News Thursday, APRIL 30th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-news date: April 30th, 1998 written/read by : Daniela Lazarova

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

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

Senate

The Czech upper house of Parliament, the Senate, is due to vote on the country's membership in NATO later today. The ratification is expected to win approval from an overwhelming majority since the current governing coalition, which holds the vast majority of seats, is unanimously in favour of the Czech Republic's accession to NATO. The opposition social democrats have likewise expressed support, with the exception of a single deputy . The republicans are not represented in the Senate and the communists, who are also against NATO membership, hold only two seats. The Lower House of Parliament has already ratified the country's membership in NATO, with 154 deputies in favour, 38 against.

Meanwhile, the US Senate is also due to vote on NATO's expansion to the Czech republic, Poland and Hungary later today.

Railroad - accidents

Transport minister Petr Moos has demanded the dismissal of several high-placed rail-management officials in the wake of a series of railroad accidents. A preliminary investigation of all three accidents, two run away trains and a head on collision in which 12 people were seriously injured on Tuesday, pointed to human error, namely negligence on the part of railway employees. Minister Moos stressed that immediate action must be taken to reinstate proper work discipline and a feeling of responsibility among rail employees. He said the present attitude, including a mood of carelessness and general depression, was a result of past problems.

Havel - health

President Vaclav Havel, who is recovering from emergency surgery in Austria, is reported to be making good progress. Doctors report he is now able to speak and has overcome the difficulties resulting from being kept in an artificial sleep for 5 successive days. The president's daily routine now includes breathing exercises and exercises designed to boost muscle strength and improve coordination. Although it is not yet clear when he will be transferred back to Prague, it has been arranged that chief surgeon Ernst Bodner will travel to Prague to perform the final operation which involves removing the temporary colostomy bag. Barring complications, that should take place in about 5 weeks time.

Government -floods

The Czech government has pledged to finance 80% of the cost of road reconstruction work in areas damaged by last year's floods. The remaining 20% will have to be financed from local budgets. According to preliminary estimates the state's contribution will be around four billion crowns. Money in aid of rebuilding homes will be released separately by the ministry for regional development.

Lux-EU

Agriculture minister Josef Lux is to hold talks with EU officials in Prague today , in an effort to try and reconcile differences over apple import quotas introduced by the Czech Republic some time ago. The EU claims the move to be in violation of the Union's association agreement with the Czech Republic and has approved retaliatory measures.

"Nuclearland" entertainment park

At a press conference in Prague Wednesday the Greens party proposed turning the uncompleted nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia into a "Nuclearland" entertainment park. The Greens who have fought for the Temelin nuclear plant to be scrapped since 1992, claim that investors from the Netherlands and the United States would be interested in co- financing the project, and help from nuclear-free Austria could also be expected. The Greens enumerated a number of advantages saying the plant would not have to be totally dismantled, the entertainment park would provide job opportunities for the locals and bring an annual 185 million crowns to state coffers. The Tosovsky cabinet recently re- opened the question of whether or not Temelin should be made operational.

Noise pollution -won't take a break

Wednesday's effort to draw attention to the growing problem of noise pollution by a minute of silence at 2.15 pm was a dismal failure. According to the ctk newsagency few people bothered to respect it. The majority of radio stations paid no attention to it and few shops or restaurants in the city bothered to turn down the volume. April 29th was International Day against Noise Pollution, marked world-wide.

Finally a look at the weather:

Thursday should be partly cloudy with intervals of sunshine and scattered showers. Day temps between 18 and 22 degs. Same temps are forecast for the next two days....