News Tuesday, MAY 09th, 2000

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail:

President Havel visits Germany

President Vaclav Havel has began his first-ever state visit to Germany . The high-profile four day visit takes place at the invitation of German President Johannes Rau and, according to official sources, its main aim is to cement good- neighbour relations and discuss the European integration process.

On the eve of the visit President Havel noted that Czechs and Germans had come a long way over the past ten years and that their relations were now on a qualitatively higher level. There is a strong network of mutually-beneficial contacts at all levels and the fact that this is President Havel's first state visit to Germany is somewhat misleading. As president ,Vaclav Havel has visited Germany 13 times in all. He was in Berlin only last week to attend a birthday celebration for the former German president Richard von Weizsacker, whom he considers a very close friend.

Czechs celebrate Europe Day

Hot on the heels of festivities commemorating the end of the SWW Czechs are celebrating their future: Europe Day. Foreign minister Jan Kavan, the Czech chief envoy to Brussels Pavel Telicka and EU ambassador to the Czech Republic Ramiro Cibrian , among others, will acquaint the public with how the Union works and what effects accession will have on Czech citizens. The three will ride on a historic tram through the streets of Prague and answer fellow- passengers' questions. Other politicians and diplomats will meet with the public on Wenceslas Square and the ambassadors of the EU member states in Prague will each plant a tree along what will be a future "European alley" in the Czech capital.

Government to revise Penal Code

The Czech government is to debate a proposed amendment to the Penal Code which would enable the judiciary to take a tougher line against all forms of discrimination. The draft amendment has been tabled by a group of Civic Democratic Party members of Parliament and it offers a stricter definition of discrimination in terms of race, social class and religion.

Government to decide future of Czech mission in Kosovo

At its Wednesday session the Cabinet should also come to a decision on the Czech Republic's future participation in the international peace-keeping forces in Kosovo. It had initially planned to terminate the Czech unit's mission in Kosovo and concentrate fully on the Czech mission in Bosnia, the work of which is highly valued . However recent developments in Kosovo have led NATO to request an additional 3,500 troops to replace outgoing units.

Finally a look at the weather:

Tuesday should bring partly cloudy to overcast skies with scattered showers and thunderstorms in the late afternoon. Day temps between 21 and 25 degs C.