News Tuesday, JUNE 15th, 1999

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

President Clinton calls Havel

Following a telephone call with Russian resident Boris Yeltsin, US president Bill Clinton called Vaclav Havel to discuss the latest developments in Kosovo. During the discussion, Clinton told the Czech president that an agreement on the participation of Russia in the peacekeeping force in Kosovo is moving forward. Havel apparently now believes that the entry of Russia into Kosovo is not serious enough to cause grave concern. On Sunday, though, he warned that the situation in Yugoslavia contains many hidden risks similar to the Russian problem.

Contract for sale of CSOB to be signed

The contract for the sale of the Czech Republic's third largest bank, CSOB, is ready to be signed. Belgium's KBC Bank won the public tender for the 66% stake in the bank. KBC Bank's bid for CSOB, 40 billion Czech Crowns, was the largest out of the five interested parties including Deutsche Bank, and will invest a further 4 billion over the next four years.

Police investigate theft of firearms

Police and counter espionage agents in the North Bohemian town of Zatec are investigating a record theft of firearms. It is not known when or how the 115 nine millimetres and various machine guns were stolen. The theft was only uncovered last week when two armed Yugoslavians were caught in the courthouse in Plzen and the guns they were carrying proved to be from Zatec. Prior to this, police officers thought that the discrepancy in the number of firearms in storage was simply an administrative error.

President Havel to go to Kosovo

President Vaclav Hvael is to pay a visit to the Yugoslav province of Kosovo at the end of the month. This has been confirmed by presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek. A month ago Havel expressed an interest in going to the province. The president stated that he is not going just because it is fashionable, but because he wants to help those who are suffering.

Zeman meets with general secretary of the OECD

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman met with the general secretary of the OECD, Donald Johnson in Prague on Tuesday to discuss the development of the Czech economy and the government's unemployment policy. Following the meeting, Zeman said that he was pleasantly surprised that the OECD's estimate for the growth of the Czech economy was higher than his. They discussed the economic and social issues of unemployment, and Johnson stated that structural changes will be necessary in the Czech Republic to face this problem.

Grulich warns that border with Slovakia will have to be guarded by the army

Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich has warned that the Czech - Slovak border will have to be constantly patrolled by the army in the future as well as by the police. This will ensure the safety of the Czech Republic's eastern border. According to Grulich, pressure from the East is mounting on the border. The first priority he said, is to pass a law allowing the army to patrol the border. The minister has already sounded out parliament on the issue, but has received a negative answer. The army, on the other hand, is in favour of the idea.

CKD employees return to work

The majority of the employees of CKD Dopravni Systemy have returned to work. Over three quarters of the workforce is now working. The remaining workers are manual labourers who will gradually return to CKD once work recommences on all of the company's orders. On Tuesday next week talks will commence on the outstanding salaries that the workforce is owed.

Opinion poll shows that Czechs, Hungarians and Poles are sceptical of the private sector

In a opinion poll carried out in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic by the IVVM public opinion institute, the inhabitants of all three countries have expressed a preference of state run jobs over those in the private sector. Roughly half of the people asked said that although work in the public sector was not well paid, there was at least job security, whilst only six percent of Czechs and Hungarians, and thirteen percent of Poles see the private sector as secure, despite the fact that salaries tend to be much higher.

Communist Party to oppose sending Czech troops to Kosovo

According to Communist Party parliamentary club chairman Vojtech Filip, his party will most likely oppose the sending of Czech troops to join the KFOR peacekeeping mission. He admitted that while the United Nations has passed the motion to send in troops, the poor economic situation of the Czech Republic will make it difficult for the country to send troops. He is worried that Czech troops will be used by the British as a vanguard, and that they will not come back, but rather be shipped back. This sort of risk seems to high to the party, he said. The party will decide the matter formally on Tuesday next week.

Police have interrogated Lhotsky

The Czech police have interrogated businessman Ivan Lhotsky in connection with the attempt on his life on March 1st. Lhotsky made allegations in January this year that his company has lent several million Czech Crowns to the ruling Social Democrat Party, and that the party was not paying back the loan. Lhotsky was shot in the head and chest in his apartment building. Police have finally been able to interrogate him, but he was unable to help them with their enquiries.

Government to debate removal of head of state nuclear safety office

The government is to discuss the removal of Jan Stuller from the post of chairman of the state nuclear safety office. Stuller, whose office has often been criticised by ecologists, has requested that he be removed from his post that he can up a position on the International Agency for Atomic Energy. The new chairman should be Stuller's assistant, Karel Bohm. And finally the weather. The forecast for today is overcast skies with a possibility of rain later on. And that was the news.