News Thursday, MAY 06th, 1999

Good morning and welcome to the programme. I'm Rob Cameron, first a look at the headlines.

And now for the news in more detail

Government approves new national plan for employment

The Czech government has approved a new national plan for employment. The decision comes in the wake of rising unemployment figures as the economy struggles to emerge from recession. The new plan proposes constant consultation with the unions, integration between ministries and reform in the educational sector to improve the quality of the Czech workforce.

Six humanitarian aid lorries leave Czech Republic for Albania

As refugees continue to flood into Albania from neighbouring Kosovo, six lorries left the Czech Republic on Wednesday bearing humanitarian aid. The aid is to be distributed to refugees currently being housed by Albanian families. The lorries are expected to reach northern Albania on Monday or Tuesday. The aid convoy was organised by the People in Need foundation, and consists mostly of food, toiletries and mattresses. They will be distributed to Kosovo refugees with the help of NATO and OSCE units in Albania.

Slovak minister unveils NATO ambitions

The Slovak Defence Minister Pavol Kanis has said that his country wants to join NATO within two to three years. Speaking at an arms fair in the Czech city of Brno, Kanis stressed the need for closer cooperation between Slovakia and its former federal partner the Czech Republic. His Czech counterpart Vladimir Vetchy said that Prague, Warsaw and Budapest wanted to see Slovakia join NATO as soon as possible. The Czech Republic enjoyed a special relationship with its East European partners, he said, and there were a number of defence projects on which the four countries could cooperate. The two ministers agreed that closer cooperation would prevent a repeat of poorly coordinated projects in the past such as the modernisation of the Soviet-made T72 tank.

Experts claim police sympathetic to skinheads

The Czech police force has been accused of being sympathetic towards neo- Nazi skinhead groups. A number of leading psychologists and political scientists told the CTK news agency that most officers simply did not understand the danger posed to society by skinheads, and in several cases even shared their convictions. The allegations come in the wake of Saturday's disturbances in central Prague, when riot police protected several hundred marching skinheads from rival anarchist and leftist groups. One of the skinheads was charged on Wednesday for giving the Nazi salute during the demonstration.

Klaus downplays Macek remarks on grand coalition

The leader of the right-wing opposition Civic Democrats Vaclav Klaus has downplayed comments by the party's deputy chairman Miroslav Macek. Macek said in a newspaper interview on Wednesday that a grand coalition with the ruling Social Democrats should not be ruled out. Klaus said such a coalition was an extreme solution. A Civic Democrat spokesman said that Macek's opinions were his own and did not represent the view of the party as a whole. The minority Social Democrat government currently depends on the tolerance of the Civic Democrats to stay in power.

Taxi drivers protest against planned tests

Some five hundred taxi drivers gathered in Prague on Wednesday to protest at new tests, which will examine their knowledge of the capital's streets. All taxi drivers in Prague are to undergo the tests by October the 1st, or face a fine of up to half a million crowns. Drivers say they are expected to learn expert legal terms and even be able to give the exact distances of particular streets. They say that if they fail the test, they face six months of unemployment and will not be able to support their families. The demonstration is expected to arouse little sympathy from the public, as Prague's taxi drivers enjoy one of the worst reputations in Europe, particularly for over-charging foreigners

Ice-hockey victory

The Czech ice-hockey team last night beat the United States 4-3 in a closely fought match putting them at the top of Group C, to go through to the quarter finals of the world championships in Norway. They were undefeated in all three of their first round matches.


Well it's a bright, sunny day here in Prague, temperatures expected to reach a maximum of 20 degrees this afternoon. The weekend is not looking so good though, with a low front expected to bring showers and occasional thunderstorms.

And that's the end of the news.