News Monday, SEPTEMBER 27th, 1999

A very good welcome to you from Radio Prague. And we begin as usual with the news read by Libor Kubik. First the headlines.


Czech President Vaclav Havel is to meet Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic at Lany Castle later in the day. The Czech news agency CTK reports they want to give a fresh impetus to the slackening opposition movement against the regime of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

Draskovic, who leads the opposition Serbian Movement for Reconstruction, is currently embroiled in a bitter dispute with other anti-Milosevic groups.


Defence Minister Vladimir Vetchy is to visit a Czech field hospital operating just outside the Turkish town of Izmit at the epicentre of last month's disastrous earthquake, which killed thousands of people.

The visit precedes two days of Czech-Turkish talks in Ankara.

The Czech hospital is expected to remain in operation for at least four months at the cost not to exceed 164 million crowns.


Social Democrat Vice Premier Egon Lansky has said he will resign if the Czech Republic proves to be the worst among the hot contenders for membership in the European Union.

An EU report on the candidate countries progress is due in the middle of October.

Mr Lansky, who is responsible in the government for steps to be taken in the interest of his country's EU membership, said on Sunday he would offer to step down if his personal failure were ascertained.

Our correspondent says the Czech Republic, together with Slovenia, is the lowest-rated country among the seven which hope to join the EU early in the next decade.


Czech communists say they would stop the privatisation of key enterprises if they were given a realistic chance to influence political developments on government level.

The party's parliamentary leader Vojtech Filip said on Sunday that the communists would also reintroduce free health care and education, as well as increase direct taxes.

Filip said during a roundtable discussion on public-service Czech TV that his party would stop the privatisation of banks and coerce debtors to either pay to the state or return the companies they have privatised.

His opponent Vladimir Mlynar, an MP for the right-wing Freedom Union, argued that this would burden the private sector with prohibitively high taxes that would effectively destroy private enterprise in the Czech Republic.

The unreformed Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia the third strongest in this country now enjoys approval ratings in the vicinity of 20 percent.


Independent candidates emerged victorious from most of the six local by-elections held at the weekend.

Fresh elections were called in the communities where the number of local councillors has dropped below the legal limit since last year.

Our correspondent says the independents gains underscore the deepening political crisis in the Czech Republic.


The Social Democrats parliamentary chief Stanislav Gross has indicated he will step down unless he gets the support of a vast majority of his ruling party.

Mr Gross is facing accusations that the bills for the mobile telephone he used during and after an election campaign three years ago were paid by a private advertising agency.

Speaking in a Sunday discussion programme on private TV Nova, he said his party should vote on his future as parliamentary leader. He said he would resign unless the support for him is really substantial and overwhelming.

Our correspondent says that the youthful Mr Gross may be the victim of factional fighting within the top echelons of the ruling Czech Social Democratic Party.


Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson arrives in Prague on Tuesday at the start of his two-day visit to the Czech Republic the first-ever in history.

His talks with Czech Premier Milos Zeman are to concentrate on reforms within the European Union and their impact on the union's enlargement.


Tennis and the Czech Republic thrashed Uzbekistan 5-0 in their Davis Cup world group play-off tie on Sunday in Tashkent to remain among the tennis elite for another year.

The Czechs, who clinched the three-day tie with a doubles victory on Saturday, made two changes in their line-up, bringing newcomers Petr Kravert and David Rikl for veterans Jiri Novak and Daniel Vacek.

Athletics and Ukrainian runner Nikolai Antonenko and Czech girl Petra Drajzajtlova became the winners of the traditional Prague-to-Bechovice road race on Sunday.

The Ukrainian negotiated the 10-kilometre route in just over 30 minutes, five seconds ahead of his Czech rival Pavel Faschingerbauer.


And finally, the weather report.

A cold air intrusion spells out a rather wet start of the week here in the Czech Republic, with early morning lows between eight and 12 degrees Celsius. The rain should subside later on Monday when we are expecting the afternoon highs to reach to between 16 and 21 degrees. Tuesday will be a wet day with early morning fogs. Night-time temperatures between seven and 11 Celsius will usher us into a mild day with afternoon highs from 17 to 21 degrees.