Vol 1, No 6, 2 August 1999
C E N T R A L E U R O P E A N N E W S:
Last Week in the Czech Republic
Government High Commissioner for Human Rights Petr Uhl warned of impending visa requirements, which will likely be imposed on Czech citizens by Britain in the fall, if the number of Czech Roma seeking asylum in the UK does not drastically decrease. The number of Roma seeking asylum is said to have reached record highs in June: 143 applications (made on behalf of groups of several persons) for asylum were filed.
President Havel supported the nomination of British Minister of Defence George Robertson for the post of General Secretary of NATO. British Prime Minister Tony Blair suggested Robertson for the position at last Friday's conference on stability in the Balkans in Sarajevo.
President Havel pronounced the Sarajevo conference as a testimony to the large feeling of responsibility the international community feels toward the Balkan region. "After ten years of conflict on the territory of former Yugoslavia, the world made it know that today, the freedom and human dignity of all people is connected, " said the President
A six-member team of volunteers arrived in the Czech Republic from Britain to teach Kosovan Albanian refugees currently residing in the country English.
Citizens in Litnov are protesting against the building of a Billa supermarket in their town and plan to take their complaint to the Ministry of Regional Development.
Speculations emerged that former Finance Minister Ivo Svoboda - who was recently dismissed from his post on account of his suspected role in the bankruptcy case of the Liberta firm - may have been falsely accused since not enough evidence exists to prosecute him. Premier Milos Zeman did not rule out the possibility that Svoboda would be reinstated back into his post, should the charges against him prove to be unsubstantiated.
Most pharmacies will be busy re-pricing all of their drugs this week, as on 1 August, the government's new regulation - which will see a 3-percent reduction in charges for drug distribution and sales - came into effect.
Prime Minister Zeman flatly refused the claims for restitution of property voiced by Czechs living abroad in light of the new law on citizenship recently passed in Parliament which allows former Czech citizens living abroad to apply for Czech citizenship.
As of September, new customs-free border crossings are to be in place at the Czech-Austrian border - specifically, in the Kyselov - Diendorf and Stiegersdorf - Mairspindt regions.
The government has vowed to release up to a total of 60 million crowns for two programs to aid Kosovan refugees currently residing in the Czech Republic. On is the repatriation program to return refugees to Kosovo, and the other deals with intensive care patients which have had to be treated in Czech hospitals.
The Senate passed a new anti-fraud law which is intended to crack down on the incidence of name-brand fraud.
A spokesman of the Impulse 99 initiative, Jiri Pehe, dismissed any speculation that the petition for widespread change within Czech society - which was released last week See last week's Czech News Review ) - was to act as a launch of theologian Tomas Halik's candidacy for the presidency. Last year, President Havel mentioned him on radio as one of his potential successors.
Kazi Stastna, 1 August 1999
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