News Thursday, NOVEMBER 30th, 2000

By Libor Kubik

Govt delays fighterplane tender

The Czech government has postponed by two weeks the calling of a tender for new supersonic jets for the country's air force, to replace its aging fleet of Soviet-vintage planes.

Originally, the tender should have been formally announced today but a new date has been set for December 15. Two variants of tender had been intended, calling for 24 and 36 new planes respectively. Offset programs were considered as well.

The bidders are the Anglo-Swedish consortium British Aerospace with its advanced Gripen fighter, the U.S. corporation McDonnell-Douglas/Boeing who make F-18s, the French firm Dassault Aviation, the makers of the Mirage 2000, and the multinational consortium EADS which coordinates production of the Eurofighter. Lockheed Martin have offered the tried and proven F-16s.

Havel faces battle with govt over central bank chief

Political foes of Czech President Vaclav Havel have threatened to ask a court to reverse his appointment of a new central bank chief.

The threat came after President Havel named Zdenek Tuma the new governor of the Czech National Bank.

Mr Tuma, currently the bank's vice governor, will succeed Josef Tosovsky, the long- time bank chief who is taking a new job next month with a Swiss banking consultant company.

Havel's decision defied cabinet chiefs and members of parliament who want a share in picking central bank governors and setting the bank's budget.

Before the appointment, Prime Minister Milos Zeman said any appointment needed his signature as well as the president's.

Our correspondent says Mr Havel's decision to go ahead with Tuma's appointment without Mr Zeman's approval set the stage for what could be a showdown in constitutional court.

EU okays plans for East Europe farm aid

The European Commission has said it has given the green light to plans for farm support aid to east European states seeking a membership of the European Union.

The framework, known in EU jargon as SAPARD, will cover ten new democracies looking to join the 15-member EU. They have been allocated 520 million euros a year in pre-accession aid to improve food processing, raise hygiene and veterinary standards, and take rural development measures.

The Czech Republic is one of the 10 applicant nations.

Zatopek to be honoured with IAAF Order of Merit

The Czech Olympic legend Emil Zatopek, who died last Wednesday at the age of 78, will be honoured posthumously with the IAAF's Golden Order of Merit.

In a statement released in Lausanne, athletics' ruling body has said this is being done in recognition of Zatopek's outstanding achievements in athletics and the inspirational example he offered to the youth of the world.

The federation's president Lamine Diack will attend Mr Zatopek's funeral in Prague next Wednesday, together with the president of the International Olympics Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Zatopek's finest achievements came at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics when he won the 5,000 and 10,000 metres plus the marathon in the space of eight days, each in Olympic record time.

Czech weather report

Thursday will be a cloudy day, but a warmer air will continue to pour in from the southwest. After early morning lows of between freezing and four above, we expect daytime temperatures to reach up to 11 degrees Celsius in Bohemia and between five and nine degrees in Moravia and Silesia, where the skies will remain overcast all day long.

At the weekend, the warmer air intrusion will continue, bringing along some scattered showers, morning fogs and drizzle at higher elevations. Nighttime lows on both days will be slightly above freezing point, daytime highs between seven and 11 degrees above zero, but only around five degrees in places where patchy fogs don't disperse all day long.