News Friday, JULY 31st, 1998

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Radio Prague E-News Date: July 31, 1998 Written/read by: Libor Kubik

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

CZECH-GERMAN-SUDETEN

The German government on Thursday denounced a comparison of ethnic Sudeten Germans with communists and right-wing extremists made by Czech Premier Milos Zeman.

Germany's Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel described the remarks as unacceptable and said Zeman would now have to straighten things up.

Kinkel made his statement in Berlin after a meeting with Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan.

In Bonn, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government issued a statement saying Zeman's comparison was intolerable for the German-Czech dialogue.

Last weekend, Zeman criticised the composition of a steering committee for a Czech-German discussion forum.

He said that those invited to take part should be interested in Czech-German reconciliation and that, just as Prague had not nominated any right-wing extremists or communists, Bonn should not nominate any members of the Sudeten German lobby group.

On Thursday, Zeman's spokesman rejected demands made by German Finance Minister Theo Waigel that he apologise for the remarks.

HAVEL-HEALTH

Czech President Vaclav Havel was allowed to read a newspaper on Thursday for the first time since he underwent intestinal surgery last weekend, and his condition remains stable.

The president had the long-planned operation on Sunday to remove a bag bridging a gap in his intestine which was inserted after emergency surgery in April. He was on a vacation in Austria when the first operation took place.

President Havel is still being kept on a respirator, but his medical team said his recovery was progressing normally.

Doctors had been keeping him under a news blackout so as not to disturb his recovery in the intensive care unit of Prague's Central Military Hospital.

CZECH-SOCDEM-REFERENDUM

The ruling Czech Social Democrats on Thursday tabled a draft legislation on referendum in the lower house of the Czech Parliament.

The plebiscite draft, long unsuccessfully pressed for by the centre-left party, would empower the President of the Republic to call a referendum on his country's accession to international alliances and on matters pertaining to the country's internal and external policies.

CZECH-FLOODS

Troops are still in action helping to eliminate the effects of disastrous floods in eastern Bohemia one week ago, in which seven people died and damage to the tune of 1.75 billion crowns was sustained.

The Czech Army Crisis Centre's spokesman Miroslav Sindelar said on Thursday troops were working to unblock local roads, and to clean waterways and homes.

Drinking water was being supplied to communities where water wells had been contaminated during the floods caused by torrential rains.

CZECH-GERMANY-KOSOVO

Seven Kosovo Albanians died and 15 others were seriously injured on Thursday when their van crashed into a tree at high speed as it tried to escape pursuing German border guards a few miles away from the Czech border.

German police said the people had been trying to cross illegally into Germany with the help of two Czech smugglers. The Czechs were also in the vehicle when it crashed after failing to negotiate a curve, but they escaped unhurt.

CZECH-DISEASE

An outbreak of type-C hepatitis has been reported from the Zlin district in northern Moravia, where five cases of this serious disease have been reported.

Regional officers said on Thursday that unlike the better- known type A and B, C-type hepatitis was rare in the Czech Republic, with only about 150 cases reported nationwide last year.

Type-C hepatitis is communicable through infected blood, usually among drug addicts sharing hypodermic needles and syringes.

CZECH-WEATHER

A look at the weekend's weather -- and on Friday, a low- pressure area accompanied by a cold front will cross our territory, bringing along a wet and cloudy spell with nighttime lows from 13 to 17 degrees Celsius and daytime highs between 21 and 25 degrees.

An outlook for Saturday and Sunday -- that low pressure will linger on, ushering in even more precipitations and, yes, even thunderstorms in eastern Moravia. But the daytime maxima should still move in the vicinity of a balmy 24 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.