News Tuesday, MAY 16th, 2000

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Sporitelna has new CEO

A new Chief Executive Officer has been appointed to Ceska Sporitelna savings bank. American Jack Stack has been made CEO and chairman of the board. Mr. Stack and the rest of a new board of directors will take over in June. Mr. Stack told reporters that his main aim will be to improve services and enhance employee performance. He also expects that redundancies will be necessary. Sporitelna, which was one of two remaining state-owned banks, was sold to Austria's Erste bank in February.

Madrid and Paris blocking Czech accession to EU

Spain and France have been blocking accession negotiations between the Czech Republic and the EU. The other five candidate countries have similar problems. The next round of negotiations is scheduled for the 26th of May, but will take place only if these problems are resolved this week.

Spain objects to the compromise wording of the draft position document on the free movement of labour and would like to postpone budget issues until the end of the accession negotiations.

France has additional demands in the chapter "Justice and Interior". Paris also demands that the membership applicants apply the Schengen Agreement fully at the moment of entry, which other EU members say is unrealistic.

Agriculture Ministry to be responsible for water management

The government has decided that the Central Water Management Office, which will exercise state control in this area, will fall under the control of the Agriculture Ministry. The decision has brought an end to a lengthy dispute between the Agriculture Minister Jan Fencl and the Environment Minister Milos Kuzvart. Both ministers have been charged with presenting a joint draft bill on water management within 30 days.

Social benefits doubled since 1995

The amount of money paid by the state in social benefits grew by more than two hundred percent from 1995 to 1999. According to an analysis compiled by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, this is connected with decreasing incomes and growing unemployment.

Motorcycle stolen from British racer

A motorcycle has been stolen from British racer James Redman during the Motocross World Championship in Loket nad Ohri, Western Bohemia, on Sunday. Local police said that the green motorcycle with the number 41 was worth about 10,000 pounds and was stolen while the main part of the race was underway.

Thai princess visits Czech Republic

Thai princess Chulabhorn arrives in Prague today. She is the only one of the three Thai princesses who has not visited the Czech Republic yet. Her programme will consist mainly of sight-seeing.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting another bright and clear day, afternoon highs should range from 25 to 29 degrees Celsius. Wednesday should be much the same -- virtually cloudless, with the highest daytime temperatures up to 29 degrees Celsius. On Thursday, however, we should see some clouds and scattered showers, and temperatures just around 20 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.