Daily news summary News Monday, DECEMBER 20th, 1999

20-12-1999

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

CZECH-ENGINEERING-STRIKE

All work stopped at Prague's CKD Transport Systems company on Monday morning after trade unions called a one-day warning strike over delayed pays.

Our correspondent says CKD owes its employees nearly 80 million crowns, or almost 2.5 million dollars, in unpaid wages.

The unions asked CKD's 1,600 workers to assemble outside the parliament building on Tuesday to press for their demands.

Most employees have been laid off and receive around 80 percent of their wages. But some were still at work on Friday, completing trams for a Bulgarian customer.

CZECH-POLITICS

Czech shadow foreign minister Jan Zahradil alleged on Sunday that the downfall of the right-of- centre government two years ago may have been brought about by eastern spy networks.

Speaking on private TV NOVA, Zahradil alleged that the collapse of ex-premier Vaclav Klaus's coalition government in 1997 shortly before the Czech Republic was to sign the Washington Treaty and join NATO cannot have been accidental.

He accused East European intelligence agencies of infiltrating the Czech government structures. Officially, the cabinet collapsed after two smaller parties left the cabinet, accusing their main coalition partner, the Civic Democrats, of unfair financial operations.

CZECH-HAVEL-VATICAN

President Vaclav Havel shortened his visit to Rome on Sunday and flew back home, citing exhaustion . But his personal doctor said there was no need to fear any viral infection. He said Havel needed some rest.

During his visit to the Vatican, Havel said his country had created the conditions for signing an agreement with the Holy See which would codify the Czech Republic's relations with the Vatican.

Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Palous, who accompanied Havel, told the Czech news agency CTK that his country has decided to open talks with the Holy See which would result in a framework agreement next year.

Earlier, Havel praised Pope John Paul II for expressing deep regret over the execution of Czech preacher and religious reformer John Huss, who was burned at the stake in 1415 after being accused of heresy at the Council of Constance.

The Czech First Lady Dagmar Havlova laid wreathes at a sculpture on Rome's Jan Palach Square, named after the Czech student who burned himself to death in 1969 in protest against his country's occupation by Warsaw Pact troops.

CZECH-SENATOR-DRUGS

Prague police said on Sunday it has accused a senator's son of drug trafficking.

The police said 15-year-old Jonas Zantovsky, son Senator Michael Zantovsky, a former Czech ambassador to Washington, was released from custody at the weekend, pending trial.

He was detained on Friday, together with another two teenagers when police found marijuana on them.

Senator Zantovsky has denied that his son was caught while selling drugs.

CZECH-BANKS-Y2K

The Czech Central Bank said on Sunday the banking sector was ready to face problems associated with its computer network compatibility with the start of the year 2000.

The bank's spokesman said the Czech system had reached the same level of the Millennium Bug preparedness as the EU countries.

But he admitted that inter-bank accounting procedures would be suspended on December 31 and then also on January 3.

Our correspondent says the Millennium Bug could cause problems to older computer networks which may not cope well with transition to double-zero digits.

CZECH-RUSSIA-HOCKEY

Ice hockey -- and the Czech Republic on Sunday drew with Russia one goal each in their penultimate match at this year's Baltic Cup in Moscow.

The Czechs are now holding second place after Russia. Their last appearance at the unofficial world championships is scheduled for Monday afternoon. They will play against Canada.

CZECH-WEATHER

And we end as usual with a brief weather report.

The cold-air intrusion into the Czech Republic will continue on Monday, which will be a clear day with maximum daytime temperatures between -3 and +1 degrees Celsius, dropping to between 5 and 10 degrees below freezing at night.

Tuesday and Wednesday will be very cold days, with early morning lows between 5 and 10 degrees below zero and daytime highs between -4 and zero Celsius.

I am Libor Kubik and that’s the end of the news.

20-12-1999