News Friday, FEBRUARY 06th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-News Date: February 6, 1998 Written/read by: Libor Kubik

These are the top stories from Prague. Now the news in more detail, read by Libor Kubik.

CZECH-GERMAN-DECLARATION

Czech Foreign Minister Jaroslav Sedivy and his German counterpart Klaus Kinkel on Thursday announced in Bonn the composition of a forum for studying the often troubled common history of both nations.

Included in the long-awaited list of Germans in the forum are the head of the Sudeten German Expellees' Association Franz Neubauer and the leader of the Federal Expellees' Association Fritz Wittmann.

The Czech Social Democrats expressed bewilderment on Thursday over the naming of Neubauer, who they said had opposed the idea of Czech-German reconciliation from its outset.

Other German members are ex-foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and the Bundestag's Deputy Speaker Antje Vollmer.

The Czech side is represented, among others, by former culture minister Pavel Tigrid, Deputy Jiri Payne, political scientist Jacques Rupnik, and Jewish activist Tomas Kraus.

CZECH-PARTY-SCANDAL

The businessman who says he wants back a two million crown sponsorship gift to the small Civic Democratic Alliance, the ODA, which he says was made under duress, said on Thursday the former Czech trade and industry minister Vladimir Dlouhy, an ODA member, is not implicated in the affair.

Mr Kamil Kolek claims the ODA some time ago demanded that he either pay the two million or lose his bid to privatise a department store in the North Moravian town of Opava.

Kolek said in a fax message to the media that Dlouhy had figured in the incident as a government minister, and not as a ranking ODA official.

The ODA said it would sue Kolek.

CZECH-CHRISTIAN-IMPORT

Czech Christian Democrat leader Josef Lux said on Thursday this country no longer needed an increased tax on imported luxury goods, as called for by the Social Democrats who are likely to win an early election tentatively scheduled for June.

Lux said Czech exports were growing more quickly now, thus dispensing with the need to slap a surcharge on costly imports.

Until last year, the Christian Democrats insisted on the need to specially tax imports.

The Christian Democrats are widely believed to strike a coalition with the Social Democrats after the early elections.

SLOVAK-CZECH-SON

Michal Kovac Junior, the son of Slovakia's outgoing president, who was arrested on Wednesday by Czech police on a Czech-German border crossing, said on Thursday he wants to give himself up to the German authorities investigating his alleged frauds.

The man, who is being held in a detention prison in Plzen, has been accused of a multi-million-dollar embezzlement while working for a Slovak export company.

Slovak President Michal Kovac's term of office expires next month.

CZECH-BOSNIA-AID

Czech Television's "Man in Distress" foundation on Thursday sent a trainload of instant soups to people in Prijedor in northwest Bosnia where Czech troops of the SFOR contingent help to maintain peace and order.

The foundation's Tomas Vyhnalek told CTK the shipment includes also children's footwear and textbooks for a school in Donija Ljubija, which the Czech unit helped to rebuild.

CITY-FLOODS-EMBEZZLE

Police in the North Moravian city of Olomouc on Thursday charged their deputy mayor of abusing his powers and a large-scale fraud.

The official, Social Democrat Richard Pavel, was accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of crowns allocated for the operation of evacuation centres during last summer's devastating floods, which inundated a third of Czech territory, causing severe loss of life and property.

Pavel was remanded in custody on Thursday.

CZECH-CURRENCY-STEADY

The Czech crown steadied at the end of trading on Thursday, climbing to 19.09 to the German mark and 34.20 to the US dollar.

Experts say that is because of the renewed interest of foreign investors.

CZECH-TENNIS

Tennis -- and Czech player Petr Korda, fresh from his first grand slam win at the Australian Open and a leap to the world number two spot, said on Thursday he was pulling out of the Dubai Open, which starts on Monday, to rest his ailing back.

He told a press conference in Prague he would aim to play in the Key Biscayne tournament in Florida at the end of March before launching into French Open preparations.

CZECH-WEATHER

A quick look at the weather -- Friday will be a moderately cool day in the Czech Republic, with afternoon highs from minus one to plus three degrees Celsius, and around three in the mountains. The weatherman says we should be prepared for some smog situations.

An outlook for the weekend -- brace yourselves for a cold front advancing from Western Europe. Saturday morning will be foggy and overcast, with scattered snow showers and drizzle. Nighttime lows between four and eight Celsius below freezing, afternoon highs from zero to two above freezing. Sunday's weather should be about the same.

And that's the end of the news.