News Wednesday, OCTOBER 18th, 2000

By Daniela Lazarova

Forum 2000 on Middle East peace crisis

The participants of Forum 2000, an intellectual gathering of prominent world philosophers, economists and politicians , have called for a peaceful resolution to violence in the Middle East through twin political and civil tracks. The four day intellectual summit being held at Prague Castle under the auspices of President Havel, has been overshadowed by the Middle East peace crisis. Speaking at Tuesday's session, the former Israeli Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Shimon Perez welcomed the deal made at Sharm el Sheik . It is "a pale agreement" Mr. Perez said "but I prefer a pale agreement rather than a clear cut disagreement." The former prime minister noted that politics was based on making compromises and that he was convinced that despite the recent flair-up of violence both nations wanted to achieve lasting peace. "It is a question of WHEN not IF" he said.

Visa requirements imposed on 4 more states

The Czech Republic is about to impose visa requirements on four other former Soviet Republics. As of Sunday, October 22nd, the nationals of Kazachstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldavia and Turkmenistan will need a visa to enter the Czech Republic. In approving this measure the Czech authorities are bringing the country in line with EU norms.

Visa-restricted travel has already been imposed on Russian, Belarussian and Ukrainian nationals. The countries in question have all effected reciprocal measures and the Czech Foreign Ministry has warned Czechs travelling to this part of the world to arrange for their visas well in advance.

National Power wants to buy CEZ

The British energy company National Power is in the running for a majority share of the Czech power giant CEZ. The British ambassador to Prague Mr. David Broucher told the CTK news agency that while National Power did not have direct experience with nuclear power it could easily work with several British companies which do have the necessary expertise. We have been assured that all parties have a fair chance in this tender, Broucher told reporters. However, some experts quoted by the CTK say that Elekricite de France is a hot favourite due to its prior experience with nuclear power management. The Czech government decided earlier this month to sell its majority share in the Czech power giant. The cost has been estimated at around 100 billion crowns.

Latvian Foreign Minister in Prague

Visiting Latvian Foreign Minister Indulis Berzinsh has been meeting with Czech top officials in Prague. Underlining the importance the Czech Republic attaches to good relations with the Baltic states, Czech President Vaclav Havel on Tuesday received the visiting foreign minister at Prague Castle. The talks focussed mainly on the state of bilateral relations and Latvia's ambition to join NATO and the European Union. The Czech Republic has promised to support all three Baltic states in this endeavor and share its know-how in implementing the necessary reforms.

2001 state budget proposal to be debated on Thursday

It has been announced that the proposed 2001 state budget is to go into its first reading in Parliament on Thursday, October 19th. The CTK news agency reports that the debate in the Lower House is to be preceded by behind-the-scenes talks between leaders of the governing Social Democrats and their opposition allies of the Civic Democratic Party. In drafting the proposed state budget for 2001 the minority Social Democrat government has had to meet certain conditions put down by the Civic Democrats. Economic experts predict that although they will push their advantage further the Civic Democrats will eventually give it their backing, allowing the Social Democrats to remain in office .

Czechs just average in bed

An international sex survey has shown Czechs to be average lovers. Condom- manufacturer Durex has conducted a survey on the sex-life of 18,000 people around the world and ascertained that Americans top the ladder when it comes to sexual-prowess , followed closely by the Russians . While Americans claim to have sex 132 times a year on average Czechs only get around to it 99 times, which puts them mid-way down the ladder. Czechs have an average 8 sex partners during their lifetime and start out fairly late as well – on average at 18 years old.

Finally a look at the weather:

Wednesday should bring overcast skies and scattered showers across most of the Czech Republic. Day temps between 12 and 16 degs. C.