Daily news summary News Monday, MAY 17th, 1999

17-05-1999

Hello and welcome to the programme. I´m Rob Cameron, first a look at the headlines.

And now for the news in more detail.

BIS says no evidence of Austrian green attack on Temelin

The Czech counter-intelligence service, the BIS, has said it has no indications that Austrian environmental groups are planning a terrorist attack on the Temelin nuclear power station in South Bohemia. The newspaper Pravo quoted an anonymous BIS officer on Saturday as saying that radical environmentalists in Austria were collaborating with counterparts in the Czech Republic to plan an attack on the plant. Both Austrian and Czech environmental organisations have said the allegations are absurd, while Upper Austria´s commissioner for nuclear affairs said they were part of a deliberate campaign of disinformation by the Czech nuclear power lobby. The Czech government announced on Wednesday that Temelin would be completed by the year 2000, ignoring protests from environmental groups, who say the plant is unsafe. Austria has reacted angrily to the decision, with Chancellor Viktor Klima warning that it could affect Prague´s bid to join the European Union.

Klaus and Ruml meet to discuss coalition

The leaders of two of the main right-wing opposition parties are meeting today to discuss the creation of a new centre-right coalition. Jan Ruml, chairman of the Freedom Union, will meet Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus, to discuss alternatives to the current minority Social Democrat government. Ruml, who requested the meeting, has suggested the formation of a new majority centre- right government made up of the Civic Democrats, the Freedom Union and the centrist Christian Democrats. The Christian Democrats´ stance on a new centre- right coalition remains unclear, and Klaus said today that he expected the party to clarify its position after today´s meeting with Ruml. Klaus was the leader of successive centre-right governments until 1997, when the cabinet fell apart over a funding scandal in his party.

Czechs win ice-hockey championships

The Czech Republic have won the 1999 world ice-hockey championship. The Czech team scored a golden goal in the closing minutes of extra time in a nail-biting final against Finland on Sunday. The Czech Republic won the first leg of the two-match final on Saturday, but ended the second leg 4:1 down at the end of regular time, forcing a 20-minute sudden death decider. This is the second time in the Czech Republic´s six-year history as an independent country that the team has won the title. The Czech ice-hockey team won a gold medal at last year's Nagano Olympics. Crowds poured onto Prague´s Wenceslas Square following the victory, and celebrations lasted into the early hours of the morning. The team, who received telegrams of congratulation from the president and the prime minister, are due to arrive home in Prague this afternoon.

Czech Republic and Slovakia reach breakthrough in property disputes

The Czech Republic and Slovakia say they have made important progress in negotiations over the division of former Czechoslovak federal property. Premier Milos Zeman said after meeting his Slovak counterpart on Saturday that the first of four disputes over former federal property had now been resolved. The dispute concerned the two countries´ shares in each others´ central banks. Zeman told reporters that experts involved in negotiations had been given two weeks to draw up an agreement on the exchange of shares in the two banks. Zeman said he was convinced all outstanding disputes would be settled by the end of the year.

Havel planning trip to Balkans

President Vaclav Havel has announced he is to visit the Balkans in June. Havel did not release details of his trip, but it is believed he plans to visit Albania and Macedonia, which are providing shelter to hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo. Havel said he wanted to see for himself what more could be done to ease the suffering of the refugees. The Macedonian president Kiro Gligorov is due to visit Prague at the beginning of June.

Romany education coordinator calls for lessons in Romany

The Education Ministry´s coordinator for Romany education has said Romany pupils should have the right to be educated in their mother tongue. Speaking at a conference in Prague on Sunday, she suggested that lessons in the Romany language could be offered as optional subjects at primary school. There are estimated to be some 300,000 Roma in the Czech Republic, many of whom do not speak Czech as a first language. Sociologists and Romany activists say this puts them at an instant disadvantage to their Czech fellow pupils when they enter the education system.

Havel criticises Usti nad Labem over Maticni street wall

There has been fresh criticism by President Havel over a plan to build a controversial wall to divide a street in the North Bohemian city of Usti nad Labem. The wall is to separate Romany rent-defaulters living in tenement buildings on one side of the street from white house-dwellers living on the other. The house-dwellers have complained about noise and rubbish produced by the Romanies, while the Romanies themselves say they were moved into the tenements against their will. Havel criticised remarks by the city´s mayor, who described a study of the street carried out by Havel´s Vision 97 foundation as unnecessary. The study claimed that the wall had turned a social problem into a racial issue. The decision to build the wall has been universally condemned by human rights groups both in the Czech Republic and abroad.

Weather

A quick look at the weather, Monday will be mostly clear and sunny, with daytime temperatures reaching a maximum of 17 degrees Celsius and falling to as low as 3 degrees in places at night.

And just before we go, a quick note to say that Radio Prague´s transmitter at Litomysl will be undergoing routine maintenance on Tuesday May the 18th and will be out of operation from six hours to eleven hours UTC. Unfortunately we won´t be able to bring you our English programmes at seven hours, nine hours and ten thirty hours UTC on Tuesday

That´s all from the newsroom, from me Rob Cameron, goodbye

17-05-1999