News Monday, FEBRUARY 08th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Havel attends king Hussains funeral

Czech President Vaclav Havel is attending Jordanian king Hussain's funeral today. Havel joined world leaders in expressing support and compassion to Jordan's new monarch, King Abdullah, son of the deceased King Hussain. In a letter of condolence, President Havel paid tribute to King Hussain for his commitment to the search for peace in the Middle East, and underlined that without the King's contribution, positive developments in the peace process would have hardly been possible. Havel also expressed his conviction that King Abdullah will follow in his father's steps. Abdullah automatically succeeded as the fourth member of the Hashemite dynasty to rule after his father King Hussain died of cancer on Sunday at the age of 63.

Klaus ready to enter government with Christian Democrats

Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus has hinted that his party, the ODS, is prepared to participate in a possible majority government together with the Christian Democrats. He added, however, that the current stalled political situation was not providing the ODS with other alternatives than to remain in the opposition agreement with the ruling Social Democrats. He said the Social Democrat government's radical steps were bringing the ODS and the Christian Democrats closer to each other. He added that the reason why the ODS concluded the deal with the ruling Social Democrats after the June parliamentary elections was that it had no other option. Klaus said, however, that talks on the creation of a new government coalition between the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union are not likely to take place in the near future.

Y-to-y CPI 3.5 percent in January

The year-on-year consumer price index in January was 3.5 percent as compared to 6.8 percent in December. In January alone, the index rose by 0.8 percent from the previous month. For comparison, in January 1998, the consumer price index rose by 4 percent. The Czech Statistical Office said on Monday that the favourable results were mainly due to a smaller amount of price deregulations than last year.

Unemployment up in January

The unemployment rate in January rose to 8.1 percent, from 7.5 in December. According to the latest data released by the ministry of labour and social affairs on Monday, the employment offices registered more than four hundred thousand jobless people, which is an annual increase of 2.5.

Rychetsky will not apologise to Cardinal Vlk

Social Democrat deputy premier Pavel Rychetsky does not intend to apologise to Catholic Church Primate, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, for saying that Vlk was not loyal to the Czech Republic and was assuming communist practices. Rychetsky told journalists that he would by no means apologise, adding that, on the contrary, it was good to point out that Vlk should behave differently. Rychetsky said on Friday that Cardinal Vlk was not loyal to the Czech Republic citing a letter, which the government had at its disposal, in which Vlk complained about the Czech government's position to Brussels. Rychetsky had also accused cardinal Vlk of assuming communist practices, because, he said, there were indications that the Catholic Church wanted the members of the government commission on church-state relations to be approved beforehand.

4/5 of Czech negative about national economy

80 percent of Czech citizens view the state of their economy as bad or very bad, according to a recent opinion poll conducted by the Sofres-Factum agency. The perception of the national economy among Czechs has been worsening since 1996. The number of dissatisfied people has increased by more than one third since the end of 1996, when such a poll was conducted for the first time. The latest survey revealed that less than 3 percent of those polled have positive feelings about the state of the economy, while the remaining one fifth of those asked had no opinion.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather. First, let's take a look at the situation. Heavy snowfall in most regions of the Czech Republic caused traffic problems on Sunday with up to 20 centimetres of new snow, and there have been road closures, especially in Eastern and Northern Moravia. These regions were also troubled by strong winds. The low-pressure area which brought the snow will be moving further to the east. We are expecting a mostly cloudy day with snow showers, highest daytime temperatures should range from three degrees Celsius below zero to one above. Tuesday and Wednesday should also be cloudy with scattered snow showers, with temperatures below zero.

And that's the end of the news.