News Tuesday, AUGUST 03th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Czech Rep. supports Robertson as future head of NATO - Kavan

The Czech Republic supports the candidacy of British Defence Secretary George Robertson for the post of NATO secretary general, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan told journalists. Kavan also described Robertson as his close friend and said that Robertson had a positive attitude towards the Czech Republic. Kavan said he had discussed Robertson's candidacy with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook recently and added that he had known Robertson for many years and worked with him in support for the Czechoslovak Charter 77 human rights movement during his exile in Britain.


The Czech National Bank is going to release a new emission of 5000-crown banknotes. The reason is a growing number of counterfeits spreading all over the Czech Republic. Although the current Czech banknotes are comparable to those of western countries as far as security is concerned, the new 5000-crown banknote is to have even more protective features.


Colombia has agreed to extradite Czech citizen Vaclav Novotny- Urban who has been charged with drug smuggling. Novotny-Urban who lives in Colombia, was accused of smuggling 60 kilogrammes of cocaine to the Czech Republic two years ago. Colombian police are expected to hand over Novotny-Urban to their Czech colleagues today.

Britain - visas

Great Britain is not likely to introduce entry visas for Czech citizens. The Czech foreign ministry said that the number of Czech Romany citizens seeking asylum in Britain decreased which is a positive signal. Ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil said that the decisive factor for the introduction of the entry visa requirement is the trend. The number of Czech Roma asylum seekers steadily increased from January to June and the Czech government human rights commissionaire Petr Uhl warned that if the trend continued for two or three more months, Britain would be certain to introduce the visa requirement.


Czech and Slovak prime ministers Milos Zeman and Mikulas Dzurinda have met to discuss the the division of former Czechoslovak federal property. The two officials met informally in Slovenia where they are spending their holidays. They discussed the property issue but have not come to any conclusion. While Dzurinda supports the so-called zero- variant, Zeman is strongly opposed to the idea of cancellation of the mutual claims. A breakthrough in the negotiations is expected in autumn when Dzurinda is to pay an official visit to the Czech Republic.

Budget surplus in July

The Czech state budget ended with a slight surplus in July. While in June, the state budget had a deficit of 6 billion, in July it ended with a surplus of 0.7 billion crowns. Finance ministry senior official Eduard Janota told reporters that the favourable result stemed mainly from lower budget expenditures than expected. However, he said that the ministry has not changed its end-year deficit projection of 48 billion crowns.

President Havel pleased to be connected with Impulse 99

President Havel is pleased to be connected with the Impuls 99 initiative, although he is not the moving force behind it. Havel's spokesman Ladislav Spacek told the CTK news agency that President Havel feels honoured that whenever a sensible and interesting initiative emerges, he is seen as its moving force. Impulse 99 calls for a new style of politics, and seeks to open up discussion about public issues and bringing about a renewal of moral values.

How to sell Sporitelna

The state-owned bank Ceska Sporitelna may not be sold-off in a tender but via direct negotiations with selected potential buyers, Sporitelna's CEO Dusan Baran was quoted as saying. Baran suggested that if this approach were taken, the sale could be completed by the end of this year. He also sees a state bail-out desirable prior to privatisation, as this would improve the government's position in negotiations with applicants, and help secure a better price.

Uhl responsible for exodus of Romanies - Vaclavek

Government human rights commissioner Petr Uhl is responsible for the rising number of Czech Romanies emigrating to Great Britain and other countries, according to Social Democrat regional leader in South Moravia, Jiri Vaclavek told reporters. In Vaclavek's opinion, Uhl has not fulfilled the expectations with which his office was established. Vaclavek said that in order to solve the Roma issues, Uhl should have concentrated on steps of a more general nature, such as employment or education, instead of memorials after former concentration camp sites.

U.S. Eastman buys Czech CHZS

The Czech government has agreed to sell its 74-percent stake in western Bohemian chemical company Chemicke Zavody Sokolov to the U.S.-based Eastman Chemical. Czech finance ministry spokesman Libor Vacek said that the deal, which calls for Eastman to pay 150 million crowns for the stock while paying off over 1 billion CZK in the Czech company's debt, should be signed by the end of September and closed by the end of the year. The company, which specialises in acrylic acid and polymer production, has posted a series of losses, including an 80 million crown net loss in 1998.

Czech weather report

And finally, a brief look at the weather. We are expecting another mostly clear day, afternoon highs should range from 25 to 29 degrees Celsius. Wednesday and Thursday should see rather cloudy skies with occasional showers, with highest daytime temperatures between 26 and 30 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.