News Saturday, SEPTEMBER 25th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I am Libor Kubik and here's the news. First the headlines.

Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail.


European Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said on Friday that the EU may be ready to accept new members from eastern Europe by the year 2002.

Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper quoted Verheugen, who is responsible for the EU's enlargement, as saying a series of upcoming internal institutional reforms would pave the way for the EU to be able to take in new members.

The Czech Republic and five other countries have already begun succession talks with the 15- member group.

EU leaders are expected to decide at a summit in Helsinki in December whether they will begin succession talks with any further central or eastern European countries.


The Czech Republic's troubled Moravia Bank has lost its licence to operate. This follows Thursday's decision by the Central Bank Board to strip the private Moravia of its licence because of long-standing serious shortcomings in its activity.

Our correspondent says that Moravia's bad loans and unsatisfactory portfolio were chief factors of the Central Bank's decision.

Moravia said on Friday it will appeal against the decision within the next 15 days. Moravia had previously been excluded from a stabilisation programme, sponsored by the Ministry of Finance.


Josef Lux, the former chairman of the opposition Christian Democrats, had a bone marrow transplant at a clinic in Seattle on Friday to help cure his leukaemia.

His aide said after the two-hour operation, in which Mr Lux received bone marrow from an Italian donor, that the patient was feeling well. But his doctors said complications could not be ruled out during the critical next two weeks. They said Lux would stay at the Seattle clinic for another at least five months.

Mr Lux relinquished all his party posts one year ago after announcing he was critically ill.


The Central Bohemian organisation of the ruling Social Democrats threw its weight on Friday behind their beleaguered parliamentary leader Stanislav Gross. He has offered to resign over the revelation that the mobile phone he used in the election campaign three years ago was paid for by a private advertising agency.

The Central Bohemian Social Democrats said the incident was not serious enough to warrant Mr Gross's stepping down or his sacking from the senior parliamentary post.

Our correspondent says their view is being shared by most Social Democrat MPs who said they would continue to back Gross as deputy speaker of the lower house.

The final decision is expected to be announced on Tuesday.


The Social Democrats on Friday ruled out any form of cooperation with the Communist Party.

Social Democrat Vice Chairman Zdenek Skromach rejected overtures by Communist leader Miroslav Grebenicek, who has suggested that the Social Democrats, whose approval ratings are steadily declining, could be bailed out from obscurity if they worked together with the Communists.

Skromach told journalists that his party's congress four years ago banned all forms of collaboration with the Communists of every colour and description.


Racism and xenophobia in legal practice is the keynote of a seminar in Brno, which brings together judges, state prosecutors and investigators from eight European countries.

Supreme Court President Eliska Wagnerova told correspondents on Friday that expressions of racism and xenophobia are not limited to the Czech Republic only. She said many countries are facing serious problems with racial prejudice, anti-Semitism, discrimination on religious grounds, gender inequality and linguistic hurdles.


And finally, a look at the weather in the Czech Republic.

A cold front on Saturday will bring us scattered showers, local thunderstorms and daytime highs between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius.

Night-time lows on Sunday from 11 to 15 degrees, and on Monday from nine to 13 Celsius. Daytime highs on both days around 20 degrees.

I'm Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.