News Friday, MAY 29th, 1998

Radio Prague E News Written / Read by: Pauline Newman Date: 29.5.98

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Pauline Newman, you are tuned to Radio Prague, first let's take a look at the main headlines of the day:

You are tuned to Radio Prague, those were the headlines, now let's take a look at the news in full...

Crown / slump

Although very few economists are able to predict the movement of the crown for the next few days, they all agree that the currency remains in danger of another fall. Many say that the situation depends upon further developments in Russia, agreeing that Russia's shaky currency and stock exchange are the key in the short run.

This comes after Wednesday's turbulence on Czech markets which saw the Crown fall heavily by forty hellers, selling for over 18.70 to the Deutsch mark. Analysts say they do not exclude the possibility of the Czech currency falling as far as the 19 crown per Deutsch mark border.

Also looming large over Prague markets is the threat of political uncertainty, wiht investors concerned about the June elections.

Once seen as a model for emerging market economies, the Czech republic has become a target of analysts' criticism recently over the failure of the political establishment to deliver the necessary reforms.

According to one expert, even if Russia rebounds soon, it is unlikely that there will be any significant pick up in Czech investment markets until the country's political picture is clearer.

Klaus / Coalition

Vaclav Klaus leader of the ODS, the Civic Democratic Party, told Czech Radio on Thursday, that his party would consider entering a coalition with the Freedom Union and the Christian Democrats in spite of certain disagreements after the elections.

He added however, that this government would not work with himself in charge of the ODS, Josef Lux at the head of the Christian Democrats and Jan Ruml leading the Freedom Union. Josef Lux is largely responsible for the 1997 collapse of Klaus's government and Ruml broke away from the ODS last year and formed the Freedom Union with other former members of the ODS.

The ODS leader also said that should the opposition Social Democrats win the June elections, it should be up to this party to set up the next government and not other selected political figures.

Under the constitution, President Vaclav Havel is supposed to choose a Prime Minister to set up the government. He has emphasized that this need not be a person from the winning party, but preferably someone capable of creating a stable coalition.

Klaus said on Thursday, that only the party which wins the elections by a ten percent margin, should be entrusted with setting up the government, otherwise the process would be a betrayal of the elections.

The Social Democrats lead in election preferences by ten percent over the ODS, although Vaclav Klaus did say his party would try and close that gap.

EU / Mafia

European Union interior ministers signed an accord with counterparts from 10 prospective EU member states in Brussels on Thursday aimed at cracking down on organised crime.

The Czech Republic signed the accord which aims to facilitate and co-ordinate efforts by authorities to stop the encroachment of the Russian mafia and other crime syndicates into the EU. Efforts will be made to provide Eastern European nations, with police training and sophisticated equipment to aid the fight against crime.

The prospective member nations also committed themselves to bringing their legal systems into step with EU standards.

Romany / Custody

A judge in Liberec has ordered that an eighteen year old Romany be taken into custody on the advice of police investigators. They say the romany is guilty of having assaulted a regional police inspector in the town centre last Sunday.

Five teenagers are being questioned by the police, so far however, only the one has admitted to police accusations, the rest are being treated as witnesses.

The eighteen year old currently in jail, faces charges of grievous bodily harm, attacking a public figure and committing a racially motivated crime. If found guilty, he could face a sentence of three to ten years in jail.

Brief look at the weather:

The weather on Friday will be hot and rather stuffy. Thunderstorms are expected in the west, and skies over the rest of the country will become cloudier as the day continues. Temperatures will remain at about 27 degrees celsius, dropping during the night to 15 degrees celsius.