News Sunday, OCTOBER 04th, 1998

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

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

Havel -unification

Attending unity day celebrations in Hanover, President Havel heaped praise on outgoing Chancellor Helmut Kohl for forging German unification and advancing European union. He described Germany as "Europe's unification laboratory" and said that for the first time in two thousand years Europe had a real chance to build a common home in which its nations could live in peace, security and freedom. For this to come about, Havel said, it was necessary to suppress the worst of Europe's traits, such as blind nationalist fervour and intolerance, and build on the best of its values and traditions. The Czech President met briefly with chancellor-designate Gerhard Schroder, wishing him much success in his future position. Havel said later Schroder had accepted his invitation to visit Prague.

Natural disasters' law to be amended

Rescue workers have renewed calls for a legislation which would give them more decision making powers in the event of natural disasters. Rescue teams, which worked around the clock to save people caught up in last year's devastating floods in Moravia, insist that had they been in a position to take full command of the situation many lives could have been saved and many more would not have been repeatedly put at risk. For instance, many people clung blindly to their homes and property in the face on mounting water levels and rescue teams would be forced to return again and again to the same flooded homes and waste time trying to persuade inhabitants to allow themselves to be airlifted or taken away by boat. The interior ministry is currently in the process of drafting an amendment to the country's law on natural disasters.

Wage rises unlikely

Social affairs minister Vladimir Spidla has warned Czechs that 1999 would not bring any marked improvement in their living standard. As the governing Social Democrats face opposition on their proposed 28 billion crown budget deficit for 1999, they are having to reassess their election promises of higher wages and pensions. In the harsh light of present day reality, Spidla has told state employees not to expect wage rises of more than a few hundred crowns, if any, and warned that pensions could actually drop by 500 crowns if Parliament failed to approve a proposed rise of pension insurance fees by 2,4%. The extra income generated by the higher fees would tide us over, Spidla said , without it we'd be seriously short on pension funds.

Czech prima donna at the Met

The prima donna of Czech opera, Eve Urbanova, on Friday night starred in Giacomo Puccini's Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She was rewarded by a standing ovation and the ctk described the evening as the high point of her career.

Finally, a look at the weather here in central Europe- nothing enviable - its a grey and dismal weekend with overcast skies and drizzle. Day temps. between 8 and 12 degs C. Nighttime lows between 6 and 2 degs.