Daily news summary News Wednesday, FEBRUARY 17th, 1999

17-02-1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Marketa Atanasova, and we will begin with the bulletin of today's news.

Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail.

CZECH FOREIGN MINSTER JAN KAVAN ON THE ALLEGED SIS CONSPIRACY TO THWART THE CZECH ADMISSION INTO NATO

Slovak radio station Twist announced yesterday that the Czech Foreign minister Jan Kavan confirmed the information by the head of the Slovak Secret Intelligence Service, Vladimir Mitra, that under its previous chief, the SIS attempted to thwart the admission of the Czech Republic into the Euro-Atlantic defence and economic structures. However, in reaction to the statement by Radio Twist, Kavan said he neither confirmed nor dismissed the allegations, and that the work of foreign or local intelligence service should not be discussed in public. A secret report by the SIS chief Vladimir Mitra suggests that under its previous head, Ivan Lexa, a close collaborator of the former Slovak prime minister Vladimir Meciar, the SIS carried out operation Neutron, which was aimed at creating controversy among Czech population with regard to NATO accession. Another SIS operation was supposed to take steps to plot a neo- fascist campaign and instigate racial hatred among the Czech population towards the Roma people, which would discredit the Czech Republic in the eyes of the international community and prevent its integration into the Euro-Atlantic defence and economic structures. Most government politicians in Slovakia call for the release of the entire secret report, part of which have already leaked out.

TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER ARRIVES ON AN OFFICIAL VISIT TO PRAGUE

Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cema arrives today on an official state visit to the Czech Republic. He is to meet the Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan, as well as the vice-premier Egon Lansky, and chairmen of both chambers of Parliament, Vaclav Klaus and Libuse Benesova. The main topics on the agenda will be the political and economic relations between Czech Republic and Turkey, as well as the European integration and the admission of the Czech Republic into NATO. Both countries have signed an agreement on mutual support, protection of investments and long-term collaboration, and Czech Republic has also offered preference customs duty on Turkish imports, with a minimum 75 percent discount.. Czech export of industrial goods into Turkey was worth 1.5 billion crowns in 1994, while the 1997 figure was already 2.5 billion.

CZECH FARMERS TO DISCUSS PROTEST ACTIONS AGAINST MEAT IMPORTS

Representatives of Czech farmers, the meat processing industry, the agricultural chamber and the trade unions are to meet in the town of Havlickuv Brod today, to agree on possible protest actions to prevent the imports of pork meat at dumping prices. The farmers and representatives of the meat processing industry called on the government to take measures to curb dumping EU imports to the Czech Republic by the 20th of February. In the opposite case, they have threatened a blockade of the meat plants which purchase and process EU pork. Since January, Czech Republic imported some 5.6 thousand tonnes of pork, which represents just over 8 percent of the entire domestic consumption.

INCREASED POLICE SECURITY AT THE GREEK EMBASSY IN PRAGUE

Czech police has provided an increased security to the Greek embassy in Prague, in the light of the occupation of several Greek embassies in Europe by the supporters of the Kurdish independence movement, who protest against the arrest of their leader, Abdullah Ocalan and the fact that Greece didn't grant Ocalan an asylum. Only a few Kurds are reported to be living in the Czech Republic and according to the information available, they don't belong to any political organisation.

PUBLIC OPINION SURVEY SUGGESTS A GROWING SUPPORT OF THE COMMUNISTS

While the position of the ruling Social Democratic party and the right wing opposition Civic Democratic party remain unchanged, there has been an increase in popularity enjoyed by the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia. An extensive survey, carried out by the Centre for Empirical Studies, suggests that the communists would now collect 14 percent votes, compared to 27.1 percent votes of the Social Democrats, and 22.2 percent of the right wing Civic Democratic party. The survey has also confirmed that while the position of all five parliamentary parties has strengthened, the position of parties not represented in the parliament has weakened, and their potential votes would now be distributed among the five major parliamentary parties. More importantly, the survey has indicated a growing bond between the Social Democrats and the Communists. When asked, which other party the communist electorate would give their vote, apart from the Communists, 59 percent stated the Social Democratic party, while a whole 24 percent of the Social democratic electorate would give their vote to the Communists as an alternative.

FLU EPIDEMIC RETREATING

The flu epidemic in the Czech Republic finally seems to be retreating. The epidemic which has paralysed the country since January, is now releasing its grip. With the exception of Southern Bohemia, health authorities in all Czech regions have reported a decline in the number of cases of flu. The most susceptible group still remain children. In Moravia, 40 schools are still closed as a result of the epidemic, and the ban on visits in all regional hospitals and social institutions stays.

CZECH WEATHER FORECAST

And finally the weather. Frequent snow showers and low temperatures should continue for the rest of the week, with day temperatures between 0 and -4 degrees Celsius, and night temperatures of -5 to 0 degrees.

I'm Marketa Atanasova and that's the end of the news.

17-02-1999