News Friday, APRIL 24th, 1998

Radio Prague E News Written / Read by: Pauline Newman Date: 24.4.98

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Pauline Newman, first let's take a look at the main headlines of the day:

Those were the headlines, now let's take a look at the news in more detail...

Havel / Zverina

Czech President Vaclav Havel's state of health is said to be improving. Doctors at the Innsbruck University hospital where Mr Havel is currently undergoing treatment, said the President's temperature is normal and that he is gradually coming off his respirator.

Although they believe his health is slowly returning to normal, they say it is impossible to set a date for the President's departure from hospital.

Jaroslav Zverina, a member of the Civic Democratic Party, (ODS) who recently suggested that Vaclav Havel should consider leaving office because of his poor health, said on Thursday that he is prepared to apologise for his remarks.

Mr Zverina has come under fire for his statements, which have been called unethical.

Chairman of the Union of Freedom, Jan Ruml, said on Thursday that discussing the President's possible departure from politics is not only unfortunate but also politically incorrect.

NATO / Senate

The Czech Senate's Committee for Foreign affairs, has formally approved the Czech Republic's entry to NATO. 11 of the present members gave their approval on Thursday afternoon. Only two communist Senators and a member of the Social democrats voted against.

Czech minister of Foreign affairs, Jaroslav Sedivy said that by entering the alliance, the Czech Republic would not only improve its defences, but also take part in creating a new security system within Europe.

Mr Sedivy admitted that a dispute could arise upon entry to the alliance over the issue of nuclear warheads being stored on Czech soil. He reminded everyone present of NATO's promise not to install these weapons on territory belonging to new members.

Conference / Europe

A three day conference on the future of Europe begins in Prague on Friday. The event which is called "The Crossroads of Europe" will be looking at the results of the expansion of the European Union and European identity.

One of the main themes will be the legal, economic and political effect of European integration.

Hundreds of guests are expected from seventeen different countries and former Secretary-General of the European Commission David Williamson will be one of the speakers.

British Minister of State for European Affairs, Douglas Henderson is also in Prague for discussions on Czech integration into the European Union. His programme includes talks with Czech Foreign Minister Jaroslav Sedivy, and meetings with the heads of both the lower and upper houses of Parliament.

WEU / Czech Republic

The head of the Western European Union (WEU) Jose Cutileiro continues his two day visit to Prague, where he is discussing the Czech Republic's future associated membership. This is expected to happen after the Czech Republic becomes a member of NATO in April 1999.

The Western European Union, is a military - political organisation linking NATO with the European Union.

Floods / Funds

The Ministry for Regional Development has announced that it will offer loans to people whose property was damaged by last year's catastrophic flooding.

A spokesman said people would have to pay interest on the loans which would be repayable over a ten year period.

In the meantime, an Olomouc based company, helping to finance the cleaning up operations after the floods has almost run out of funds. The company director said on Thursday, that there is still much work to be done in Moravia, helping people rebuild their lives and homes. He revealed that the state has not provided any money since last year and warned that the last of the money will be gone by next week, whereupon all operations will have to stop.

Jewish / Tribute

Members of the Czech Jewish community paid tribute on Thursday, to the six million Jews who died in the second World war. At a service held in the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague, candles were lit in memory of the holocaust victims.

This takes place annually, all over the world on the Jewish day known as Yom Hashoma which this year fell on Thursday. Jewish people remember among other things, the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto, fifty five years ago and the subsequent brutal Nazi repressions.

On Thursday in Prague, the head of the President's Office, stood in for Vaclav Havel who could not attend due to his medical condition.

And we end as usual with a brief look at the weather:

A ridge of high pressure moving over from the north, means that although there will be a hazy start to the day on Friday, this will clear up, making way for sunshine, and clear skies later on. Temperatures will be high during the day, ranging from 19 to 23 degrees celsius. They will drop during the night however, to as low as 4 degrees celsius.

I'm Pauline Newman and that's the end of the news.