News Thursday, JULY 08th, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I´m Rob Cameron, first a look at the news headlines

Those were the headlines, now for the news in more detail.

Schuster calls on Prague, Bratislava to join forces to stop Roma emigration

Slovakia´s new president Rudolf Schuster has called for his country to join forces with the Czech Republic to address problems facing the Roma or gypsy minority. Mr Schuster presented the proposal to his Czech counterpart Vaclav Havel at a meeting in Prague on Wednesday. Mr Schuster´s call came as Finland announced it was introducing visas for Slovak citizens in the wake of a large influx of Roma asylum seekers. Canada, Britain and Ireland reimposed visas for Slovaks last year after hundreds of Slovak Romanies began arriving to seek asylum. The Roma say they are subject to sweeping discrimination by the authorities in Slovakia as well as frequent violent attacks by skinheads. The Slovak authorities say they are mostly economic migrants and that moves are being taken to improve conditions for the Roma community. There have been similar waves of emigration to the three countries by Romanies from the Czech Republic, which led Canada to reimpose visas for Czechs last year. Mr Schuster later met the Czech Premier Milos Zeman for talks on European integration and the dispute over former federal property.

Journalists reply to Zeman attack

Representatives of the Czech media have sent an open letter to Premier Milos Zeman, in response to an interview in which he described the majority of journalists in the country as "amateurs and liars". Speaking in an interview for Czech Radio on Tuesday, Zeman said that the intellectual level of most journalists in the country was that of schools for mentally retarded children. The letter was initiated by journalists working for the country´s public television corporation Czech Television, but was also signed by representatives of the commercial TV station Nova. In it they warn the premier that his constant attacks will not change their coverage of his government. Tuesday´s comments came a week after Mr Zeman accused a number of journalists of taking bribes. The Czech premier was unable, however, to produce any evidence to confirm the allegations.

Chamber of Deputies approves press bill

Meanwhile the Czech lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, has passed a controversial new media bill in the first reading. The bill has been widely criticised by the country's newspapers, in particular due to a provision which would give people the right to reply to all information published about them, even if the information was not false or misleading.

Government approves plans to improve integration of foreigners

The government has approved recommendations to improve the integration of foreigners living in the Czech Republic. The Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich told journalists that the new policies would help develop relations between foreign communities and majority society, ensure the rights of immigrants and limit illegal migration. Mr Grulich said the policies would be based on the principles of the Council of Europe and the European Union.

Sudeten Germans to fight for compensation in US courts

The largest organisation representing Sudeten German expellees, the Landsmannschaft, has called on its members to file mass claims for compensation in the United States. Two and half million Sudeten Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia under the 1945 Benes decrees. They and their descendants have since been lobbying for compensation for property seized by the Czechoslovak authorities after the war. The Czech Republic and Germany signed a declaration in 1997 on the future of relations between the two countries, but the agreement carefully avoided any mention of individual compensation for Sudeten German expellees. The Landsmannschaft says the claims should be filed in the United States because the American legal system is more suited to mass compensation cases.

Man hit by flying dustbin during hailstorm

Almost a dozen villages in the Plzen area of West Bohemia were still without electricity on Wednesday evening following the severe hailstorms that the region on Tuesday. A number of high-voltage pylons were brought down in the storms, which also caused extensive damage to windows and roofs. There were no injuries in the storms, except for one man from Plzen who was reportedly struck by a flying dustbin.


As for today´s weather, temperatures are set to drop sharply after the tropical bank holiday weekend here in the Czech Republic with clouds and rain forecast for much of the country. Daytime temperatures will range between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius, falling to a low of eleven degrees tonight.

And that´s the end of the news.