Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

17-06-2003

Svoboda: EU foreign ministers surprised at Klaus attitude to poll

Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has said foreign ministers from a number of EU countries have expressed their surprise that President Vaclav Klaus had failed to make clear whether Czechs should vote "Yes" in the recent EU referendum. Speaking to reporters after returning from an EU meeting in Luxembourg, Mr Svoboda said the Czech president was the only head of state of a candidate country to refuse to recommend EU membership to his citizens. President Klaus urged people to vote in the poll, but said they must make up their own minds. He was also quoted as saying that EU membership was a marriage of convenience, not love. In the end, 77 percent of people voted "Yes" to joining the EU.

Foreign Minister claims victory in "EU Constitution" debate

Mr Svoboda also said he had managed to persuade his European counterparts to regard the recommendations of the EU Convention on the future of Europe as merely a basis for further discussion, rather than the foundations of a European Constitution. Mr Svoboda said Germany's proposal to regard the recommendations as the beginning of a Constitution had been rejected, in favour of his own proposal. EU leaders will begin discussing the Convention's recommendations - which include controversial ideas such as an EU President - at this week's summit in Thessaloniki.

Czech Republic to provide material support to Cuban dissidents

Mr Svoboda also said that former President Vaclav Havel, who stepped down from the post in February, will become actively involved in the struggle for democracy in Cuba. He said the Foreign Ministry would begin actively supporting dissidents opposed to the regime of Fidel Castro, and Mr Havel would help raise awareness of alleged human rights abuses on the island. Last week Mr Svoboda offered to appoint the former president as a goodwill ambassador.

Czech Airlines pilots call off strike after last minute deal

Czech pilots have called off a planned strike at the last moment, after a last-minute compromise was reached with the management of the state-owned national carrier Czech Airlines. Pilots at the airline had called for an indefinite strike to begin on Tuesday after failed talks with management over pay and working conditions. The pilot's union said in a statement that a deal was struck 30 minutes before the strike was due to begin. Czech pilots are paid as much as cabinet ministers, but still earn less than pilots working for foreign airlines.

Doctors threaten strike action in protest at spending cuts

Meanwhile unions representing 5,500 of the country's 40,000 doctors say they will go on strike on Thursday in protest at the government's plans to cut public spending. The unions said doctors would provide only emergency medical care.

Weather

Wednesday will be another hot and mostly sunny day, but with the chance of thundery showers in some parts of the country. Temperatures in the daytime will range from 25 to 29 degrees Celsius.

17-06-2003