News Thursday, JANUARY 07th, 1999

Those were the main points, and now the news in full read by AS.

Fisher in Prague

German Foreign minister Joschka Fisher visited Prague to meet with top Czech politicians. Fisher held talks with his Czech counterpart Jan Kavan, premier Milos Zeman and Speaker of parliament Vaclav Klaus mainly about eastward EU expansion. According to Fisher and Kavan the Czech - German relations are "more open and more intensive" now than they were under the previous government of Helmut Kohl. The two ministers have also praised the process of implementation of the Czech-German declaration signed back in 1997. Talking to premier Milos Zeman, Joschka Fisher reiterated that his government wants to build mutual relations which would not be dampened by the past. In addition to the EU issues, other topics discussed included NATO enlargement and the flow of refugees to Germany from the Czech Republic.

Czech government - Telecom

The Czech government welcomes the Dutch cabinet's intention to help in looking into the circumstances under which the Czech telecomunications monopoly, SPT Telecom was privatized back in 1995. Czech premier Milos Zeman has told Czech radio that his government discussed the sale of the state's stakes in Telecom at one of its sessions last December. Back then, it entrusted the Committee for the protection of Economic Interests to look into the case and gather all necessary information till next June, when Telecom's regular general assembly will take place. Vaclav Klaus, chairman of the Civic Democrats, whose government was responsible for the controversial privatization has said that in his view all the moves were legal and described Telecom's privatization as successfull.

Telecom - bribery

A civic association which calls itself Citizens against higher telephone rates has urged the Czech cabinet to help with a consistent and uncompromising investigation of allegations of corruption surrounding the Czech telecommunications monopoly SPT Telecom. The association's leadership has also voiced the opinion that deliberate miscalculations by Finance ministry officials responsible for telecommunications played a part in the higher rates that Czechs will have to pay for telephone services as of this year.

Four-party coalition - majority cabinet

The present political situation, and its future prospects on the Czech political scene were the main topics addressed on Wednesday at a conference of a right-wing four-party coalition. Chairmen and deputy chairmen of the Christian democrats, the Freedom Union, the Democratic Union and the Civic democratic alliance also discussed the possible formation of a majority government. Acting chairman of the Christian democrats Jan Kasal told Czech radio on Wednesday that our country deserves a majority, non-communist and pro-European government, but due to an opposition agreement between the opposition Civic democratic party and the ruling Social democrats such a cabinet cannot be formed now. However, the coalition will start negotiations with both the Civic and Social democrats on forming a majority cabinet if efforts to pursue a modern economic policy will be made.