News Monday, DECEMBER 07th, 1998

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Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail :

EU - pork

Czech deputy premier Pavel Rychetsky says the Czech Republic wants to reach an amicable agreement in its pork controversy with the European Union. In a televised debate Sunday, Rychetsky said that the Czech side would go back to the negotiating table with "an open mind and goodwill to reach an agreement" on Monday. He said however that the EU's suggestion that the Czech government could resolve the problem through temporary subsidies to pork producers was unrealistic since the money was simply not available. The Czech government has postponed introducing a higher import tax on EU pork while the two sides are debating the issue. Meanwhile, the Social Democrat Cabinet has been criticized by the opposition for acting imprudently on this matter and damaging the country's reputation with the EU.

Discussion Forum

The weekend conference of the Czech-German Discussion Forum in Dresden is viewed as a breakthrough in the process of establishing a fruitful dialogue and settling with the past. The conference which was attended by the presidents of both states, emerged from the bilateral reconciliation accord signed in 1997 relating to SWW issues. In his closing address, German deputy foreign minister Gunter Verheugen said the meeting had shown that a dialogue was possible and the scars of the past could be healed. President Havel also noted that the Discussion Forum seemed to be an ideal platform for a moral and political settlement with the past. The Forum's next conference is to take place on Czech territory.

Social Democrats meeting

A Prague-based meeting of Social Democratic parties from Central Europe focused on European integration. The meeting was attended by Social Democrat representatives from Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and of course the Czech Republic. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, which are frontrunners in the race for admission, are already closely coordinating their steps in this direction. The three have pledged to help Slovakia make up for the lost time.

Vlk - EU integration

Cardinal Miloslav Vlk has emphasized the need to give the European integration process a cultural and spiritual dimension. Speaking to journalists in Ostrava the Cardinal said that there was a tendency to view the process as a political and economic union exclusively. The Cardinal likewise expressed concern regarding the fact that the Czech Republic had not yet managed to find a viable modus vivendi between the Church and State.

Photo expo

A photo exhibition documenting the life and work of Pope John Paul II has opened in the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in the Moravian metropolis of Brno. According to the ctk newsagency the expo portrays various stages of the Pope's life in which he comes across as a deeply caring, modest and hard-working man, who has made an indelible mark on the twentieth century. The exhibition is open until December 18th.

Carollers

If you too are caught up in the hectic pace of Xmas shopping, and feel just a bit overwhelmed by the commercial factor, you'll now be able to take a break, descend to the relative warmth of one of Prague's metro stations and stop awhile to enjoy the sound of some of the best known Czech Xmas carols sung by a live choir. The concerts will take place every Tuesday . The first at Staromestska Metro Station begins at 5pm. The second at Muzeum, at 10,30 am, and the third at Mustek, again at 10,30 am.

Now a look at the weather : winter has certainly got a good grip on central Europe. It should be another very cold day with scattered snow showers and day temps at between minus 1 and minus 5 degs. We are told to brace for even colder weather, Tuesday's nighttime temps are expected to drop to 12 degs below zero.