News Tuesday, JUNE 06th, 2000

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CZECH-MOLDOVA-POLICE

Police in Prague say they are holding a man who was probably implicated in the assault on Moldovan Transport Minister and his aide in Prague last week.

The minister, Afanasie Smochin and his deputy were beaten on Celetna Street in downtown Prague and were robbed of the equivalent of over 1,000 dollars in Czech crowns. They said the six assailants were speaking Russian.

CZECH-EUROPE-ENLARGEMENT

Six countries on the fast track to European Union membership say that the next round of EU enlargement should take place no later than 2003 in order to avoid serious political risks.

Foreign ministers of Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia, meeting outside Ljubljana, said on Monday that all six countries expected to complete negotiations next year and join the EU by 2003. The six states started membership talks two years ago.

Current EU members have so far avoided setting a concrete timetable for the enlargement, not least because of fears in some countries that they could be swamped by cheap labour from central and eastern Europe.

The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan warned that if the candidate countries fulfil all the different criteria of accession, make the inevitable sacrifices and then have to wait for many years, this will supply ammunition to those who encourage anti-EU views. He said this would create fertile soil for what he described as the Haider phenomenon.

Mr. Kavan was referring to the Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider, who is best known for remarks playing down the crimes of the Nazis and for campaigning against immigration and the enlargement of the EU.

CZECH-HAVEL-SURGERY

Czech President Vaclav Havel is recuperating after successfully having a hernia removed on Monday.

The two-hour operation was performed without any major complication by a medical team led by Austrian surgeon Ernst Bodner.

According to his doctor Ilja Kotik, 63-year old Havel is to remain at the Prague-Stresovice military hospital for about two weeks. Anesthesiologist Walter Hasibeder said, however, that the next two or three days will be critical.

President Havel suffered a ruptured intestine and had an emergency abdominal operation while on holiday in Austria two years ago. Monday's surgery had long been in the works.

CZECH-CRIME-NAZISM

Police have confiscated thousands of copies of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" from bookstores throughout the Czech Republic. The publisher was ordered to appear for questioning on June 20 after he was charged with allegations of propagating Nazism last week.

Michal Zitko's Prague-based publishing house, Otakar II, released a Czech translation of "Mein Kampf" more than 60 years after Hitler banned a Czech version, deeming it an "unworthy" language.

The 10,000 unabridged copies became available in March. Mr. Zitko said then that he wanted people to be able to criticise Hitler and his perverted ideology on the basis of facts, not mediated impressions. He faces three to five years in prison.

Police said it could take weeks for all the Czech-language copies to be located and removed.

"Mein Kampf" is Hitler's autobiography, which also outlines his racial theories which led to the Holocaust. It is banned in Germany, Austria and Hungary but is freely available in the United States, Britain, Russia and other nations.

CZECH-FOOD-PRICES

Food prices in the Czech Republic will rise by at least between 10 and 15 percent before this country accedes to the European Union, according to a study just released by this country's Research Institute for Agricultural Economy and the Ministry of Agriculture.

The ministry's EU accession negotiator Tomas Zidek said on Monday that while this does not concern all foodstuffs, because some food prices already are at the EU level, for instance dairy products and sugar will not escape a price hike.

The study says that for instance pork is not in for any price shocks, while the prices of other meats and poultry will reach the EU level. Similarly, all dairy products, which are now about 25 percent cheaper in the Czech Republic than in the EU, will see a change in price, the study says.

CZECH-WEATHER

And we end as usual with a quick look at the weather.

On Tuesday, a clod front will advance across Czech territory further to the east. We expect a wet day with scattered thunderstorms and maximum daytime temperatures between 18 and 23 degrees Celsius, dropping to between 14 and 18 degrees in the night.

Wednesday and Thursday will be cooler days with daytime highs on Wednesday between 17 and 21 Celsius, and on Thursday, between 20 and 24 degrees.

I'm Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.