News Friday, DECEMBER 11th, 1998

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Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and we begin with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Klaus, Zeman, Tosovsky and Falbr to discuss problems facing the economy

Lower house speaker Vaclav Klaus, Prime Minister Milos Zeman, Czech National Bank governor Josef Tosovsky and trade union leader Richard Falbr are meeting today to discuss the unfavourable economic situation. The meeting was called by Vaclav Klaus who sees it necessary to discuss problems facing the Czech economy and look for their solution. Klaus said the cabinet, the Central Bank and the opposition need to reach an agreement on measures which would reverse the unfavourable economic development. But some observers say the likely purpose of the meeting is to force the Czech National Bank to cut interest rates further or even to limit its independence.

Former Czech dissident awarded UN human rights prize

Czech human rights activist and former dissident Anna Sabatova was among the five people who were awarded United Nations human rights prizes on Thursday. Anna Sabatova works for the Czech Republic's Helsinki Committee and Documentation Centre for Human Rights. The prizes are presented every five years on the occasion of Human Rights Day. The other four awardees are former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and human rights advocates from Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Brazil. The winners were honoured by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Industrial production down

Czech industrial production in October dropped by 7.6 percent year-on-year. This is the worst figure since the beginning of the year and represents a much deeper plunge than expected. The industry and trade ministry attributes the bad situation to a slow pace of restructuring in the industry. The ministry is also preparing a new revitalisation and restructuring programme. According to analysts, the poor industrial results are proof of a deepening economic recession. According to Monika Prochazkova of Patria Finance company, the unfavourable figures may be the result of the combined influence of lower foreign demand and the inability of Czech producers to compete on foreign markets due to the strong crown.

Zeman to attend EU summit

Czech premier Milos Zeman will travel to Vienna on Saturday to attend a European Union summit. He will inform EU officials about measures the Czech cabinet is planning to adopt in reaction to the progress report recently published by the European Commission. Czech chief negotiator with the EU, Pavel Telicka, said that the Czech Republic accepted most of the Commission's conclusions, but had reservations about the assessment of the position of the Roma minority and of the issue of acquiring state citizenship.

This will be the first meeting of the highest representatives of EU countries with their counterparts from the candidate states since the beginning of the accession talks in March this year.

ODS ahead of CSSD in poll ratings

Support for the main opposition Civic Democratic Party is now slightly higher than that of the ruling Social Democrats, according to the latest poll by the Sofres-Factum agency. The Civic Democrats now enjoy the support of just under 25 percent of Czechs, compared to less than 24 percent for the Social Democrats. The Communists hold onto the third place which they have occupied since the June parliamentary elections with 10.5 percent, followed closely by the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union.

Czech hearts beat on the right - poll

According to the another opinion poll conducted by the Institute for Public Opinion Research, right-wing and centrist orientation prevails among Czech society. The survey showed that 36 percent of Czechs consider themselves right-wing oriented and 31 percent opt for the centre of the political spectrum. The left-wing was preferred by 22 percent of the poll respondents. Among the right-wing supporters are ranked mostly university graduates, private entrepreneurs and people from 30 to 45 years of age. The left-wing is attractive for pensioners, blue collar workers and people with low living standards.

Czech weather report

And finally, a quick look at the weather. We are expecting a mostly clear day with afternoon highs ranging from 6 to 2 degrees Celsius below zero.

And that's the end of the news.