News Wednesday, APRIL 12th, 2000

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik and here's the news.


The former British Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe said in Prague on Tuesday that all countries bidding for membership of the European Union must hold a referendum on their accession, as well as public debates on what's in it for their citizens.

Sir Geoffrey Howe said Czechs need not be afraid of their country losing its sovereignty as a member state of the EU.

He was speaking in Prague exactly 15 years after his ground-breaking visit to then Communist Czechoslovakia, during which members of his entourage secretly met with leading dissidents, causing embarrassment to the Communist authorities of the day.

Three years later, his example was emulated by the late French President Francois Mitterrand, who invited a group of dissidents to a breakfast during his state visit for talks with the then Czechoslovak President Gustav Husak.


A group of 24 Czech police officers will by end of the week complete antiterrorist training in the United States.

The programme, underway at a police academy in Virginia, is sponsored by the American FBI. But Czech Police spokeswoman Ivana Zelenakova has refuted press speculations that the training is connected in some way with autumn's Prague session of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank


The opposition Czech Senator Jan Ruml says the offer to the American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to become the leader of a coalition of four opposition right-of-centre parties is not without its appeal.

Ms. Albright is Czech by birth and this idea was recently proposed by Senator Michael Zantovsky, a former Czech ambassador to the United States. However, Mr. Ruml said on Tuesday that she should not be the only candidate for the leading post.

Opinion polls show that the coalition, consisting of four smaller right-wing parties, would collect the largest number of the vote if it contested the next parliamentary elections as a single entity.


Senators Michael Zantovsky and Daniel Kroupa of the opposition Civic Democratic Alliance are suing a Prague publisher for releasing an uncommented Czech translation of Mein Kampf -- Adolf Hitler's infamous book that became the Bible of Nazism.

The plaintiffs said on Tuesday that in their view, the publisher, Michal Zitko, committed a criminal act by releasing a book propagating a movement whose proven aim was to have suppress civil rights and liberties.


The wives of the miners on an occupation strike in the North Bohemian Kohinoor brown coal mine have launched a petition asking the government to take action against growing unemployment in the region.

They said unemployment is rampant especially among miners, and there are no jobs in store for most of North Bohemia's school-leavers.

Forty-seven miners have been on strike in their mine shaft for 12 days now, demanding the immediate sale of their uneconomical mine to a private bidder. All their colleagues have joined the strike and all mining has stopped.


Tension is running high also in the LET aerospace manufacturing company in Kunovice, Moravia. Its employees have gone unpaid since February and negotiations with the firm's American director Turner Bostwick have collapsed.

Mr. Bostwick on Tuesday refused to meet his employees at an open-air rally. LET Kunovice was successful in the 1970s and 80s with its technically advanced small turboprop aircraft.


Radio Prague and the British Council are putting the last touches to this year's awards presentation in the national round of their joint English essay competition for Czech secondary school pupils.

At a ceremony on Wednesday, the British Ambassador David Broucher will present valuable prizes to the winners and their essays will be read out on Radio Prague.

This year, the students were invited to write an essay based on the old proverb "Every cloud has a silver lining".


Thirty teenagers from Northern Ireland will spend a week-long summer holiday in July in the ancient town of Litomysl here in the Czech Republic. The organisers of this unusual holiday scheme say the children, aged between 14 and 16, come from areas affected by sectarian violence.

The idea was formulated during President Vaclav Havel's visit to the United Kingdom almost two years ago. The project is coordinated by the Czech embassy in London.


Czech Airlines has resumed scheduled flight to Belgrade after a year-long break. The Czech national flag carrier suspended its flights to Yugoslavia one year ago after NATO launched its air strikes against Milosevic.

Czech Airlines will have two flights a week instead of the planned three, which was rejected by Yugoslavia.


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

A warm southern air intrusion into the Czech Republic will make life quite pleasant on Wednesday. But during the day, a western cold front might make it quite miserable. We are expecting a wet but warm day with maximum temperatures between 13 and 17 degrees Celsius, dropping to between three and seven degrees in the night.

An outlook for Thursday and Friday -- both days will be rather wet and daytime temperatures will be between 12 and 16 Celsius, cooling to around five above zero in the night.