen, and not just in the countries which neighbour on the United States -- the Czechs' NATO ally.

CZECH-CUBA

Meanwhile, Havana has lambasted the Czech Republic for the Prague-led UN censure over human rights, pouring scorn on President Vaclav Havel as a mediocre counter-revolutionary.

In a five-hour round-table discussion live on state television, officials and state journalists also accused Czech diplomats of fomenting subversion on communist-run Cuba in support of U.S. efforts to destabilise President Fidel Castro's government. The television described Czech diplomats in Havana and the dissidents they are allegedly in league with as lackeys and agents of the United States.

CZECH-GERMANY-SLAVE

Foreign Minister Jan Kavan says that for all the good progress in compensating World War Two slave labourers by Germany, it is vital to stress that the Czech Republic's admission into the EU must not be made conditional on cancelling the decrees under which hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans were deported from Czechoslovakia after the war.

Mr. Kavan was speaking on Wednesday at a rally where wartime Czech political prisoners paid tribute to 50,000 victims of the Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp.

The expulsion decrees, signed after the war by Czechoslovak President Edvard Benes, are still a hurdle in relations between Sudeten Germans and the Czech Republic. The demand that they be declared null and void has been lately communicated to Prague by the expellees' union chairman Bernd Posselt and Christian Democrat MP Hartmut Nassauer.

CZECH-EU-ENLARGEMENT

The EU's commissioner for enlargement Guenter Verheugen says the European Union is determined that the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary should be among the first new countries to join the bloc.

Mr. Verheugen on Wednesday said in Brussels he believed the EU's first eastward expansion would take place in groups, rather than one country at a time, and that the four Central European countries of the so-called Visegrad Group, which also includes Slovakia, would have priority.

CZECH-GOVT-RESHUFFLE

The long-drawn-out government reshuffle conducted by the Czech Social Democrat Prime Minister Milos Zeman might be over in one week from now, with the ministers of transport and regional development losing their posts.

President Vaclav Havel, now vacationing in Italy, has accepted the premier's proposal to replace the two men and intends to relieve the ministers Antonin Peltram and Jaromir Cisar of their duties next Wednesday.

The reshuffle is part of a deal between the ruling Social Democrats and the main opposition Civic Democrats, which enabled Prime Minister Zeman to form a minority cabinet after an inconclusive election almost two years ago.

CZECH-ETHNIC-REPORT

The Czech government's human rights commissioner Petr Uhl says the situation of the Roma community has not changed dramatically over the past few years.

Mr. Uhl said in a report to the government that racist and skinhead attacks against Romanies had continued, and Roma job applicants had continued to be discriminated against. The realistic estimate is that unemployment among the Roma community is almost 80 percent, caused largely by lack of education and motivation.

CZECH-INTERIOR-EXTREMIST

The Czech Ministry of the Interior has refused to register a new political party formed by the ultra- right National Alliance, whose leader is in detention on the suspicion that he has propagated fascist ideology. The leader, Vladimir Skoupy, has publicly denied the existence of the Holocaust and Nazi gas chambers.

The Interior Minister Stanislav Gross says the refusal comes in the wake of a government report on extremist groups and political parties.

CZECH-GERMANY-EXTRADITION

Police in Germany have extradited a fraudulent Tunisian businessman to the Czech authorities. The detainee, Mr. Qays Hanafi, owner of a bankrupt travel agency, has collected at least 15 million crowns from clients wishing to spend a package-tour holiday in Tunisia. But scores of people were stranded at Ostrava Airport in northern Moravia on the day of departure. There was no flight reserved for them.

CZECH-WEATHER

And we end as usual with a quick look at the weather.

Thursday will be a warm but rather wet day here in the Czech Republic, with scattered showers and thunderstorms and maximum daytime temperatures between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius, dropping to between five and nine degrees in the night.

Friday and Saturday will both be warm and wet, with daytime highs between 21 and 25 Celsius on both days.

I'm Libor Kubik and that's the news.