News Thursday, JULY 02th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-news Date: 2.7.1998 Written/read by: David Vaughan

Hello and a warm welcome to the programme. I'm David Vaughan, and I'll start with a brief bulletin of news from the Czech Republic.

Nuclear Plant - Fresh Look

The Czech government has decided to set up an independent group of experts to reassess the completion of the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. Temelin, which combines former Soviet and American technologies, has already gone far over budget and its viability has been increasingly called into question. The environment minister, Martin Bursik, said that the team will focus on the economic aspects of the project rather than questions over its safety. The new analysis is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and ministers agreed that any final decision should be based on its findings. A small group of environmentalists on Wednesday staged a demonstration outside the Czech government headquarters to protest against the plant.

State Budget

The Czech state budget has leapt into the black, to the tune of nearly two billion crowns for the first six months of 1998. This is although the budget was six-point-seven billion crowns in the red at the end of May. A finance ministry spokesman explained the dramatic improvement by pointing to relatively high revenues from income tax, for which the deadline for businesses was the end of June.

Zeman Proposal

The Christian Democrat leader Josef Lux has said that his Social Democrat counterpart, Milos Zeman, is to announce today his latest proposal for setting up a coalition government between the two parties and the right-of-centre Freedom Union. He said that the announcement will follow Mr Zeman's planned meeting with Freedom Union leader, Jan Ruml. Mr Lux said that Mr Zeman is willing to make significant concessions to the Freedom Union, which has so far refused to consider such a coalition.

First Mosque

The Czech Republic has its first mosque. The head of the Czech Muslim community, Mohamed Ali Silhavy, said that the new building, in the Czech Republic's second city of Brno, means that Muslims in the Czech Republic no longer have to make do with rented spaces. The mosque, which was built from private finances, will also house a library. The Muslim population of the Czech Republic is estimated at around twenty thousand - mainly studenats and business people from Islamic countries, but they also include between four and five hundred Czech converts.

No Money for Czech Airlines

The Czech government has decided to go back on its plan to give Czech Airlines (CSA) a five hundred million crown boost from the proceeds of the National Property Fund, to help it reduce its debts. Transport Minister, Petr Moos, said that a streamlining package launched by CSA last year has proved so effective that the cabinet no longer feels the need to intervene. The state still holds a majority stake in CSA.

Romany Film Grant

The Fund for the Development of Czech Film has awarded a grant of 250 000 crowns - that's just under ten thousand US dollars - for a project to make a series of thirteen short films in the Romany language. The films will be made in cooperation with Czech Television and with further support from Canada, Austria and Slovakia. Apart from the fact that they will be in a language that in communist days was actively discouraged by the authorities, the films will also be unusual in combining animated passages about Romany history with documentary material from places where Romanies live today.

Concentration Camp Investigation

The bureau set up to look into the crimes of the communist regime has failed to find conclusive evidence against two Czech men associated with the Romany concentration camp set up during the wartime Nazi occupation in the Czech village of Lety. Thirteen hundred Romanies passed through the camp, and all but a tiny minority died either in the camp or later after being sent to Auschwitz. A spokesman from the bureau stressed that the findings do not mean that atrocities were not committed at the camp.

Havel Law

President Havel has given put his signature to a bill on inheriting and donating property. Under the new law direct heirs no longer have to pay any inheritance tax. Inheritance tax has also been dramatically reduced in cases of large scale disaster.

Weather

And I'll end with a quick look at the weather...

It's an overcast day today and we can expect showers and the occasional thunderstorm, with temperatures between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius. And we can expect the unsettled weather to continue.

And that's the end of the news.