News Monday, JUNE 15th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-news date: June 15th, 1998 written/read by: Daniela Lazarova

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm DL and we begin as usual with a look at the main newsstories this hour

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

Havel - TV address

Addressing Czechs on public television just a week before general elections President Havel appealed for a strong turnout. He said even if voters had good reason to feel disgruntled voting with their feet was not the answer. Havel said that, although the Social Democrats seemed likely to win the elections, he did not believe there was any danger of the country's reverting to communism. What this cross roads is about is whether the country will become a civilized European democracy with a political culture based on cooperation and dialogue or whether we will slide to the level of a banana republic, the president explained.

Klaus says: beware of left turn

Meanwhile in a televised debate Sunday ODS leader Vaclav Klaus called on Czechs to rally against the danger of a left wing government which would inevitably drag the country back into the dark era of a centrally planned communist economy. Don't let 1998 follow the examples of 1948 and 1968, Klaus said, telling Czechs every voice was crucial in the fight ahead. The former premier appeared bent on victory, saying that even as he spoke the small 2,5 percent gap between the ODS and Social Democrats was being evened out and that in the interest of averting "the worst case scenario for the Czech Republic" he was prepared to go into coalition with the Christian Democrats and Freedom Union .

Romanies come home

Six hundred of the 1,500 Romanies who sought political asylum in Canada late last year have returned to their homeland. The latest batch of 11 arrived at Prague's Ruzyne Airport on Sunday. They said they had decided to return because their relatives had not been allowed to join them and because the elder ones in particular felt homesick in a foreign environment. This has led some observers to suggest that economic not political reasons were behind the mass exodus to Canada. In consequence Canada terminated its visa-free agreement with the Czech Republic.

Hendricks in Prague

At a press conference in Prague, US soprano and human rights activist Barbara Hendricks sent greetings to President Havel and wished him a speedy recovery. Hendricks, who took part in the Janacek Music Festival in Ostrava, said President Havel's beliefs were close to her own heart. "I grew up in the States at a time when blacks fought for their rights and I believe fervently in striving for harmony and coexistence between different races" the US soprano told Czechs.

And finally, a look at the weather:

Monday is expected to be partly cloudy with intervals of sunshine and day temps between 16 and 20 degs C.