News Tuesday, JUNE 22nd, 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:

Minister of Transport removes management of ACC Praha

In a bid to avert a strike by the air traffic controllers's union, Transport Minister Antonin Peltram has temporarily removed the management of ACC Praha, the company that administers flights over Czech airspace. An interim management will be in place until an investigation is carried out into allegations by the union that the new radar system installed by ACC Praha is inadequate, and that they are understaffed. The union was set to walk off the job as early as Friday to protest against conditions, and one of their conditions for remaining in work is the removal of the management of ACC Praha. The Transport Minister's measure has put off strike action for the moment, but union members say they are still on strike alert.

Czech railways to cut staff

The director of Czech Railways, Dalibor Zelezny, has said that the state-owned company will lay off up to three thousand employees this year. This will be done to cut costs, as the company is having difficulty footing the bill of modernisation. The company, according to Zelezny, cannot lay off more employees because they could not be replaced by modern technology.

Havel to visit Turkey

President Vaclav Havel has announced that he will travel to Turkey this autumn to help resolve differences between the Turks and the Kurds. The president believes that something should be done to bring the dispute between the two ethnic groups to an end. He will meet with leading representatives of both the Kurds and the Turks, with the Turkish president, government and parliament to discuss the issue.

Nazi trial abandoned

The trial of a former Nazi guard at the Terezin internment camp in North Bohemia has been abandoned due to conflicting evidence. Eighty-seven year old Anton Malloth has been accused by former internees of the camp of murdering prisoners. Investigations carried out in Dortmund have proven that Malloth acted brutally towards prisoners, but this is not enough for a conviction. The accounts given by individual witnesses are not suitable for murder a trial, as they differ too greatly from another. Further to this, many witnesses have died or cannot be located. Malloth, who has been living in an old people's home in Munich was convicted in his absence by a court in Czechoslovakia in 1948.

Vetchy says more support should be given to Partnership for Peace

In a speech at the NATO Workshop conference in Budapest, Czech Defence Minister Vladimir Vetchy stated that it is necessary to strengthen the political dimension of the Partnership for Peace programme. He believes that the PfP's opportunities have not been fully utilised, its goals have not been fulfilled, and that recent developments in Kosovo do not mean that the PfP should be weakened. Vetchy stated that programme should be used in peacekeeping operations hand in hand with the armed forces.

Macedonian president against KLA political leadership of Kosovo

After meeting with Vaclav Havel, Macedonian president Kiro Gligorov stated that he considers it vital that democratic elections should be held in Kosovo under the supervision of international peacekeeping forces. He does not, however, support the possible leadership of the civilian administration by Kosovo Liberation Army leader Hashim Thaqi. This follows the surprise move last week when the prime ministers of Macedonia and Albania supported the leadership of Thaqi. The move has not been openly accepted abroad, and Belgrade refuses any to deal with any representatives of the KLA, which it sees as a terrorist organisation.

Czech Foreign Minister announces date Czech KFOR forces will leave for Kosovo

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has announced that the Czech troops who are due to join the KFOR peacekeeping troops in Kosovo will set off for the region on June 28th and will report to UN commanders four days later. Kavan believes that the Czech force is well prepared, and will reinforce the good reputation earned by Czech soldiers in Bosnia. He confirmed that the Czechs, as in Bosnia, will fall under the command of British troops.

EU chief negotiator says Kovoso crisis injects new urgency into EU expansion

Prior to meetings with the foreign ministers of the six countries in line for the first wave of EU expansion eastwards, the EU chief negotiator, Nikolaus van der Pas, says that the Kosovo crisis has brought closer for poor Balkan countries such as Albania and Macedonia. The pace of integration for the front runners, including the Czech Republic, though, will not change. According to van der Pas, without the crisis, the EU would not have considered offering the Balkan states the prospect of long-term membership. The front runners are evenly placed at the moment, but gaps may appear as more difficult areas of negotiations are dealt with. EU leaders are also set to discuss at their summit whether to speed up the integration process for Slovakia, Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania.

Head of Slovak secret services committee blames Havel for disintegration of security services

The head of the Slovak parliamentary committee for supervising the secret services, Jan Slota, has said that the break-up of the Czechoslovak secret services is one of the biggest debacles since 1989, and blames this on Vaclav Havel. Slota, a member of the nationalist party who is notorious for a drunken anti-Hungarian outburst last year when he said the Slovaks should send their tanks to Budapest. He is now threatened with removal from his position for statements like the one against President Havel, for revealing state secrets, and for problems with alcohol.

Public opinion poll says Czechs dissatisfied with bureaucrats

In a new public opinion poll, carried out by the IVVM public opinion institute, almost fifty percent of those asked said they were unhappy with the behaviour of officials in various institutions. The reasons for this are haughtiness, unwillingness to help and a lack of interest in helping people. By far and away the most critical of the behaviour of officials are men.

And finally the weather. The forecast for today is overcast skies with a possibility of rain showers later on. And that was the news.