Daily news summary News Monday, MARCH 13th, 2000

13-03-2000

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik and here's the news.

CZECH-FLOODS

Flood waters throughout the Czech Republic continue receding as the country begins to count the losses their country sustained. Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said the damage caused by last week's heavy rains and melting snows could be covered by funds allotted from the state budget.

Three people have died. Our correspondent says the damage, whose full extent has yet to be established, could exceed two billion crowns. Most of the damage sustained mainly by the northern areas of the country, is to roads, railways and other infrastructure.

Catholic bishops of two Czech dioceses have launched a fundraising effort to help the victims of the floods.

CZECH-CATHOLIC-MEACULPA

In their early reaction to Pope John Paul's historic plea for forgiveness for the past errors of the Roman Catholic Church, Czech priests emulated his example during masses throughout the Czech Republic.

At a solemn mass in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome on Sunday, the Pope set a historic precedent for the world's one billion Catholics by asking for forgiveness for divisions among Christians, for the use of violence in the name of truth, and for the difference and hostility engaged against followers of other religions.

Catholicism is the prevailing denomination in the otherwise highly secularised Czech society.

CZECH-NATO-ANNIVERSARY

One Czech citizen in two is convinced that this country is a fully-fledged member of NATO one year after its accession to the Western alliance. According to a poll just out, most Czechs believe that membership of NATO has enhanced the international authority of the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile in Brussels, American and French NATO ambassadors on Sunday said the accession of Prague, Warsaw and Budapest one year ago had enriched the alliance and created good conditions for its further extension eastward.

CZECH-IRAN-BAN

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan believes that a recent bill banning the export of Czech-built air- conditioning equipment to an Iranian nuclear power plant will not have adverse impact on trade with Iran.

Kavan said in a televised debate on Sunday that the United States and Israel, which have objected against the sale on security grounds, had promised to secure compensations for the Czech ZVVZ Milevsko engineering firm for the unfulfilled contract. Government and corporate officials are expected to sign a compensation agreement later in the day.

Both states fear that the Bushehr nuclear power station in northern Iran could be part of Iran's programme to develop nuclear weapons.

CZECH-HAVEL-POLICE

Czech President Vaclav Havel has expressed concern over the different evaluation of the performance of two special police units he has recently visited.

The outgoing Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich has said the organised crime squad and the economic crime unit of the Czech Police performed well last year. But Prime Minister Milos Zeman on Saturday spoke of a lackluster performance of both task forces.

Havel's spokesman said on Sunday there clearly were attempts underway to destabilise the two key segments of the police force.

CZECH-WEATHER

And we end as usual with a quick look at the weather.

Monday will start with a foggy morning and only scattered rains are expected. Daytime highs between 5 and 9 degrees Celsius.

On Tuesday, a cold front advancing eastward will bring us more precipitation, some of it in the form of scattered snow showers at higher elevations. Wednesday's weather will follow the same late-winter pattern. Nighttime lows on both days around freezing point, daytime highs on Tuesday between 7 and 11 degrees, and on Wednesday, between 2 and six Celsius above zero.

I am Libor Kubik and that’s the news.

13-03-2000