News Tuesday, AUGUST 22nd, 2000

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Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Nick Carey and this is the news. First, a look at the headlines:

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

First compensation for forced labour by the end of 2000

According to the head of the German delegation to talks on compensation for forced labourers from the Second World War, Otto Lambsdorf, the first compensation payments should be made by the end of this year. Mr. Lambsdorf made his statement after meeting with the representatives of six countries from Central and Eastern Europe, from which thousands of people were transported to Germany during WWII to work in German factories. The Czech negotiator at the meeting, Jiri Sitler, stated that this deadline has been mentioned repeatedly, and that all of the participants in the negotiations expect that it will be met. The level of compensation for forced labour could be up to fifteen thousand Deutschmarks per person.

Pravy Blok wants to remove Communists from public life

The right wing party Pravy Blok has requested that all former Communists be removed from public life. The party's request was made at an event held in Prague to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The event was attended by around two hundred people, predominantly pensioners. According to the party's chairman, Petr Cibulka, the Velvet Revolution in 1989 was merely a privatisation putsch organised by the KGB, which was aimed at making Communist Party leaders the legal owners of property that had hitherto been owned by the state. Pravy Blok therefore wants to have former Communists removed from public life, and for a ban to be implemented that would prevent former Communists doing business.

Storm downs trees, kills girl

Much of the Czech Republic was hit by thunderstorms on Monday night. The worst affected area was East Bohemia, which also saw fierce gales, with winds of up to one hundred kilometres per hour. The strong winds knocked down trees, causing extensive damage to property in several towns and villages. In the village of Chlumec nad Cidlinou, a tree was blown down, and fell on a tent in which a nine-year-old girl was sleeping, killing her on the spot. The storms also caused extensive damage to crops and roads in the region.

Investigator asks for revocation of Kasal's immunity

A police investigator from the Central Bohemian town of Benesov has asked the Lower House of Parliament to revoke the parliamentary immunity of Christian Democrat leader Jan Kasal. Mr. Kasal faces charges of grievous bodily harm, resulting from a car accident he caused in July. A 21-year-old woman was seriously injured in the crash, and is still undergoing treatment. Mr. Kasal himself supports the investigator's request, and says that parliamentary immunity should not be valid for car accidents. The head of the parliamentary immunity committee, Miloslav Vyborny, predicts that both his committee and the Lower House will support the move.

No direct payments, no quotas, says Zidek

According to the Deputy Agriculture Minister, Tomas Zidek, if the EU refuses to give Czech farmers direct payments, then the Czech Republic will refuse to discuss quotas with the union. Direct payments are given to farmers within the EU for not producing surplus goods. If the same money is not provided to farmers in the candidate countries, Mr. Zidek says that the Czech Republic sees no reason to limit agricultural production, and will instead increase production. If direct payments are made to Czech farmers, then according to Mr. Zidek, this money will be reinvested in farm equipment and machinery from companies in the EU. This would ensure that the money provided is channelled back into the EU.

Ministries want almost 100 billion extra for 2001

According to the Finance Ministry, the other ministries have requested funds that are 94 billion Czech Crowns, or two and a quarter billion dollars, in excess of the planned budget for 2001. The three ministries demanding the largest increases are the ministries of Education, Labour and Social Affairs, and Transport and Communications. The government has already agreed the deficit for next year's budget with the opposition Civic Democrats, who keep the government in power via power sharing agreement. According to the Finance Ministry's spokesman, if the GDP improves then the figures may go up, but that not all of the ministries' demands can be satisfied.

Foreign trade debt on the increase

The Czech foreign trade deficit more than doubled in July and reached almost 4 hundred million USD, which is much more than had been predicted. The Czech Statistical Office said the sharp increase was due to increasing imports and oil prices. The unfavourable development was partly compensated for by increased Czech exports of products with high added value to EU countries.

And finally, the weather forecast.

A ridge of high pressure will move into the Czech Republic on Wednesday, bringing slightly warmer weather to the country. The should see clear or partially cloudy skies, with isolated rain showers. The highest daytime temperatures should reach twenty six degrees Celsius. Temperatures during the night should reach fourteen degrees Celsius. I'm Nick Carey, and that's the end of the news.