News Wednesday, JUNE 10th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-News, June 10, 1998, Vladimir Tax

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.

Air crash caused by one of the pilots

The main cause of Monday's collision of two MiG-21s fighter jets over Ceske Budejovice, south Bohemia, was pilot error, airforce spokesman Petr Fajl told CTK. He said the pilot failed to manoeuvre the plane in foggy conditions. Other circumstances of the accident are still being investigated.

Czech Army chief of staff Jiri Sedivy said the pilot who caused the accident will probably be criminally prosecuted but did not specify possible sanctions from the army.

The two aircraft collided during a training flight on Monday morning. The crews ejected in time and are being treated in hospital. One of the aircraft came down on a housing estate in Ceske Budejovice, causing slight injuries to seven civilians and enormous material damage.

Balazova/Republicans

Czech Radio Reporter Jarmila Balazova has decided to file a lawsuit against the Republican party for their election campaign. In her opinion, their campaign attacking the Romany minority verges on racism.

In their campaign, the Republicans describe Romanies as a parasitical ethnic group.

The state attorney in Prague has already received a complaint lodged by the daily newspaper LIDOVE NOVINY which claims that the Republican campaign is in violation of the law.

Mlynar / ambassadors / Romanies

Minister without portfolio Vladimir Mlynar, who also heads the Ministerial commission for Romany issues, met with ambassadors from EU members states on Tuesday to explain the situation of the Romany minority in the Czech Republic. The ambassadors stressed the necessity to respect human rights if a country wants to join the EU.

Minister Mlynar said the picture of the Czech republic drawn in foreign media was distorted and informed the ambassadors about government programmes aimed at helping the Romanies integrate into society and solving their main problems, namely low education and bad employment opportunities.

European Commission ambassador to Prague, Joannes Ter Haar, told reporters after the meeting that Brussels was prepared to provide financial suport for such programmes amounting to about two million ECU.

Czech Republic offers more humanitarian aid to Afghanistan

The Czech Foreign Ministry has decided to send 20,000 dollars worth of humanitarian aid to the earthquake victims in Afghanistan, the ministry's spokesman, Rudolf Hykl, told CTK.

The earthquake hit the North Afghan provinces of Takhar and Badakhshan and the area near the city of Faizabad on the 30th of May.

Foreign Ministry approves of sanctions against Serbia

The Czech Ministry of foreign affairs approves of EU sanctions against Serbia imposed because of the latest developments in the Kosovo enclave. The Czech ministry considers the measures adequate and expects the EU to ask the Czech Republic to honor the sanctions.

The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions against Serbia including a ban on foreign investment and warned it may extend the measures unless Serbia stops using force in Kosovo and starts looking for a political solution to the crisis.

Dissatisfaction with politics

Czech citizens' dissatisfaction with the current political scene remains high. According to the latest opinion poll conducted by the Institute for Public Opinion Research, 78 percent of those asked did not like the political situation, while only 18 percent approved of it.

For comparison, the Institute said that before the previous parliamentary elections in 1996, only about a third of Czechs were dissatisfied with the political situation in the country.

Opinion poll results

Another opinion poll, conducted by the Sofres-Factum agency, indicated that the Social Democrats would win the elections with 28 percent of the vote and the Civic Democratic Party would end second with 17 percent.

Third are the communists with stable support of nine percent, followed by the Pensioners party, whose popularity has dropped five percent since March to the current 7.

The other parties that would make it into the chamber of deputies are the Republicans, the Freedom Union and the Christian Democrats.

Internet/access

Only about ten percent of Czechs have access to the internet and 40 percent have no idea that it exists. Renowned sociologist Ivan Gabal said this during an on-line conference on Tuesday.

Minister Vladimir Mlynar of the Freedom Union said that his party was preparing a National Programme of Computer Literacy because it expects not only all public institutions to be interconnected via the internet but also make it possible for citizens to communicate with state administration bodies by e-mail.

EBRD enters Czech banks

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has purchased about 12 percent of the shares in the largest Czech bank Ceska Sporitelna, it was announced on Tuesday.

The EBRD is also considering buying stakes in other Czech banks, namely, Obchodni and Agrobanka.

The state still holds large stakes in some of the biggest Czech banks and the cabinet has already approved a plan to sell them to strategic partners.

Czech defmin to take part in North Atlantic Council meeting

Czech Defence minister Michal Lobkowicz is to take part on Thursday in a joint session of the North Atlantic Council, West European Union general secretary and defence ministers of the countries invited to join NATO in the first wave.

Minister Lobkowicz will also attend the NATO Council for Defence Planning which is to discuss the overall building of NATO forces in 1998.

Czech weather report

And finally, a quick look at the weather. On Wednesday, a cold front will start influencing weather in the Czech Republic. We are expecting a mostly cloudy day with scattered showers, afternoon highs should range from 25 to 29 degrees Celsius. On Thursday and Friday it should also be cloudy but much colder, with temperatures between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.