News Friday, AUGUST 07th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-News Date: August 7, 1998 Written/read by: Libor Kubik

These are the main Czech stories this hour, now the news in more detail, read by Libor Kubik.

HAVEL-HEALTH

The condition of the ailing Czech President Vaclav Havel has improved further. His doctor Ilja Kotik said on Thursday that following the heart rhythm irregularity of the past days, 61- year-old Havel's cardiac function was nearly that normal for a man of his age.

Havel's doctors said X-rays had also shown that his bronchial pneumonia was regressing, and his fever had dropped significantly after an intensive course of antibiotics.

President Havel has been in hospital since July 23. On Tuesday, he was given cardiac electro-shock in the most serious health scare since 1996.

Tuesday's drama came a day after Havel underwent a tracheotomy -- an incision in the windpipe -- after complaining of serious breathing problems.

The Czech Communist Party on Thursday asked both chambers of parliament to consider temporarily shifting some presidential powers on to the prime minister or the speaker of the lower house.

Communist deputy Zuzka Rujbrova said her party's proposal came in the wake of President Havel's long illness.

CZECH-GERMAN-GAFFE

German parliament speaker Rita Suessmuth on Thursday called on Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman to withdraw his controversial remarks about ethnic Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II.

Zeman said late last month representatives of the Sudeten German lobby group should not sit on a Czech-German reconciliation committee because they, similarly as the Czech communists and right-wing extremists, are also opposed to the Czech German Declaration.

In an interview to a Berlin radio station, Ms. Suessmuth described Zeman's remarks as unacceptable and detrimental to relations between both countries.

Premier Zeman said on Thursday that his remarks had been distorted. He said he hoped that the furore surrounding comments he made on Czech TV last month would not damage bilateral relations with Germany.

Here in Prague, Communist Party leader Miroslav Grebenicek assured the Social Democrat government of Mr Zeman that it can count on his support as long as the government continues to resist German calls on it to repudiate the Benes Decrees which paved the way to the expulsion.

Zeman's remarks were criticised earlier this week by Germany's Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

CZECH-GOVERNMENT-STATEMENT

The new Czech Minister of Finance, Mr Ivo Svoboda, said on Thursday he was going to present the cabinet with the draft of a balanced state budget for 1999.

He told a press conference in Prague that the balanced-budget idea has the support of a majority of Premier Zeman's cabinet.

The Social Democrats have previously favoured budget deficits as a way of improving the country's economic situation.

Minister Svoboda also sacked all his deputies inherited from the former centre-right government.

Meanwhile, and contrary to earlier assurances, the new Czech Social Democrat cabinet has significantly delayed the publication of its policy statement, which was to have been available on the Internet on Thursday. The full text, parts of which were published in this morning's papers, finally appeared on the net on Friday morning.

CZECH-POLICE-PRESIDENT

Czech Minister of the Interior Vaclav Grulich on Thursday relieved Police President Oldrich Tomasek of his duties at his own request.

Tomasek, who has held the top police job for four years, has indicated he will not continue in his capacity under a Social Democrat administration. But he said he would like to stay with the police.

South Moravian police chief Jiri Kolar was appointed as Tomasek's replacement, He will take office on Friday.

CZECH-NHL-HOCKEY

Ice hockey -- and the Czech Republic's Nagano Olympics gold medal winning team beat the Canadian-American NHL star team 10 goals to seven at a fundraiser in Prague's Sports Hall on Thursday evening.

The proceeds of the spectacular showcase match will be donated to charities. Most of the money -- over two million crowns -- will go to an orphanage damaged in last year's disastrous floods in Moravia.

CZECH-WEATHER

Finally, a look at the weather. Friday will be a fairly hot day in the Czech Republic, with temperatures between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius, and up to 30 degrees in southeast Moravia.

On Saturday and Sunday, we expect early morning lows from 14 to 18 Celsius, and daytime maxima on Saturday between 26 and 30, and on Sunday from 28 to 32 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.