News Tuesday, SEPTEMBER 21st, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Dita Asiedu first let's take a look at the main headlines of the day:

You are tuned to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines, now lets take a look at the news in full:

Cabinet / Budget / Support

The Czech government on Monday afternoon, approved the budget proposal for next year. This will be handed over to Parliament by the end of the month, when MP's will decide whether or not to accept it. Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik said on Monday, that due to a slight improvement in the country's economy, there should be some 23 billion crowns more next year in the state coffers. Nevertheless, he proposed the original deficit figure of 39.7 billion crowns. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is set to get the most money, which will go on fighting the battle against unemployment. Although the cabinet is fairly clear on what it wants, hard times lie ahead, since the main opposition, Civic democratic Party, along with other right wing parties, says it has not yet decided whether or not it will accept the proposal and the Freedom Union has outright rejected the budget as unacceptable.

Kavan / UN / Opinions

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan in New York, attending the 54th general Assembly of the United Nations, spoke on Monday about the doctrine on Nuclear weapons. This comes after NATO has stated that it does not rule out the possibility of using nuclear weapons in a conflict, while German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer indicated recently that this doctrine could change. America as one of the key NATO states has taken a stand against such a change. Jan Kavan said on Monday to reporters that he does not wish to speculate or commit himself on the matter. NATO in Brussels will discuss any possible changes to the doctrine at the end of the year. Jan Kavan also told journalists that he supports United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's efforts at global reform. Mr Kavan said he agrees with Kofi Annan that the United Nations should seek to promote dignity for people and respect for human rights.

UN Envoy / Romanies / CR

Special envoy of the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, Maurice Glele-Ahanhanzo currently in the Czech republic is set to discuss the position of Romanies living in Czech society. Top of his agenda are talks with Deputy Czech Premier Pavel Rychetsky. On Monday he visited the town of Usti nad Labem, where the town council is planning to build a wall separating a Czech residential area from a housing estate predominantly inhabited by Romanies, who do not pay rent.

This comes as Municipal authorities in the town of Usti nad Labem have expressed their disapproval over a government document saying rents are too high in the neighbourhood and focusing on the infamous Maticni street wall. This report was sent to the United Nations in June. An outraged town spokesman told reporters on Monday that the document paints a deceptive picture of the affair and lacks objectivity.

Special envoy of the United Nations Commission for Human rights, Maurice Glele-Ahanhanzo visited Maticni street on Monday and stressed the need for patience and dialogue. The Czech Republic has attracted much criticism abroad for its poor relationship with its Romany community. The infamous Maticni Street wall has been the focus of much media attention with Czech and foreign human rights activists saying the wall violates basic human rights and discriminates against Romanies. After speaking to Maurice Glele-Ahanhanzo, the town mayor said on Monday, that he had mixed feelings, after he was asked whether or not the affair of the wall smacks of various apartheid practices.

Lansky / Resignation / Zeman

The Social Democrat Central Bohemian Committee has formally asked deputy Premier Egon Lansky to resign. Chairman Milan Urban told journalists on Monday that the Committee has sent Mr Lansky a letter, reminding him that he was unable to explain his part in the affair over his bank account in Austria and his poor performance in integrating the country into the European Union. This comes after Egon Lansky has refused to reveal the whereabouts of almost 300 000 US Dollars which passed through the possibly illegal account in 1996. There has as yet been no official comment from Lansky's spokesman. Czech Premier Milos Zeman said on Monday, that he does not intend to let himself be led on the subject by the party's Central Bohemian Committee. He told reporters that he would prefer to judge the matter on the basis of a forthcoming report by the European Commission on the Czech Republic's preparations for European membership. Mr Zeman added that as far as Lansky's controversial bank account in Austria is concerned, he will wait for the results of an investigation by the Czech National Bank.

Adamkus / CR / Visit

Lithuanian President Valdus Adamkus is arriving in the Czech Republic on Tuesday for a two day state visit. During his visit, he will meet with prominent Czech statesmen as well as with President Vaclav Havel. The Lithuanian head of state, is expected to canvas support for his country's entry to NATO and the European Union. Talks will also focus on improving economic ties between Lithuania and the Czech Republic. Although President Adamkus was set to visit Prague five months ago, the trip had to be postponed because of Vaclav Havel's poor health.

Klaus / Burglary / Millions

A Prague investigator said on Monday that four million crowns worth of property was stolen at the weekend, when the villa of Chairman of the Czech Parliament Vaclav Klaus was burgled. He said that most of the stolen goods came from Livia Klaus' jewellery collection. A spokeswoman for the bureau of investigation said no further details will be released.

Havel / Slovakia / Visit

Czech President Vaclav Havel on Monday, concluded his state visit to Slovakia. He left Bratislava on Monday, with his Slovak counterpart for the town of Kosice. President Havel expressed hopes over the weekend that Czech - Slovak relations will finally become closer after dialogue faltered in recent years, due to property disputes. On Monday morning, the President laid flowers at the memorial to the Slovak National Uprising and received a prize from Slovak President Rudolf Schuster for his work as a dissident and promoter of European integration. In Kosice President Havel met members of the Czech community before returning to Prague in the early evening.

And we end as usual with a brief look at the weather:

The weather will take a turn for the cooler on Tuesday, with cloudy skies and daytime temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius. There will almost certainly be rain over Prague and scattered showers during the night, with temperatures dropping to 12 degrees Celsius.

I'm Dita Asiedu and that's the end of the news.