News Monday, SEPTEMBER 28th, 1998

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Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Pauline Newman first we start with a look at the main headlines of the day:

You are tuned to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines, now let's take a look at the news in full:

Elections / Reactions

Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder swept to a stunning victory over Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the German elections on Sunday, with a majority for a letist coalition with the Greens.

The Czech Social Democrat government of Milos Zeman was quick to congratulate the SPD party on its vistory. A government spokesman said Prague expects Czech - German relations to continue as normal on all basic points. He added that a Social Democrat government in Germany, should simplify matters in several areas.

As far as the Sudeten German issue is concerned, the spokesman said he expects both governments to now look towards the future and stop examing the past.

The Sudeten German issue is a matter left over from the end of World War Two which has dogged Czech - German ties over the last few years.

In the meantime, a change of government in Slovakia is also on the cards, after the official announcement of the election results on Sunday, put the opposition parties clearly ahead of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's HZDS party.

Although this remained the strongest party with 27.1% of the vote, the opposition parties together won over 60%.

In Prague, Czech President Vaclav Havel sent Mr Meciar a brief telegram of congratulation. He also sent a telegram to the Slovak opposition leader Mikulas Dzurinda, this time much longer, in which he expressed a desire to see the opposition form a government. He said the result of the election would lead to more: "Civic freedoms, stabilising democratic institutions and thus leading to an economic revival".

And we'll be bringing you a more detailed update of the Czech reaction to elections in Slovakia and Germany later on in the programme.

ODS / Shadow cabinet

The executive council of the Civic Democratic Party, the ODS, approved over the weekend, its new shadow cabinet, with Vaclav Klaus as Premier.

It immediately came under fire from the opposition Christian democrats, who spoke of "ODS cabaret policies". The other opposition party, the Freedom Union, said it saw no reason for a shadow cabinet. A spokesman said that it seemed a little strange that after helping the Social democrats set up government, the ODS forms a shadow cabinet.

The ODS executive council also approved the text of its election manifesto for the November communal and Senate elections. The manifesto is aimed largely at mobilising people not only against social democratic policies, but also against the opposition parties - the Freedom Union and the Christian democrats.

The party decided during its session, not to vote for the 1999 draft budget, which the Social democrat government wants to push through parliament. A highly placed ODS official said the executive council decided that it could neither tolerate not give its support to a budget which has a deficit of almost 28 billion crowns.

It is expected that the draft will have a tough time making it through parliament, since it has met with steady refusal from all the right wing parliamentary opposition parties.

Havel / Lany

Czech President Vaclav Havel said over the weekend, that he went to America last week, mainly to thank Bill Clinton and US congress for their role in NATO's expansion eastward.

"I see it as my duty to ensure security for future generations" said Vaclav Havel. He stressed that member states should take in any country which respects and values the principles upon which NATO was established.

The Czech President was speaking in an interview for Czech radio along with the well known liberal philosopher, Vaclav Belohradsky, who confessed that he was against NATO.

Vaclav Havel said that when he was in Washington, he noticed a fear of Russia, which on Saturday he called "incomprehensible". "I kept hearing about Russia's atomic arsenal, it was as though they did not know that most of those bombs have either gone rusty or are past their sell by date" commented Havel. He added that although he approves of western financial support for the Russian economy, he dislikes seeing money being thrown into a black hole.

As far as the Monica Lewinsky affair is concerned, Vaclav Havel said he is bored with hearing about it and does not understand why so much attention is being paid to a mere scandal.

BIS / Screening

The Czech intelligence service, the BIS, has begun carrying out government instructions and screening possible candidates for the post of director in state or partially state owned companies.

This move comes after a very unclear start which also saw the BIS spokesman removed from his post. According to an agreement between the government and director of the BIS Karel Vulterin, the service is only to check that potential company directors are not blacklisted or "unsuitable" in any way for the post. A more thorough screening will be carried out by individual ministers.

The government's decision to screen the candidates roused a storm of criticism a month ago, from opposition members and security experts, who argued that it was an illegal intrusion.

Tennis / Victory

The Czech Republic beat South Africa in straight sets in Saturday's doubles, to take an unbeatable 3-0 lead in their Davis Cup qualifying tie. This has secured a world group place for next year's competition.

Jiri Novak and David Rikl strolled to an easy 6-4 6-2 6-2 victory over Wayne Ferreira and Piet Norval in one hour and 37 minutes.

Whatever the outcome of Sunday's reverse singles, the Czech Republic will return to the Davis Cup elite world group next year after this year's first round loss against Switzerland.

And we end as usual with a brief look at the weather:

Monday will be slightly cooler than Sunday, with temperatures ranging from 17 to 20 degrees celsius. Skies will be cloudy and it is possible that there will be some rain towards the evening. It will be quite chilly overnight, with temperatures dropping to 4 degrees celsius.

I'm Pauline Newman and that's the end of the news.