News Wednesday, JUNE 30th, 1999

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Nick Carey and this is the news. First, a look at the headlines.

Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail:

Zeman will not reveal supposed backers of Zieleniec

Prime Minister Milos Zeman has refused to name the four public relations agencies that he claims former Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec used to bolster his image during the previous centre-right government. Last week Zeman claimed that Zieleniec paid for this out of state funds. He said he will not publicise the names of the companies involved on the request of Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, who apparently wants to discuss the matter with Zieleniec first. Zieleniec has denied this claim, and said on Monday that this situation is typical of contemporary Czech politics. He called on Zeman and Kavan to sort out their own problems, rather than dragging his name through the mud unnecessarily.

Foreign Ministry regrets death sentence

The death sentence that has been meted out to Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan by a Turkish court has met with criticism in the Czech Republic. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed regret on Monday at the death sentence and, according to spokesman Ales Pospisil, the ministry hopes that the sentence will not be carried out. The ministry also stated that it does not believe that the death sentence belongs in Europe at the end of the twentieth century. President Havel expressed the same concerns and said that he hopes the execution of Ocalan will not take place. Prime Minister Milos Zeman stated that if Tirkey wants to join the European Union, then it is undoubtedly aware that part of the norms for membership is that the death sentence is outlawed.

Parliament dismisses motion to repeal equal sex rights law

The Czech parliament has dismissed a motion to repeal a law passed last year that grants equal rights to same sex relations. Thanks to this law, homosexual partners are now granted most of the same rights as heterosexual marriages, including inheritance, tax allowances for their partners and the right to find out information about the condition of their partner when in hospital. The parliamentary deputies who proposed that the law be repealed claim that it stands to weaken traditional family values in the Czech Republic. Supporters of the law say that there is no reason part of the population should have fewer rights simply because of their sexual orientation.

Foreign Ministry does not approve of Havel's trip, but does not criticise it

The Czech Foreign Ministry has stated that its did not approve President Vaclav Havel's trip to Kosovo, unlike his trip to Albania, which received full approval. This is because the province is still a sovereign part of Yugoslavia, albeit with a certain degree of autonomy. The ministry, however, emphasised that it does not want to criticise the president in any way. President Havel is the head of state, and has every right to decide when and where he goes, said ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil.

Czech embassy to reopen in Belgrade

The Czech embassy is to reopen in Belgrade on Wednesday. This follows a gap of three months after the Czech embassy, along with those of other states, closed down due to the conflict in Kosovo. The Czech ambassador, Ivan Busniak, has gone on ahead of the rest of the embassy staff, so that the flag will be flying when the embassy opens officially. Throughout the conflict the Czech Republic, unlike Great Britain and the United States, did not break off diplomatic relations with Belgrade.

Mayor of Usti nad Labem has asked parliament to make a decision on wall

The Mayor of Usti nad Labem has cancelled the measure to build a controversial wall that would separate a predominantly Roma housing estate from the Czech community, and asked parliament to make a decision on the matter. The council in Usti nad Labem claims that the wall should be built to protect paying residents from the noise made by non-paying residents. Czech and foreign opponents of the wall, including the government, say that wall would be a breach of human rights. The Czech government recommended in May that the wall should not be built.

Police not doing enough to fight fascism

A new opinion carried by the IVVM public opinion institute shows that almost seventy five percent majority of Czechs asked do not believe that the police are doing enough to fight fascism. Over ninety percent of respondents said that they believe fascist groups are dangerous. Only one fifth of those asked are satisfied with the actions of the police. Almost half of those asked said that the rise in fascism is caused by the dissatisfaction of the members of these groups.

No official complaint from Belgrade

The Czech Republic has not yet received any official complaint from the Yugoslav government in Belgrade over President Vaclav Havel's visit to Kosovo at the weekend. This follows sharp criticism of the visit by the Yugoslav state press agency Tanjug on Monday. The report quoted a foreign ministry official in Belgrade as saying that Havel had violated international conventions by visiting the province without consulting the Yugoslav authorities. The Yugoslav embassy in Prague has stated that Kosovo is an integral part of the sovereign and independent state of Yugoslavia, and a visa must be obtained to visit this province. The embassy, though, did nit lodge an official complaint. The Czech foreign ministry expects that an official complaint will come sooner or later.

Czechs believe higher prices for foreigners are wrong

A new opinion poll carried by the public opinion agency Factum shows that the majority of Czechs do not approve of price differentiation for foreigners. Fifty- five percent of those asked said it is wrong for foreigners to pay more for services than Czechs. Forty percent believe that foreigners should pay more.

Ten percent of Czech companies ready for the year 2000

Roughly ten percent of Czech companies are now ready to face the technological problems of moving into the next millennium. The Y2K problem faces all companies with computers that were not originally designed to go beyond the year 1999. This information comes from a survey, organised by PriceWaterhouse Coopers, the National Security Office and the magazine Data Security Management, of over three hundred Czech companies employing over one hundred people. The survey also shows that over half of the companies involved have not yet even entered the test phase necessary to face the millennium, and this is the most time consuming part of the process. According to the survey's organisers, this puts the Czech Republic far behind developed countries.

And finally the weather. The forecast for today is slightly overcast skies with a possibility of scattered rain showers later on. And that was the news.