Daily news summary News Sunday, DECEMBER 19th, 1999

19-12-1999

CZECH-PARTY-POLITICS

The ruling Czech Social Democrats said on Saturday that the main-opposition Civic Democrats were running afoul of the power-sharing pact between the two parties and that the Social Democrats were seeking urgent reconciliation talks.

The Social Democrats said they'd be sending Prime Minister Milos Zeman along with several top party officials to the talks.

The Civic Democrats reacted by saying Zeman's party wants to distract the public from other, more pressing problems the government is facing.

The move follows one week after Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus warned the Social Democrats in a letter that their government is poor.

The so-called "Opposition Agreement" the two parties signed after an inconclusive parliamentary election in 1998 enabled the Social Democrats to form a minority cabinet .

CZECH-BELGIUM-ILLEGALS

Belgian and Czech Officials are investigating a travel agency in Prague suspected of illegal trafficking in refugees.

The Belgian daily De Morgen said on Saturday it had obtained promotional materials from the Prague-based East-West Express travel agency, which had offered to smuggle adults to Western Europe for 2,500 dollars per person and for free in the case of children under 16 years.

The agency promised potential clients hotel accommodation and legal services, saying that with that, its clients would not really be refugees. The paper said police in both countries were acting after having found a suspicious leaflet on one East European illegal migrant.

CZECH-HAVEL-VATICAN

Czech President Vaclav Havel has 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.

Havel on Saturday told the Pontiff during a private audition that his bold statement had undone a gross injustice committed by the Church against the Czech nation. He expressed hope that the latest move will help reconcile Czechs with the Roman Catholic Church.

The Pope thanked the Czech delegation for the giant Christmas Tree from Moravia, which is now decorating the famous Saint Peter's Square.

CZECH-CHINA-PM

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, who on Saturday ended his official visit to China, said in Beijing that his country respects China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and considers Taiwan an integral part of the People's Republic.

Zeman, whose mission to China and before that Vietnam was described as mainly economic, faced thinly veiled criticism in Beijing for Prague's hosting in the past years the Dalai Lama -- Tibet's spiritual leader, and the vice president of Taiwan, which China considers its renegade province.

Zeman told his Chinese hosts that both visits had been private and unofficial.

CZECH-HOCKEY-BAN

Ice hockey -- and in Zurich, Czech under-20 international Michal Travnicek was banned for three years on Friday for a serious high-sticking offence.

The International Ice Hockey Federation said at the weekend that Travnicek struck Sweden's Mattias Weinhandl near the left eye with the blade of his stick during a match in Finland on November 13, after the Swede hooked him at hip level and brought him down.

The suspension ruled out Travnicek until December 31, 2002.

CZECH-WEATHER

And we end as usual with a brief weather report.

After a brief spell of warmer but also very wet weather on Saturday, we are expecting sleet and snow all across the Czech Republic on Sunday, with daytime highs between -3 and +1 degrees Celsius, dropping to between 5 and 10 degrees below freezing at night.

The cold-air intrusion will continue through Monday, which is reported to be a clear day with maximum daytime temperatures between -4 and zero Celsius.

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

19-12-1999