News Tuesday, DECEMBER 14th, 1999

Welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik and here's the news.

Those are the main points, and now the news in more detail.


The main-opposition Civic Democrats have renewed their invitation to all noncommunist parties, represented in parliament, for bilateral talks on forming a majority government. The Civic Democrats again said they would be ready to join such a cabinet.

The Civic Democrats' first attempt to make others join a super coalition failed two months ago, when it won qualified support only from the ruling Social Democrats but was rejected by two smaller right-of-centre parties.

On Friday, Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus appealed to Prime Minister Milos Zeman to stop pretending that his minority Social Democrat cabinet is excellent. Klaus warned that a minority administration cannot conduct a majority policy. Klaus's warning came right after the Social Democrats' draft budget for the year 2000 was defeated in parliament.

Our correspondent says both parties are bound together by an unusual deal which effectively enabled the forming of a minority Social Democrat cabinet after an inconclusive election one and half years ago.


Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has begun a week-long tour of Vietnam and China with the aim of boosting economic cooperation and helping reduce his country's huge trade deficit with both Asian countries.

Prime Minister Zeman's entourage includes a delegation of leading Czech indistrialists.

Our correspondent says the Czech Republic and Vietnam are expected exchange notes concerning the lifting of a visa requirement for travellers with diplomatic passports.


The Czech cabinet endorsed principles of a future bill on the freedom of religious confession and the status of churches and church organisations.

The draft envisages lowering the number of signatures required for registering a religious society from the current 10,000 to only 300.

The draft also legalises organisations previously regarded as being without statutes -- such as Muslims, Buddhists, various new religious streams as well as smaller but traditional communities such as the Anglicans.


President Vaclav Havel, several cabinet ministers and the Lord Mayor of Prague will attend a concert on Tuesday in Prague's Municipal House to formally launch the project "Prague - a European City of Culture 2000.

This project presents Prague as a major hub of culture, arts, education, finance and economy. The title "A European City of Culture" is awarded every year by the European Union.


The National Y2K Coordination Centre in Prague is launching a nationwide information drive to alert the public to the problems which could arise in computer networks in connection with the 'Millennium Bug'.

The Centre is to distribute four million leaflets to private and corporate letterboxes to warn that problems cannot be ruled out even though the state administration bodies are said to be well prepared for the big night.

Also, a toll-free special telephone line will be open, the Centre said.


Talking about the Millennium Bug -- and the Moaning After -- the Prague Town Hall said on Monday it was going to open an additional sobering-up centre in conjunction with Prague's Thomayer Hospital.

City Fathers say another 26 beds would be added to the existing inventory to help detoxicate those who would have one too many on New Year's Eve.

Clients treated at Prague's sobering-up centres pay approximately 400 dollars for a one-night stay. They have to be picked up by the police. This service is only partly subsidied.


The Czech carmaker Skoda said on Monday it was completing a strong business year with almost six percent more cars sold so far and revenues expected to rise some 30 percent.

Skoda spokesman Milan Smutny said that so far the company had sold more than 350,000 cars.

Turnover at this Volkswagen subsidiary is foreseen reaching over 670 million dollars. Smutny said that the most successful Skoda car this year was the Felicia model, with sales topping 150,000.


And we end as usual with a brief weather report.

We expect Tuesday to be a wet and rather cold day, with frequent snow showers and maximum daytime temperatures between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius, dropping below freezing point in the night.

On Wednesday and Thursday, cold air will pour into Central Europe from the north east. We expect early morning lows slightly below zero on Wednesday and between -3 and -7 Celsius on Thursday. Daytime highs on Wednesday between zero and 3 Celsius, and on Thursday between minus 2 and plus 2 degrees.

I am Libor Kubik and that’s the end of the news.