News Friday, NOVEMBER 20th, 1998

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Welcome to Radio Prague, I am Libor Kubik in Studio 23. Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail.

CZECH-SENATE-ELECTION

People in the Czech Republic go to the polls again today and tomorrow in the second round of elections to the Senate -- the upper house of the bicameral Czech parliament.

The elections are to one third of the 81-member Senate and the first round a week ago failed to produce clear winners.

CZECH-EU-PORK

The Czech Republic and EU officials failed to reach and agreement on Thursday on lifting subsidies for pork exports from the union.

The main opposition Civic Democratic Party has warned the government not to take unilateral protectionist steps.

Farmers from four eastern Bohemian regions had demanded earlier in the day that the government immediately halt the import of subsidised pork imports from EU countries and that it pay compensations.

Farm machines were brought in to block a busy road junction at Zdirec near the town of Havlickuv Brod as the farmers pressed for a nationwide meeting of Agrarian Chamber and senior government officials to be called by November 27.

CZECH-TELECOM-RESIGN

The director of Prague's Telecom has tendered his resignation, effective from January 1. Mr Radomir Sabela cited unacceptable political pressures being exerted on Telecom Prague and connected largely with his name.

Sabela's resignation had long been demanded by Transport and Communications Minister Antonin Peltram.

The resignation came one day after public protests and SPT Telecom boycott in Prague and elsewhere in the Czech Republic. The state monopoly organisation had announced steep tariff increases next year, which would effectively prevent the expansion of the nation's booming business on the Internet.

Hundreds of web pages were out of operation on Wednesday in protest of the planned price hikes and domestic phone calls were reduced to a minimum by angry subscribers.

SPT Telecom is licking its wounds but spokeswoman Dana Dvorakova says it is too early to assess all the damage caused by the boycott.

CZECH-CHURCH-STATE

The Czech Roman Catholic primate, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk says he expects his meeting with Minister of Culture Pavel Dostal, scheduled for Monday, to focus on forming a commission which would attempt to solve long-running dispute between the state and the church.

The Cardinal and President Vaclav Havel agreed at a meeting on Wednesday that disputes over unrestituted church property should not be vented by the media, which they said tend to misinform the public by quoting various remarks and counter-remarks out of the context.

Cardinal Vlk told Czech Radio on Thursday that communication links between his church and state organs should be upgraded.

CZECH-FRANCE

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman says he is opposed to the competition among his country, Poland and Hungary as all three countries are vying for a membership in the European Union.

He said in a meeting with his French counterpart Lionel Jospin in Prague on Thursday that the date of accession to the union depends solely on each of the contender's will to work hard.

Mr. Jospin said that while the EU was waiting to admit new candidates it was up to them to set the target date of their accession.

US-NATO-EAST

Former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said on Thursday that a failure by Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to meet their duties as members of NATO would slow down further enlargement of the alliance.

He said in Stockholm that the three new members had a political as well as a moral responsibility to fully meet their obligations for membership. If they did not meet these fully and on time, he said, it would have a negative effect on enlargement.

The three central European states were invited to start negotiations on joining NATO at its summit in Madrid last year.

CZECH-AIRLINE-EMERGENCY

Czech Airlines said on Thursday the national carrier would make up for all client losses associated by the emergency landing on Monday of a CSA flight in Canada.

A CSA Airbus long-range plane flying on the New York-Prague nonstop route was forced to make an emergency landing in Gander, Newfoundland after it developed cabin pressurisation problems. It arrived in Prague late on Wednesday with some of the original passengers still on board.

CSA spokesman Jan Bartak said his company would pay all delay and lodging compensations to the passengers but he said it was too early to calculate the final sum.

CZECH-WEATHER

The weekend's weather -- and a high pressure area will advance across central Europe to the east. The weatherman says we should expect a slightly overcast end of the week with some scattered snow showers.

Nighttime lows will be between four and eight Celsius below freezing, occasionally as low as minus 11, and daytime highs will be around freezing point on both weekend days.

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