News Thursday, AUGUST 13th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-news Date: August 13th, 1998 Written/read by: Daniela Lazarova

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

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail

Government session

The Czech government has earmarked 900 million crowns from the state budget to help flood victims in north-east Bohemia. The unexpected expenses will be covered by tax revenues which have been higher than expected due to higher interest rates. The Cabinet also debated the future of Temelin, the unfinished nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia, approving a plan for the establishment of a 12 member team of independent experts which is to assess the controversial project by the end of this year. Three persons on that commission are to be representatives of the European Union, one would represent the OECD. On the grounds of that audit the government will then decide Temelin's fate.

Kohl slams Zeman

Czech foreign ministry officials have reacted with amazement to Chancellor Kohl's verbal attack on Czech prime minister Milos Zeman. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on Wednesday slammed the Czech prime minister at a press conference in Bonn, accusing him of interfering in Germany's election campaign. He was referring to an alleged claim that the current tension between Prague and Bonn would be diffused more easily should the German Social Democratic party win the upcoming elections.

Chancellor Kohl said this form of intervention by a foreign head of government was totally unacceptable and unprecedented in Europe. Reacting to the Chancellor's comments, a Czech foreign ministry spokesman said the Czech prime minister never made such a statement. "The Chancellor must have confused Milos Zeman with somebody else", the spokesman suggested. A foreign ministry official expressed disappointment over this latest snag in relations, attributing it to heightened tension in the run up to Germany's elections. The German dpa newsagency says in this connection that on August 6th it ran a story from Prague in which a close advisor to Zeman -speaking on condition of anonymity - said an SPD government in Bonn would make it easier for both countries to improve ties.

President Havel getting better

President Havel who is recovering from intestinal surgery and bronchial post-op complications at Prague's Military Hospital is said to be doing well. The lung inflammation is receding and his temperature is back to normal. Reports say the president is now capable of taking short walks in the vicinity of his hospital room, and spends much of his time reading the papers and watching tv. However doctors are as yet unwilling to say when they plan to remove his tracheotomy, a device to assist his breathing.

Clean Hands operation

The left-wing minority government of Milos Zeman is ready to launch operation "Clean Hands" to unearth corruption and illegal financial practices at all levels. Deputy premier Pavel Rychtsky told journalists the Cabinet had approved criteria on the grounds of which controversial privatization cases and other deals could be investigated. The government will also take steps to introduce tougher control mechanisms as a preventive measure.

Illegal migrants

The government is also determined to curb the stream of illegal migrants using the Czech Republic as a transit state. The number of foreigners who are staying here illegally is officially estimated at around 25,000 but experts suggest the number is much higher. This will mean stricter border control, speedier deportations, and more attention paid to false letters-of-invitation from individuals and institutes on the ground of which many of these migrants enter the country.

Weather

Meanwhile, similarly as people elsewhere in Europe, many Czechs are labouring under the current heatwave. The ctk newsagency reports an unusually high incidence of heat-related health problems as well as fires. People have been requested to take extra care with their health and not leave pets or flammable objects in their cars. A cold front moving across the Czech Republic should bring some relief on Thursday when day temperatures are expected to drop to a pleasant 23 to 27 degs.

That's the end of the news.