News Tuesday, AUGUST 24th, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Pauline Newman, first lets take a look at the main headlines of the day:

You are tuned to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines, now lets take a look at the news in full:

Macek - ODS Unprepared

Miroslav Macek, deputy Chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, the ODS, told journalists on Monday, that the party is far from ready to form a one party government. Mr Macek said that the ODS must create a straightforward election manifesto and put together a team of dedicated members who will work at promoting the party. Referring to the post-election agreement, which the party signed with the social democrats, Macek said that a growing feature in the ODS and one which fills him with concern, is the apparent satisfaction with the current government. He also criticised his party, saying there is a tendency to refuse responsibility for any moves the government makes. According to Macek, if this continues, the current political situation will last forever. He concluded that, the ODS must win the next elections and explained that the current electoral system must change allowing one party to rule without the hinderance of another.

CSSD - Srp - Confidence

The ruling Social Democrats have expressed confidence in their candidate Karel Srp who is taking part in the forthcoming Senate by-elections. He is facing accusations of having collaborated with the communist secret service in the eighties and has been hounded by the media for having failed to produce a negative screening certificate.

Mr Srp brought charges against the Interior ministry on Monday, and said that in the past, his work brought him into conflict with the secret police and that as a dissident he even spent time in jail. Karel Srp claims that the certificate he now awaits, should clear his name completely. He added that if anyone has any objections to his activities under the communist regime, then they should have come forward during the last ten years.

Lansky - Illegal activities

A spokesman for deputy Premier Egon Lansky, says no further comment will be made on the scandal over Lanskys account in Austria. He repeated Mr Lanskys claim that he has done nothing illegal or unethical.

This comes after a Czech newspaper last month, published an article, quoting a source at the Austrian bank, that Lansky opened an account, without the permission of the Czech National Bank, a prerequisite for Czechs who wish to have current accounts abroad. Speculation on possible illegal activities took place, when it was revealed that the finance ministry deposited money in the account in 1996. A spokesman for the CNB, told journalists on Monday, that the bank must give permission for deposits from the state. He added that he cannot comment any further since he is bound by customer confidentiality.

Wages - Unions - Jobs

Czech Premier Milos Zeman could be in for a battle with the Czech Trade Unions, after he announced on Monday, that he wants to increase wages in the public sector by cutting jobs. Mr Zeman told Czech radio that only through staff cuts can civil servants be given higher wages. He added that this measure can only be carried out in sectors where there is a surplus of employment and where it will not have a drastic impact on the Czech economy. "It will still take some time to work out where there is room for this manoeuvre" Milos Zeman said.

Czech Trade Unions have in the meantime, forwarded demands for what they are calling a "slight increase in wages". Czech minister for labour and Social Affairs Vladimir Spidla promised Trade Unions that their demands will be discussed during Wednesdays cabinet session.

Turkey - Aid - Pick

The Czech Republic will release ten million crowns in the form of aid for Turkey, which was hit last week by a devastating earthquake. First Deputy at the Foreign Ministry Otto Pick told journalists on Monday afternoon, that the first million will leave the Czech Republic on Tuesday, in the form of blankets, medicines and bandages. the next package is due to be sent out by the end of the week.

EU - Government - Readiness

The Czech Government meeting for the first time on Wednesday, since the end of the holidays, is preparing to discuss preparations for the Czech republic entry to the European Union. A spokesman for Deputy Premier Egon Lansky says the government will discuss various documents outlining the current stage of preparations.

Sparks are expected to fly, after another Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky allegedly told a newspaper that the Ministries of Finance and Trade and Industry are behind in their work on preparations.

NATO - Visit

The head of NATOs military committee, Guido Venturoni, is set to visit the Czech Republic on Wednesday. This is the first time the recently named Italian admiral will meet with representatives of the Prague government. Talks with Czech Defence Minister Vladimir Vetchy, Chairman of Parliament Vaclav Klaus and first deputy of the Foreign Ministry Otto Pick will be on the agenda.

Refugees - Germany

Seven refugees from Afghanistan were smuggled from the Czech Republic into Germany on Monday, in a wagon containing a cement mixer. According to the Bavarian police, the seven illegal passengers were hidden inside one of the huge cement mixers. The refugees are to be sent back to the czech Republic over the next few days. According to experts, this is another example of how criminal organisations are constantly looking for new ways in which to smuggle people across borders.

Finally, we end as usual with a brief look at the weather:

Tuesday will see a cool, cloudy start to the day. This will improve as the day continues, with temperatures climbing to 26 degrees Celsius. There is a possibility of showers later on in the day, as temperatures will cool overnight to as low as 7 degrees Celsius in some areas.

I'm Pauline Newman and that's the end of the news