News Monday, OCTOBER 12th, 1998

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Welcome to the programme. I'm AS and first we bring you the headlines:

Those were the main points, and now the news in a more detail:

Forum 2000 in Prague

A second international conference Forum 2000 is underway in Prague. The meeting brings together some 500 experts on economy, social sciences and politology from around the world, including former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the Israeli Rabbi Meir Lau and the American First Lady Hillary Clinton. The main topics under discussion at the three-day conference are the present forms of government, global issues and human rights. In his opening speech president Vaclav Havel explained that during his trips abroad he felt the need for people from different cultural and religious environments meeting in one place for a peaceful discussion. Thanks to its rich history, Prague seemed to be a convenient place, Havel explained. The Czech president noted that although nobody hopes that the Prague Forum will change the course of the universe, we should be able to articulate all the threats our civilization is facing and seek all possible ways to avert all the dangers, president Havel told the Forum's participants. Mrs.Clinton arrives in Prague on Monday afternoon and her address will take up the theme of a civic society.

Central European summit in Vienna

Central European presidents have been holding a summit meeting in Vienna. But only six of them are taking part. Italian President Luigi Scalfaro excused himself, citing the government crisis in his country, and Slovakia has not yet elected a new president. The summit is hosted by Austrian President Thomas Klestil and the main themes under discussion are the European integration and concrete cooperation between the Central European countries. Austria considers the meeting a historical event, as since the Vienna congress held back in 1815, the Austrian capital has not seen so many heads of state together.

Van den Broek in Prague

European Commissioner Hans van den Broek, who is responsible for the European Union's eastward enlargement, is arriving in Prague on Monday, to check this country's preparations for getting compatible with EU before entering the Union. He will - quite traditionally - lay stress on the necessary reforms to be made in the state administration, judiciary and the banking and financial sectors. He will also discuss the re- structuring of Czech industry and how the Czech Republic is addressing the problem of its Roma ethnic minority. Mr. Van den Broek's visit in Prague follows his debate with Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and Premier Milos Zeman in Brussels at the end of September, where the EU expressed its satisfaction with the Czech government's policy statement.

Banks are safe

General managers of the two biggest Czech banks - Jaroslav Klapal of the Czech Savings Bank and Jan Kollert of the Commercial Bank - see as the main reason for an unexpected slump of their shares at the Prague stock- exchange someone's attempt to lower the selling price of the two banking houses before their privatization. The two managers plan to file a lawsuit for spreading a false alarm. They have assured their clients that their deposits in both banks are safe.

Steeple chase

Horse racing -- and the 108th Grand Pardubice Steeplechase -- Continental Europe toughest race, was won by two lengths by Czech jockey Zdenek Matysik riding the horse Peruan, who won his owner 3.2 million Czech crowns. The British jockey Richard Dunwoody's horse Risk of Thunder, the race's favourite, stumbled on the 6th steeple and was withdrawn.

Weather

And finally the weather forecast for today: It will be cloudy to overcast with scattered rain showers, and daytime highs between 9 and 13 degrees Celsius.