News Sunday, NOVEMBER 14th, 1999

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm DL and we begin as usual with a look at the main news stories this hour

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail:

Cabinet approves state budget proposal

The Czech Cabinet has approved an amended draft proposal for next year's state budget. As opposed to an earlier draft rejected by Parliament, both income and expenditures have been reduced although the projected deficit has climbed by over 2 billion to an estimated 42 billion crowns. Finance minister Pavel Mertlik told journalists on Saturday that the budget proposal had met with unanimous approval and would be put before Parliament at the beginning of December.

Vice premier to resign

It has been announced that vice-premier Egon Lansky is to resign from his post as soon as his health allows. Doctors who are attending him say he may be released from hospital within the space of a week. Lansky holds the EU portfolio in the Social Democrat cabinet and his fate was sealed by the highly critical progress report recently released by the EU. Meanwhile premier Zeman has come under fire for refusing to sack health minister Ivan David. Zeman said Friday he wanted Parliament to decide the minister's fate. Jan Ruml of the right wing Freedom Union called on Zeman to shoulder his responsibilities adding that if the Premier did not have the courage to rid himself of an incompetent minister then Parliament should think about ridding the country of an incompetent premier.

Talks on possible changes in government fail

Saturday's political negotiations on possible changes in government have failed to produce results. Four Czech political parties, including the ruling Social Democrats, debated the possibility of setting up a majority government which would be in a better position to address the country's economic problems but they failed to agree on which parties should take part in it. The right-of-centre Civic Democrats, who initiated the meeting, pushed for a broad coalition of all parliamentary parties with the exception of the communists and while the ruling Social Democrats unexpectedly agreed with the proposal it was swept off the negotiating table by the Freedom Union and Christian Democrats who are only willing to discuss a centre-right coalition.

Aid to Turkey

A Czech rescue team with sniffer dogs and a team of firefighters flew to Ankara early on Saturday to help the international rescue operation in the aftermath of an earthquake in the northwestern Turkish region of Bolu . The quake, which registered 7.2 on the Richter scale, killed at least 321 people and left many more trapped in the rubble. The first plane out carried 4 tons of emergency supplies and communication channels with Ankara are open for further aid. The Czech government has earmarked one and a half million crowns in humanitarian aid for Turkey and the Czech branch of the Red Cross has launched an appeal for public donations to help the thousands of people left homeless.

/Bank account at Komercni Banka, Prague 1. Account number : 10030-7334- 011/0100 variabilni symbol 666 Turecko./

Letter of support sent to Cuban dissidents

Former dissidents who helped to bring down entrenched communist governments in central and eastern Europe a decade ago have sent a letter of encouragement and support to Cuban pro-democracy campaigners. "Please accept our admiration, our thanks and our assurances that we are with you in your difficult situation," says the letter. "It is you – and not your jailers – who represent the best revolutionary traditions of your country and who are a guarantee of a better future". The open letter is sighed by 35 prominent ex- dissidents including President Havel, former Polish President Lech Walesa and Elena Bonner, widow of Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov.

And finally a brief look at the weather:

Sunday should be another gray and overcast day with drizzle and day temps between 2 and 6 degs C. Nighttime temperatures around freezing point.