News Sunday, MARCH 08th, 1998

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Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm AS and we begin as usual with the headlines:

Those were the main points and now the news in detail:

ODA Congress in Jihlava

Acting chairman of the Civic democratic alliance, ODA, Daniel Kroupa, has delivered a report on the present state and future expectations of his party at the ODA Central Congress in the towm of Jihlava. Kroupa did not want to disclose further details about the session, held behind closed doors. "I was talking about our present situation, and the future of ODA," Kroupa told the CTK news agency. Preparations for an ODA conference in April, electing new leaders for the Central congress, and tax reductions are the main topics on the agenda of Saturday's ODA session. After financial scandals and the resignation of the party's top representatives that followed, the Civic democratic alliance has lost many potential voters. That's why Miroslav Toser, spokesman for the regional organizations of the alliance, wants to open the question of ODA's strategy and the chances that right-wing parties have in the early parliamentary elections, due to be held in June. Toser suggests that his party should cooperate with the Civic democratic party and the Freedom Union, as without them, with current polls indicating that ODA would receive only 3 percent of the vote, it wouldn't make it to the future parliament.

Romanies seek asylum in the USA

At the United States embassy in Prague, American Representatives of the Romany civic initiative from the North Moravian town of Ostrava have filed an application that asks for collective asylum for all Romanies. In the event that the embassy does not meet their demand, Czech Romanies are prepared to send the application to the US Congress. A member of the American Congress, Erika Schlager, is to come to the Czech republic this weekend and start negotiations with government officials and representatives of non-governmental and humanitarian organizations about the Romany problem in our country. Talking about the Romany application, Schlager said she couln't comment on it so far, but she said the experience of the Helsinki committee has shown that people find it quite hard to flee from their country. "If the Romanies are ready to leave their homeland, then it's a strong signal," said Erika Schlager.

Neubauer - Sudeten Germans

According to the chairman of the Sudetan German landsmanschaft there are still problems that need to be addressed in the relationship between the Czech republic and Germany, and they mainly concern the Sudeten Germans. Franz Neubauer told this to the CTK news agency in Munich. These problems can only be solved by the governments of the two countries and they should do it as soon as possible, with the participation of the Sudeten Germans, said Neubauer. The recemtly established Czech-German Discussion forum, of which Neubauer is a member, can contribute to solving the existing problems if both sides prepare proposals, he added. Neubauer had expressed disappointment about the reaction his appointment to the Forum caused in the the Czech republic but said he hoped the Forum would not become a place for confrontation.

And that's the end of the news.