News Tuesday, DECEMBER 07th, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I´m Rob Cameron, first the news headlines.

Those were the headlines, now for the news in more detail.

Zeman says cross-party budget meeting to go ahead

The Prime Minister Milos Zeman has said a cross-party meeting on the budget would go ahead as planned on Tuesday, despite a decision by two opposition parties to boycott the talks. The two parties, the right-of-centre Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, said they agreed to attend the meeting only on the condition that it would be held after parliament had discussed the draft budget. The Christian Democrat leader Jan Kasal said the boycott of the meeting was the fault of the ruling Social Democrats and the main opposition Civic Democrats, who have repeatedly postponed the budget debate in the lower house. The Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik has warned of serious consequences if approval of the budget is delayed.

Interior Ministry says no ban on skinhead groups

The Interior Ministry has said it cannot outlaw two extreme-right skinhead organisations, because they have apologised for an incident at a recent demonstration at which a member of one of the groups denied the existence of the Holocaust. The two groups, the Patriotic Front and the National Alliance, are registered with the Interior Ministry as civic associations, but critics say they have obvious neo-Nazi sympathies. A ministry spokesman said the two groups had been sent a letter of warning following the demonstration, but because they had responded to the letter adequately there were no grounds on which to ban them.

Rising fears over compulsory motor insurance

With less than four weeks to go until the end of this year, just 1.7 million of the country's car-owners have obtained new compulsory vehicle insurance, leading to fears that many cars will be on the road illegally on January 1st. Compulsory vehicle insurance was recently privatised, with twelve insurance companies receiving licenses to provide policies. According to police figures there were five and a half million cars on the road at the end of 1998. Drivers will face heavy fines if they fail to insure their cars by the end of this year.

Kavan admits NATO air strikes caught Prague off-guard

The Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has admitted NATO's decision to launch air strikes against Yugoslavia caught the Czech government off guard. However Mr Kavan, speaking at a conference in Prague on Monday, stressed that the Czech Republic, which joined NATO just weeks before air strikes began, had supported the operation against Yugoslavia from the beginning. He criticised the alliance for failing to launch a co-ordinated media campaign to explain NATO's actions, saying that the lack of a campaign in the Czech Republic had contributed to low public support for air strikes. Mr Kavan said he was still proud of the joint Czech-Greek initiative to end the Kosovo crisis, which was seen by some as undermining the alliance's united stand against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

New opinion poll shows deepening gloom over politics, economy

A fifty-eight-year-old pensioner from Ceske Budejovice in South Bohemia has pleaded guilty to murdering a local police chief. Oktavian Kempsky, appearing before the city's regional court on Monday, admitted shooting forty-six-year-old Vladimir Ryklik, chief of police for the Ceske Budejovice region, in a local bar in May. The police chief later died in hospital from wounds to the chest and abdomen. Mr Kempsky, who has admitted drinking before the incident, faces up to fifteen years in prison if found guilty.

Pensioner admits killing police chief

A new opinion poll has claimed public dissatisfaction with the political and economic climate is deepening, with just 11 percent satisfied with the political situation and eight percent happy with the economy. Less than a quarter of respondents to the survey by the state-run Institute for Public Opinion Research thought the situation would improve in the future.


And I´ll end as usual with a quick look at Wednesday´s weather forecast. And it will be a mild and cloudy day in the Czech Republic, with rain and scattered showers in places. Daytime temperatures will reach 7 degrees Celsius in the daytime, falling to lows of 1 degree at night.

I'm Rob Cameron and that's the end of the news.