News Tuesday, MAY 23rd, 2000

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Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik, and we start the programme with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines:

Those were the headlines, now for the news in more detail.

CZECH-SKODA-AUTOMOBILE

Germany's Volkswagen Group is to buy the Czech Consolidation Bank's 30-percent stake in the Skoda Automobile company for 650 million marks.

The Czech government has announced that the deal was made after lengthy negotiations. The cabinet has instructed the minister of finance to sign a contract with Volkswagen, a 70-percent Skoda shareholder, by the end of May. Government spokesman Libor Roucek says the transaction must be completed within 12 working days after the deal takes effect.

The government has reserved the right to hold one seat in Skoda's Board of Supervisors at least until the end of February 2007.

CZECH-SLOVAK-GOLD

The Czech Republic and Slovakia have completed the division of their former federal assets.

The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman handed over to his Slovak counterpart Mikulas Dzurinda a symbolical , 14-kilogram gold bar, a fragment of the roughly four tons of gold that the Czech central bank transferred to Slovakia last week.

The Slovak premier, who was on a visit to Prague, said that relations between both states had never been better. He said the future of both countries was clearly in their membership in the European Union.

The former federal Czechoslovakia split amicably more than seven years ago but both countries remain united by a customs union. The two prime ministers said on Monday this bond would remain intact until one of the two countries joined the EU.

CZECH-PETROL-PRICES

Petrol and diesel fuel prices went up in the Czech Republic on Tuesday. Ceska Rafinerska, which controls about a half of the Czech fuel market, is rising wholesale prices of its products by between one crown fifty and one crown eighty.

The Ceska Rafinerska spokesman has said that petroleum prices are rising on the world market. He blamed the situation on the strong dollar and the start of the summer motoring season. But he said it was virtually impossible to provide any long-term prediction.

CZECH-HAVEL-SURGERY

The Czech President, Vaclav Havel, will undergo a hernia operation this summer, probably in June.

Havel's office has said that the operation was planned for some time to rid the president of a rupture which was caused by an operation to repair his large intestine two years ago.

Havel underwent two operations because of his damaged large intestine.

His office said the date of the operation would be set after it has been agreed with Austrian surgeon Ernst Bodner. Havel has struggled with a long series of serious health problems since 1996, when he lost a part of his right lung in surgery to remove a malignant tumour.

CZECH-GERMAN-COMPENSATION

The outgoing leader of the Sudeten German association says he sees nothing wrong about the demand for compensating whom he described as the "Sudeten German victims of Czech violence."

Mr. Franz Neubauer said in Munich on Monday the claim had been on the table for at least two years now, there was nothing surprising about it, and it was a mystery why German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Bundestag vice chairperson Antje Vollmer keep saying that the project could damage German interests or even harm relations with Prague.

Sudeten Germans, Czechoslovakia's large pre-war ethnic community, were expelled en masse after World War Two.

CZECH-CIS-VISA

The Czech government has re-imposed the visa requirement on another four countries of the former Soviet Union -- Moldova, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Foreign Minister Jan Kavan also said that a formal visa requirement had been placed on Georgia and Tajikistan.

The government describes these moves as steps to bring the Czech visa policy in line with EU rules.

CZECH-EU-ENLARGEMENT

According to a German study released on Monday, more than 300,000 migrants from central and eastern Europe will enter the European Union immediately after enlargement and the introduction of provisions for the free movement of people between the two regions.

The report, written by a group of independent experts, comes only a few days before EU countries start negotiations on the free movement of labour with the six leading countries seeking EU entry, including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

CZECH-PLANE-DEATH

An airliner flying on the route from Munich to Moscow was forced to make an emergency landing at Prague International Airport on Monday after a patient was taken seriously ill during the flight.

The police said, however, that a 52-year-old Russian-speaking man died soon afterwards in spite of being given first medical aid.

The police said the man apparently died of a heart attack. His body was taken to hospital for an autopsy.

CZECH-WEATHER

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

Tuesday will be a wet day with occasional thunderstorms, early morning lows between five and nine degrees Celsius and afternoon highs between 16 and 20 degrees, dropping to between six and 10 degrees during the night.

On Wednesday, warmer south-eastern air will start pouring into the Czech Republic. We expect some scattered showers but daytime temperatures should be around 23 degrees Celsius.

Thursday's maximum temperatures between 23 and 27 degrees.

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