News Friday, DECEMBER 04th, 1998

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CZECH-KLAUS-ECONOMY

Lower House Speaker Vaclav Klaus has appealed to Social Democrat Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Central bank Governor Josef Tosovsky to start talks on the economic situation in the Czech Republic.

Klaus, a former premier himself, said on Thursday it was vital for the three men to start an intensive dialogue on the next economic moves and to reach an agreement, as soon as possible, on measures which would bring about the needed changes.

Mr Klaus said he was alarmed by the latest statistics which indicate a steep economic decline of his country.

CZECH-HAVEL-ZILK

Czech President Vaclav Havel has received documents pertaining to former Vienna Mayor Helmut Zilk's alleged collaboration with Communist Czechoslovakia's secret police in the 1960s and asked the foreign ministry to arrange Mr Zilk's visit to Prague to clarify the issue.

Havel's spokesman Ladislav Spacek said on Thursday that the exact date of the visit would be announced after talks between Mr Zilk and the Czech ambassador to Austria.

Helmut Zilk was removed from the list of recipients of top state awards to mark the country's Independence Day in October, after being described as a former police informer.

CZECH-QUAD-CHRISTIAN

The Czech Christian Democrats are divided on the proposition that the coalition of four smaller opposition parties, of which they are members, could form a single, centre-right political entity.

The Christian Democrats' Vice Chairman Vilem Holan said on Thursday he preferred either all four parties or at least some of them to preserve their identity and the coalition to continue as a goodwill association.

The four coalition was formed earlier this autumn with the aim of contesting last month's senate and communal elections together.

Holan also dismissed speculations that the Christian Democrats could join forces with the ruling Social Democrats and form a majority cabinet.

CZECH-USA-AMBASSADOR

America's new ambassador to Prague John Shattuck has named security, prosperity and the advance of civic society as the top priorities of his mission.

Speaking to journalists in Prague on Thursday, Ambassador Shattuck dodged most specific questions, saying he only arrived on Tuesday. But he said he would work hard to see the Czech Republic admitted as a member of NATO.

The ambassador, who will present his credentials to President Havel next Thursday, praised the record of the Czech army battalion in Bosnia, under whose protection he visited the Balkans several times in his former capacity of human rights adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

CZECH-HAVEL-CHARTER 77

President Vaclav Havel on Thursday received an honorary plaque in recognition of his long-term work for the Charter 77 Foundation -- the institution established 20 years ago in Stockholm in support of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto of which Havel was one of the first signatories in his dissident years.

The Stockholm-based foundation donated about four million dollars to miscellaneous projects in former Czechoslovakia. Today, it devotes itself mainly to charity work and fund raising efforts.

This year's Charter 77 literary award, named after the Nobel Prize- winning Czech poet Jaroslav Seifert, goes to Czech author and playwright Vera Linhartova. She was awarded the 250,000 crown prize in appreciation of her book of stories "Mes Oubliettes", written in French.

CZECH-FARM SURPLUS-CROATIA

It now looks like the Czech Republic could sell some of its surplus farm produce and livestock to Croatia.

Croat Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Zlatko Dominikovic said after talks on Thursday with his Czech opposite number Jan Fencl that his country was interested mainly in beef cattle and breeding pigs.

CZECH-COMMUNISM-ACCUSE

The former director of the Czech Office for the Documentation and Investigation of the Crimes of Communism has been accused of a transgression committed under the influence of a habit-forming substance. it was announced in Prague on Thursday.

Mr Marian Gula resigned last month after he was involved in a traffic accident and was found to have drunk before driving. Our correspondent says that Mr Gula, if convicted, could face a one- year prison sentence.

CZECH-WEATHER

A quick look at the weather -- and Friday will be another gloomy, wet and overcast day with scattered snow showers or drizzling rain. Daytime temperatures will be from four below zero to freezing point.

The weekend will be generally cloudy with sporadic snowfalls and nighttime temperature minima between three and seven Celsius below freezing. In places where the skies will clear during the night we expect temperatures as low as minus 13 degrees. Daytime highs between minus four and zero Celsius.

I am Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.