News Sunday, DECEMBER 20th, 1998

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Mertlik about unemployment

Deputy premier for economic policy Pavel Mertlik has described the situation with unemployment in the Czech Republic as a crisis. He told daily PRAVO that unemployment around ten percent next year could be called a success. But in case revitalisation measures planned by the government fail, the unemployment rate could rise to around 12 percent. He said the plan included an active policy on the labour market and the creation of new jobs through investment. Minister Mertlik said he expected a further worsening of the situation of some industrial companies which would result in a series of bankruptcies.

Sedivy goes to the Balkans

Czech army chief of staff general Jiri Sedivy has visited the Czech contingent in the SFOR peacekeeping forces in Bosnia Hertzegovina. The defence ministry said that the visit was not an inspection but only a meeting with the soldiers before Christmas. For Czech soldiers in North-Western Bosnia Christmas will be an ordinary working day, because local people celebrate the holiday in January, according to the orthodox calendar.

Havel OK

President Vaclav Havel has recovered from his latest health problems, his doctor Ilja Kotik told reporters. Kotik said the president's temperature had been normal for three days, and he was able to spend some time out of bed. President Havel was stricken with a respiratory tract virus last weekend, and was forced to put off his official agenda. According to doctor Kotik, Havel will be able to go on a planned three-week holiday in a few days.

Christmas time of Czech politicians

Most Czech top politicians will spend Christmas with their families and in the Czech Republic. The only exception is lower house speaker Vaclav Klaus who will spend the holidays in the Alps in Austria.

ODA celebrates 9th birthday

The right-wing Civic Democratic Alliance has celebrated its ninth birthday on Saturday. The party was a junior partner in the previous three coalition governments. After a scandal around the party's financing earlier this year, it nearly broke up and did not nominate any candidates in the June general elections. Nevertheless, in the Senate elections it did succeed as a part of a coalition of four right-wing parties.

Ice hockey

The Czech ice-hockey team lost to Sweden 2 - 1 in the Baltika cup in Moscow. The scorers were Mattsson and Karlsson for Sweden, and Caloun for the Czech Republic.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a mostly cloudy day with scattered showers, afternoon highs should range from 1 to 5 degrees Celsius. And a brief outlook for Monday and Tuesday: it should still be mostly cloudy but occassinal snow showers may occur, and the highest daytime temperatures should drop to around zero.

And that's the end of the news.