News Tuesday, OCTOBER 19th, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to you from Radio Prague. I´m Rob Cameron, first the news headlines.

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

Zeman to give Klaus´s "super coalition" idea "serious consideration"

The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has said he will give serious consideration to a four-party "super coalition" proposed by the opposition Civic Democrats. Mr Zeman was speaking to reporters after a meeting on Monday evening with Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus. The proposed coalition would consist of the Civic Democrats, Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and Freedom Union, but would not include the third largest party in the lower house, the Communists. The coalition would replace the current "opposition agreement" under which the Civic Democrats support the minority government. The government looks increasingly untenable in the light of a highly critical progress report from the European Union. However observers say the proposal is almost certain to fail, and that a two-party grand coalition between the Social and Civic Democrats is more likely.

CSA: Roma passengers had tickets marked "G" for "Gypsy"

The manager of Czech Airlines at London´s Heathrow Airport, David Thomas, has confirmed that tickets belonging to Roma passengers were until recently marked by staff in order to warn British immigration officials of potential asylum-seekers. Mr Thomas told the Czech News Agency on Monday that airline staff regularly marked tickets with the letter "G" for "Gypsy" if passengers had Romany-sounding names or looked Romany. He claimed the measure was merely meant to alert immigration officials at Heathrow to the arrival of Czech Romanies, who have been applying for asylum in large numbers over recent months citing racial discrimination at home. The airline´s chief representative in London, Ladislav Weidner, said the practice had been discontinued in the spring. He denied allegations of racial discrimination.

Roma leader warns of post-Maticni exodus to Germany

A leading member of the Roma community has warned of a possible exodus to Germany following the completion of a controversial wall in North Bohemia to separate a predominantly Roma housing estate from privately-owned houses. Vaclav Miko said the wall was final proof that there was no place in Czech society for the Roma. The wall, in Usti nad Labem´s Maticni street, was completed by the local council last week despite protests from Roma and human rights groups, the central government in Prague and the European Union. The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said on Monday that the wall would have to be removed. The government has appointed the deputy Interior Minister Pavel Zarecky to negotiate a solution.

Irish President arrives in Prague

The Irish President Mary McAleese arrived in Prague on Monday on the start of a four-day official visit to the Czech Republic. Mrs McAleese is to hold talks with her Czech counterpart Vaclav Havel, Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Chamber of Deputies chairman Vaclav Klaus. Mrs McAleese is returning a visit to Ireland by Mr Klaus, who visited the country four years ago as Prime Minister.

Prague hosts international police conference on fighting racism

A five-day international symposium opened near Prague on Monday on the role of the police in fighting racism and xenophobia. The symposium, which is being attended by eighty police officers from Europe and the United States, was opened this morning by the Czech Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich.

Slovak minister files complaint over Zeman beer slur

And finally the Slovak Agriculture Minister Pavel Koncos has filed an official complaint over remarks by Prime Minister Zeman about Slovak beer. The Czech Prime Minister said that Slovakia´s Poprad beer was only fit for soaking dentures in, and that Slovakia should import more Czech beer.


And just before I go a quick look at the weather. Tuesday will be another clear and cold day, with temperatures reaching a maximum of 10 degrees Celsius in the day-time, dropping to a low of minus four at night.

I'm Rob Cameron and that's the end of the news.