News Tuesday, NOVEMBER 02th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Civic and Christian Democrats fail to agree on coalition

The opposition Civic Democratic Party and the Christian Democratic Union have failed to reach an agreement on the formation of a majority government coalition. Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus failed to convince Christian Democrat chairman Jan Kasal about the usefulness of the so-called super grand coalition of all parliamentary parties except the Communists. The leaders of the other two partis concerned, the Social Democrats and the Freedom Union, had also turned Klaus's plan down.

Interior ministry aims to dissolve two extremist organisations

The interior ministry has taken steps to dissolve two extreme nationalist organisations which have broken the law. These are the Nationalist Front and the National Alliance. Interior minister Vaclav Grulich explained that the ministry must first ask the organisations to explain their actions and declare that they will not break the law again. Only if they fail to do so, is the ministry entitled to dissolve them.

Zieleniec calls on SocDem to judge Zeman's style

Former foreign minister Josef Zieleniec has called on the leaders of the ruling Social Democratic Party to distance themselves from a scandal initiated by party chairman, premier Milos Zeman and Foreign Minister Jan Kavan. Several months ago, the two government officials accused Zieleniec, a foreign minister in the previous right-wing governments, of having bribed journalists to promote himself. Zeman and Kavan promised to submit evidence to prove this but they have failed to do so. Zieleniec urged deputy leaders and other leading Social Democrats to state openly whether they really agree with Milos Zeman and Jan Kavan's actions in this affair.

Parliament to discuss changes in constitution

At its session later today, the lower house of Czech parliament, the Chamber of Deputies will begin discussing the constitutional changes proposed by the ruling Social Democratic Party and the senior opposition Civic Democratic Party. The two parties propose changes to the electoral system and the limitation of presidential powers. They occupy 137 seats in the 200-seat legislature, which is enough to pass the changes. However, heated debates are expected in the lower house on the issue, because the other parties are strongly opposed to the ammendments.

Skinheads attack Romany family in sleep - TV Nova

A group neo-nazi skinheads attacked a Romany family in the town of Kolin, central Bohemia, on Monday night. TV Nova reported that a group consisting of six members of the skinhead movement, armed with iron bars, attacked the Demeters family in their house at around 4:00 a.m. when everybody in the house was asleep. They threw a heavy steel object into a children's room. The family fled through a back door. Nobody was injured in the incident.

Premier Zeman rejects compensations for Sudeten Germans

Czech Premier Milos Zeman has rejected property claims from Sudeten Germans who were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II. Zeman also said in an interview for a German radio station that once the Czech Republic joins the European Union, Sudeten Germans will be able to move to the Czech Republic. He said though that, in his opinion, citizens from the current EU member states should not be allowed to purchase land and property in the Czech Republic for a limited period of time, before the price difference levels out.

State budget deficit low in October

The state budget at the end of October showed a deficit of 7.4 billion crowns. Finance ministry spokesperson said it was one billion less than in the previous month. However, she said that state organisations tend to invest more towards the end of the year, so the budget deficit is expected to reach 40 billion crowns.

Czech Rep. and Latvia agree on closer ties

The Czech Republic and Latvia have agreed on closer cooperation. The two countries signed a resolution on "further development of relations" as well as agreements on agriculture and education. A Latvian foreign ministry official said the country aims to sign such bilateral agreements in order to gradually integrate itself and redirect trade into Western and Central Europe. Czech premier Milos Zeman is leading a delegation of five cabinet ministers and 42 private businessmen on a three-day visit to Latvia.

Latvian premier Andris Skele said that the Czech Republic, as a new member of NATO along with Poland and Hungary, can instruct Latvia on how to prepare to join the military alliance.

Engine drivers: strike alert

Czech Railway engineers went on a strike alert on Monday. The reason is the railway management decision to increase wages this year less than originally agreed between management and the Trade Unions. Foreman of the engineers' trade union told reporters that the strike alert will not necessarily end in a strike, as there are other ways to push the employer to fulfil its promises.

Energy monopoly profit down 90%

For the first three quarters of this year, the monopoly electricity producer CEZ has reported a net profit nearly 90 percent lower than in the same period last year. The company said that in order to generate a profit this year, it needed a decrease in electricity consumption and a slight depreciation of the Czech crown.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather forecast. On Tuesday, the influence of a high pressure area over Central Europe will weaken, and a cold front will move to the region from the West. We are expecting a partially cloudy day, with fog in the morning or low cloud formations in some places, and the possibility of scattered showers later in the day. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 12 to 16 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.