News Sunday, OCTOBER 25th, 1998


Czech President Vaclav Havel and the First Lady paid a brief visit to the German city of Muenster on Saturday for ceremonies marking the 350th anniversary of the Treaty of Westphalia which ended the Thirty Years' War in 1648.

German President Roman Herzog welcomed representatives from 20 countries, including six monarchs and hundreds of spectators.

One of the longest and most terrible wars in history eventually became the first military conflict to be resolved at the negotiating table.

The war, in which millions of Europeans died, was triggered in 1618 by a revolt of the Protestants in Bohemia against the policies of the Catholic government in Prague, and kept spreading for more than 20 years.


The Czech Social Democrat Premier Milos Zeman said on Saturday that his party has a scenario on hand in case the right-wing ODS backs away from a deal which in fact enabled the Social Democrats to form a minority government after last June's elections.

Zeman told Saturday's Mlada Fronta Dnes that his party must consider all options. But he dodged the paper's question whether his plan counts on the support of the maverick Christian Democrats.

Mr Zeman said that his party would never violate political agreements with other partners.


It was announced in Prague that French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin will visit the Czech Republic in the middle of November.

Sources in Paris said on Saturday that it will be his first visit to a former Communist state seeking entry into the European Union.


The Czech crown jewels went on public display in Prague on Saturday as the country prepared to mark the 80th anniversary of the foundation of an independent Czechoslovak state in 1918. The anniversary falls on Wednesday. Radio Prague will mark this occasion with a special programme.

The exhibition is free and will run through next Sunday.

The Czech regalia consist of a priceless crown, orb and sceptre, accompanied by the coronation rood and the cherished St. Wenceslas Sword.

Seven keys in the hands of seven state and church dignitaries were needed to unlock the strongly guarded vault at the Prague Castle, where the jewels have been kept since the Middle Ages.


Patriarch Josef Spak of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church said on Saturday he thinks democracy often receives short shrift in the Czech Republic.

Spak told a meeting of his party's elders on Saturday, marking the Czechoslovak anniversary, that small interest groups often benefit from loopholes in the Czech legal system. He said most Czechs feel deceived and angered by undemocratic moves but he did not elaborate.

On the other hand, he acknowledged that the political and legal system in today's Czech Republic enables voters to unseat a government if its performance is found to be unsatisfactory.


A three-day festival of Czech films from the 1990s is in progress in the Kennedy Centre in Washington.

Five films are being shown, including "Marian", film director Petr Vaclav's critical view of ethnic problems in the modern-day Czech society.

The festival, jointly sponsored by the Prague Film Institute and the Czech embassy in Washington, will then move on to universities in Cleveland, Houston, Palm Springs, California, and New York.


In the News of the Weird today, the Velorex -- the legendary motor tricycle developed in this country in the late 40s and designed to provide cheap transport for physically handicapped people -- may yet make it big.

A specimen of this steel-tube frame on three wheels, coated in denim, will attempt to break the world speed record in its class on Wednesday on the Masaryk Car Race Circuit in Brno.

Formerly known as the Oskar, this strange vehicle is part of the Czech folklore and the butt of so many jokes it rivals East Germany's plastic wheel wonder, the Trabant.


Tennis -- and Second-seed Andre Agassi beat Wayne Black of Zimbabwe 7-6 6-3 in Saturday's semifinals of the Czech Indoor men's tournament in Ostrava.

And that's the end of the news.