News Sunday, MARCH 29th, 1998

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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.

FU's programme

The recently established Freedom Union has introduced eight basic points of their political programme. These will be, besides others, changing the electorial system, lowering taxes, and reforming the pension system. The Freedom Union's election leader announced this on Saturday, in Prague.

The right-of-center Freedom Union was established in February by rebels from the Civic Democratic Party of Vaclav Klaus, and despite the fact that it had no political programme, it became the second most popular party.

EU accession talks in 1998

Czech chief negotiator for the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union, Pavel Telicka, expects the first round of accession negotiations, which starts next week, to be concluded by the end of this year. He said there were about 80 thousand pages of legal documents to be assessed during this period.

Mr. Telicka said politicians want the process to be as quick as possible and that he, in his role as chief negotiator, would do his best to complete the talks by the year 2000.

He said the first stage of the negotiations will include comparing Czech legislation with EU directives, regulations, standards, rulings and agreements. Based on the results of this so-called screening, it will be decided which norms need not be changed, which need no more than technical fine-tuning and which must be re-worked.

The EU accession talks officially start on Monday in Brussels.

Lux anticipates scandal

Christian Democrat leader Josef Lux said on Saturday he had indications that an affair similar to those that recently afflicted the Civic Democratic Party and the Social Democrats is being prepared for his party as well. He said there were people who would like to see the Christian Democratic Party in trouble.

Lux confirmed that his party would welcome a broad coalition with the Freedom Union and the Social Democrats and ruled out the possibility of forming a coalition with the Civic Democratic Party which, in his opinion, has not changed its policies because of which the former ruling coalition collapsed.

Lux about economy

The Christian Democrats at their congress on Saturday were looking for ways to liven up the stagnating Czech economy. Party leader Josef Lux said it was necessary to lower direct taxes and create conditions to attract foreign investors, because there wasn't enough domestic capital to re-start economic growth.

According to Czech Chamber of commerce president Zdenek Sommer, the biggest problems that private businesses face are a lack of money and the state's inability to enforce law in the commercial sphere.

SocDem candidates trained by foreign experts

Social Democrat candidates for the June general elections are currently being trained by experts from Sweden and Great Britain in skills like communication with media, rhetoric and basic principles of election campaign strategy.

The training is being financed by the Westminster Foundation and Olof Palme Institute, which sponsored the Czech Social Democrats in the past years.

Republicans re-elect Sladek chairman

The far-right Republican party on Saturday re-elected Miroslav Sladek party chairman. Sladek was the only candidate for the post.

He received 202 votes out of 203 because he did not vote.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather. We are expecting a partially cloudy day with scattered showers, afternoon highs should range from 12 to 16 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.