News Thursday, OCTOBER 28th, 1999

Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail:

Employment office procedure not proof of racism

Various members of the lower house of deputies have stated that the separation of white from Roma job applicants is not necessarily racist. It has been revealed that Roma job seekers have had their files marked with an R for Roma, to separate them from the white Czech majority. Those members of parliament asked stated that so far it is unknown whether this practise was an attempt to discriminate against the Roma, or to help them. Jaroslac Zverina of the centre-right Civic Democratic Party stated that if this is positive discrimination, then he does know if anything should be done against the employment offices, but if it is negative then the problem will have to be removed. Members of the other centre-right parliamentary parties, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union expressed similar points of view. Josef Janacek of the Freedom Union stated that this may have been a statistical procedure, which he considers to be a different matter to racial discrimination.

Former conference centre director accuses government representatives of blackmail

The former director of a conference centre in Stirina in Central Bohemia has accused the current leaders of the Foreign Ministry of blackmail. Vaclav Hruby claims that representatives of the ministry tried to blackmail him into producing forged documents to incriminate former Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec. Zieleniec has been accused by the ruling Social Democrats of abusing state funds, but so far no proof of this has been forthcoming. Hruby told journalists that his refusal to participate in the case against Zieleniec was the real reason that he removed from his position recently. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil said that he knew of nothing that could corroborate these claims, but said that Hruby was not removed from his post in connection with the case against Zieleniec. Hruby intends to start a civil lawsuit against the government for removing him from his position illegally.

German offer of compensation apparently shameful

A member of the Czech delegation for settling compensation claims for forced labour in World War Two in Germany, Felix Kolmer, has called the latest German offer shameful. In an interview for the German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung, he said that while he was pleased that the current government, unlike any previous government, was at least dealing with the issue, he is critical of German businesses. The latest offer from sixteen companies that are being sued is a total of four billion German Marks, while Kolmer says that the combined annual profit for these companies is many times higher than this figure. He was particularly critical of what he termed playing with figures. The German companies involved claim that there were four hundred thousand forced labourers, while Kolmer claims that there were a minimum of seven hundred thousand. Kolmer believes that while the figure of thirty billion dollars that has been demanded by American lawyers if utopian, he would be happy if it was a third of that figure.

And on a lighter note, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain has wished the Czech Republic a happy birthday on the eve of celebrations of the anniversary of the founding of the Czechoslovak state.

And finally the weather. The weather on Thursday will bring us clear to slightly cloudy skies with maximum temperatures reaching fifteen degrees centigrade. And that was the news.