News Saturday, JANUARY 31st, 1998

The opposition Social democrats have not yet decided how they will put together lists of candidates for early parliamentary elections, which will probably be held in June. They are considering two possibilities - primary elections or nomination conferences. Deputy chairwoman Petra Buzkova had said that she preferred choosing candidates for a primary election - not only for parliamentary, but for senatorial and local elections as well. Buzkova admitted that there were some reservations about the primary elections that were organized by the Social democrats before parliamentary elections in 1996, but they were not directed against their very principle. Buzkova further said that the decision about a "democratic choice" of candidates is equally as important as the elaboration of her party's programme on all levels.

The leaders of the Civic democratic party, headed by ex-premier Vaclav Klaus, approved on Friday its first election document, through which it starts preparing the preparation for style, concept and content of the party's pre-election campaign. Vaclav Klaus said this at a press conference in Prague. The document, designed to be sent to individual regions, contains a flow-chart on how the pre-election campaign will be conducted both from the conceptual and personal point of view. ODS deputy chairman Miroslav Macek said on Friday that his party has only been preparing for primary elections and that's why it is too early to say who will stand for the deputy post in Northern Moravia, a place where traditionally, two major rivals stood against each other - Vaclav Klaus and Social democrat leader Milos Zeman.

Czech, Polish and Hungarian Defence ministers met on Friday in the Polish capital of Warsaw at another regular meeting, as they agreed upon last July in Budapest, shortly after their countries had been invited to join NATO. According to ministry spokesman Milan Repka, the course of integration of these three Central European countries into the Alliance is the main topic on the agenda in Warsaw. The three ministers will also evaluate results from the outcomes of previous meetings, which will include possible cooperation in the sphere of military industry. The meeting in Warsaw is Defence minister Michal Lobkowitz's first trip abroad during his first four weeks in office.