Daily news summary News Monday, JANUARY 03th, 2000

03-01-2000

Hello, a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik and we begin as usual with the news.

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

CZECH-FIRE-BLACKOUT

The whole town of Frydek-Mistek in North Moravia remained without telephone links and automatic teller machines on Monday after a fire destroyed Czech Telecom's regional headquarters in the town of Frydek.

Our correspondent says the fire destroyed a newly installed digital telephone switchboard which served the district's 32,000 telephone stations.

The fire was put down on Sunday and investigations are still underway. Czech Telecom sources ruled out any connection with the Y2K problem but said the damage amounts to 30 million crowns or about one million dollars. It may take several days to restore the broken lines.

CZECH-PARTIES-BUDGET

Social Democrat Prime Minister Milos Zeman and the main opposition Civic Democrats' leader Vaclav Klaus don't rule out changes in their power-sharing deal called the Opposition Agreement

The two officials are to meet next week for political talks concerning this country's budget.

The two official said on Sunday they would meet, probably on Friday, to narrow their differences on the issue.

The Social Democrat cabinet had its draft budget defeated in a second reading in parliament last month and the Czech Republic is operating on a provisional budget.

Klaus warned Zeman not to attempt to draft a third version of one and the same document with all its planned deficits.

CZECH-PRESIDENT-REACT

President Vaclav Havel's televised New Year address to the nation has produced a mixed response among leading Czech political figures.

In his 20-minute speech on January 1, Havel had expressed concern over humankind's progress towards the new millennium and warned that human conscience was trailing scientific and technological advance. Havel attacked globalization and criticised a bad state of the Czech society on the verge of the year 2000, calling for a critical reassessment of Czech priorities, values and the citizens' approach towards the state and its role.

The largely unreformed Communist Party's parliamentary leader Vojtech Filip on Sunday praised Havel for his criticisms but said the president had failed to offer new solutions.

The right-of-centre Freedom Union's acting chairman Karel Kuehnl described Havel as a man of vision. But his coalition partner Jan Kasal from the Christian Democratic Union missed concrete comments in Havel's speech on the actual situation in the Czech Republic.

Havel's longtime foe, Miroslav Macek of the main opposition Civic Democratic Party described the speech as too vague and filled with the usual empty rhetoric of a man who no longer understands what is happening in the world.

And Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus declined to comment, saying only that Havel has repeated himself many times without accepting his personal blame for the things he criticises.

CZECH-PM-CORRUPTION

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has expressed dismay at the slow pace of the Social Democrat government's "Clean Hands" clampdown on economic crime and corruption.

But he told private TV NOVA at the weekend that those responsible for the massive stripping of corporate assets would wind up behind bars sooner or later.

Prime Minister Zeman said his cabinet had filed more than two thousand lawsuits against suspected economic criminals.

The Social Democrats' Clean Hands anti-corruption drive was inspired by a similar campaign in Italy. It was launched about one year ago but observers remain sceptical about its prospects.

CZECH-MOUNTAINS-AVALANCHE

Authorities in the Krkonose or Giant Mountains in eastern Bohemia have closed four winter-sports localities citing the danger of snow avalanches.

However, skiing conditions in the rest of the Giant Mountains remain excellent. There are about 60 centimetres of good-quality snow there and all ski lifts and cable cars are operational.

CZECH-REGIONS

The Czech Republic's new administrative setup has come into force. As of now, the country has 14 regions, including Prague as a separate territorial entity.

The regions will gradually assume some of the powers hitherto exercised by the State. However, regional assemblies will not arise until after the local elections scheduled for next autumn.

CZECH-WEATHER

And we and as usual with a brief weather report.

Monday's early morning lows will be between 2 and 7 degrees below freezing, daytime highs around zero Celsius and we expect frequent drizzles and snow showers.

Tuesday will bring us frequent morning fogs, low skies with scattered snow showers, and maximum temperatures between -1 and +2 degrees Celsius, dropping to between one and five below zero in the night.

Wednesday's daytime highs between 1 and five above zero and frequent drizzling showers.

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

03-01-2000