Havel - Kosovo
President Vaclav Havel spoke on Czech radio Wednesday evening about the situation in Kosovo, saying that what worried him most was the international community's late response to it. He pointed out that some 9 months ago, at a meeting of Central European presidents in Vienna, he had voiced his concern about the explosive situation in the province, but saw no reaction at all. "I have always preferred the policy of averting conflicts by taking preventive measures," Havel said. He also expressed regret that Russian prime minister Primakov's latest mission to Belgrade had failed to bring any tangible results, but added he's not losing hope that there might be further negotiations with the Yugoslav leadership which might return the conflict to the political level.
The Czech TV-sponsored "Man in Need" Foundation and the Czech Catholic charity will send a humanitarian consignment for Kosovo refugees. A truck loaded with food, medical supplies, blankets and clothes will be sent next week to the Bajram Curi region in Northern Albania, where most Kosovo refugees have been arriving. The main coordinator of the action, Tomas Vyhnalek, told the CTK news agency that the humanitarian aid is being sent especially for Kosovo children.
The government has discussed two plans designed to revitalize Czech industry. One was prepared by deputy premier Pavel Mertlik and the other by Industry and Trade Minister Miroslav Gregr. The cabinet established a special company attached to the Consolidation bank. The new body, called Revitalizacni, will handle the scheme. However, the government has postponed its final decision on the programme for two weeks, and has established a new commission headed by Finance Minister Ivo Svoboda to work out the final version. The commission's task is to compile a new scheme that combines the best ideas from both Mertlik's and Gregr's projects.
The lower house of the Czech parliament, the House of Deputies, has taken the first step towards breaking the monopoly of the Czech Insurance Company in providing mandatory car insurance. The deputies passed the governmental motion on mandatory car insurance, and it will now go to a second reading. The motion envisages that as of the year 2000, more companies will be able to provide this type of insurance. The House of deputies also discussed a motion which is to enable homosexual and lesbian couples to live in a registered partnersip.
Czech ambassador to the European Union Pavel Telicka has said there's a real chance that this year's EU report evaluating the Czech Republic's preparedness for EU membership will be much more positive than the one issued last year. Telicka told this to newsmen on Wednesday, after meeting with president Vaclav Havel. "We still have reserves, and there are still delays, but we will be able to comply with EU requirements soon," Telicka said, pointing to the improvement in the the banking sector. However, presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek quoted president Havel as saying that if we want to become EU compatible, we'll have to speed up legislative changes, restructure industry and privatize banks.
Foreign minister Jan Kavan flies on Thursday - as the first Czech foreign minister ever - to Yemen. He'll also visit Mauricius and the Republic of South Africa, which is the Czech Republic's biggest trade partner in the region. In all the three countries Kavan will hold talks with his counterparts and other cabinet members. Possibilities of furhter development of economic ties as well as international political problems, including Kosovo, will be high on the agenda.
The results of the latest survey carried out by the Stem polling agency show that 64 percent of respondents would favour the Czech Republic's admission to the European Union while in July last year, this figure was 8 percent higher. This means that the number of Czech citizens supporting their country's membership of the EU has been steadily declining. While in 1993 the idea of EU membership was backed by 85 percent of those asked, within the next three years their number dropped to 70 percent.
And finally - football: The Czech Republic took a huge step towards the European championship finals when it defeated Scotland 2 - 1 in a group nine clash in Glasgow on Wednesday.
on Thursday we expect clear skies with morning mists, with daytime temperatures ranging between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius.
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