News Tuesday, SEPTEMBER 14th, 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.

Lansky: no delay in Prague's EU admission

Czech deputy premier Egon Lansky said he had been assured once again by Germany that there was no imminent danger of the Czech Republic being removed from the first group of EU mebership candidates.

On Monday, Lansky met high-ranking German officials, including the Minister for European Affairs Hans-Otto Braeutigam who is also an EU commissioner of all German lands and the German Chancellor's foreign political adviser and former ambassador to the Czech Republic, Michael Steiner, as well as for example former German President Richard von Weizsaecker.

Lansky said that Mr. Steiner had refuted reports by some media that the Czech Republic should be deleted from the first group of EU candidates. He said that if there were any change, then, in the extreme case, a country in the second group could after some time be transferred to the first group."

Havel condemns terrorist attacks in Russia

President Vaclav Havel is gravely concerned over the terrorist attacks which have taken place in Moscow recently. His spokesman Ladislav Spacek has told reporters that the president is resolutely against any form of terrorism and considers all acts of this type unjustifiable, The third in a series of terrorist attacks in Moscow over the past month occurred on Monday. Dozens have been found dead in the ruins of an eight-floor brick apartment house, but the number of victims is expected to be higher.

The Czech president has also expressed his deepest sympathies with the victims of the attacks and their families, He he believes that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

GDP heads up

The Czech economy has showed signs of revival in the second quarter of this year. The Czech Statistics Office has announced that the Gross Domestic Product in this period rose by 0.3 percent year-on-year in real terms. This is the first rise after a series of five consecutive declines. In the first half of 1999 alone, the GDP dropped 4.5 per cent.

Czech Republic submits data for EC progress report

The Czech Republic has handed over to the European Commission the last part of data to be reflected in the commission's report evaluating the Czech Republic's preparedness for EU admission. The Czech chief negotiator with the EU, Pavel Telicka, said that the report was already practically complete, and would in all probability be passed and published on October 13." The fine-tuning is in the fields of corruption and business disputes, Telicka said.

Last year's report was critical of the Czech Republic's pace of preparation in a number of areas. Telicka thinks that this year, the report is also likely to be negative in some of the fields that are substantial from the point of view of the integration into the EU, for example the judicial system.

The contents of the report are strictly confidential but according to information available to the CTK agency, the progress made by the Czech Republic will be assessed most critically of all the candidate countries.

Czech Foreign Ministry sets up fund for Turkey

The Czech Foreign Ministry has launched a public fundraiser to help repair some of the damage caused by the recent earthquake in Turkey. Foreing Ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil said that the proceeds will be used for renewal and refurbishing of schools in the area around the town of Goelcuek. Some of the funds will be spent on prefabricated houses and other temporary accommodation as a shelter for the winter period. The Foreign Ministry will coordinate the use of the raised funds with the Czech Red Cross.

Former FNM chief prosecuted

Former head of the National Property Fund Roman Ceska has been charged with the violation of duties in the management of other persons' property. Sona Jindrakova from the Investigation Bureau said that the charges were filed in connection with the privatisation of the Kralovopolske strojirny engineering group. According to available information, Ceska has violated the law by returning the almost 50-million crown non-refundable privatisation deposit to the Brno-based Kenap Kralovopolska Group company. Ceska headed the FNM between June 1994 and October 1998.

Klaus vs. Havel ctd.

Lower house speaker Vaclav Klaus has accused president Havel of trying to usurp as much power as possible. In Klaus's opinion, this is the reason why Havel has been rejecting changes in the constitution as proposed by the two strongest parties, the ruling Social Democrats and main opposition Civic Democrats.

In an interview for Monday's edition of the weekly magazine Tyden, Klaus said he saw Havel's stance as rational but not beneficial for the country. Havel has repeated several times that he did not like the proposed changes and that he could not imagine carrying out his duties if the changes were adopted. The changes include the limiting of the presidential powers concerning the appointment of the members of the Czech National Bank board and the Supreme Court. The president's right to grant clemency would also be newly defined.

Govt to support only successful companies

The government will focus its industrial policy on supporting successful companies, premier Milos Zeman said on Monday at the opening of the 41st International Industrial Fair in the city of Brno. Zeman said that the government will support the expansion of Czech companies to foreign markets instead of livening up the domestic demand as a way to increase local consumption. The premier stressed that the government was not going to subsidize ineffective companies any longer. He also criticized "pseudo-captains" of industry who in cooperation with careless banks caused the current unfavourable situation and he recalled that the state had helped some companies which later found themselves in trouble again due to bad management. The government will therefore replace the management of such companies and seek reliable foreign partners.

Shelton to visit Czech Republic

Chairman of the US army joint chiefs of staff Henry Shelton is to visit the Czech Republic this week. The main item on his agenda is the further development of military cooperation between the Czech Republic and the United States. Shelton will meet with Czech army chief of staff Jiri Sedivy and defence minister Vladimir Vetchy to discuss the incorporation of the Czech army into NATO structures and developments in South-Eastern Europe. General Shelton will also be received by president Vaclav Havel.

Industrial and construction prices up in August

Industrial prices in August rose by 1.2 percent year-on-year as compared to 0.5 percent in July, the Czech Statistics Office announced on Monday. Prices in the construction sector in August went up almost 4 percent year-on-year, and prices in agriculture production dropped by more than 17 percent.

Experts see the industrial price index as unexpectedly high and attribute it mainly to the fluctuation of oil prices. Czech National Bank spokesman Martin Svehla said that the results for August will not affect the monetary policy, but if the growth of industrial prices continues, it may be reflected in the consumer price index in the next period.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather forecast. Weather in the Czech republic is still influenced by a weakening high-pressure area. We are expecting a mostly clear day. Morning fogs may occur in some places. Nighttime lows should hover around 10 degrees Celsius, afternoon highs will range from 24 to 28 degrees Celsius. For the next two days, a low pressure area from the West will start influencing the weather in the Czech Republic, bringing some showers, especially in the West of the country. The highest daytime temperatures are expected to remain around 25 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.