News Thursday, FEBRUARY 05th, 1998

Radio Prague E news Date: February 5, 1998 Written / read by: Alena Skodova

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Alna Skodova and we start as usual with the news:

Czech presence in Iraq

Czech Defence minister Michal Lobkowitz has heard no signals about the Czech republic participating in a military action against Iraq. "Were there a decision by the international community to attack Iraq, then individual states would be called upon, but so far I have heard nothing," the minister told the CTK news agency in response to a statement by presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek, who declared after a meeting on Tuesday between president Havel and NATO's Chief commander in Europe Wesley Clark, that if the UN Security council called on the international community to take military action against Iraq then the Czech republic would take part in it. Minister Lobkowitz noted though that possible Czech participation in the anti-Iraq action would first have to be discussed by the government and the parliament.

Republican protest turned down

The Constitutional court in Brno has rejected a request by the ultra- right Republican party to proclaim president Havel's election invalid. Republican spokesman Jan Vik told this to journalists on Wednesday. According to Vik, his party is not satisfied with this result and it intends to resort to the Human Rights Commission, the Council of Europe and the European parliament. "The Constitutional court has argued that the 17 Republican deputies have no right to file a protest," said Vik, claiming that the court had been looking for any way to turn down the party's protest. The Republicans consider the presidential election invalid because their leader, Miroslav Sladek, was in police custody when the vote was held, and President Havel was re-elected by only one vote. The Constitutional court explained on Wednesday that to decide about the validity of a presidential election was not in its competence, and that there was nothing in the criminal code stating who could do this.

Latest election preferences

If parliamentary elections were held today, the new party - the Freedom Union, established last month by members from the ODS political platform - would gain 10,3 percent of the vote. This is the result of the latest opinion-poll carried out by the Sofres-Factum agency. ODS preferences have dropped to an all-time low of 12 percent, while the Social democrats are at the top of the chart with 27,5 percent of the vote. 9,7 percent of respondents would give their vote to the Christian democrats, 9,6 percent to the communists and 8,2 percent to ultra-right Republicans.

Czech and German Foreign ministers meet in Bonn

Czech and German Foreign ministers, Jaroslav Sedivy and Klaus Kinkel, are meeting on Thursday in Bonn at their first bilateral meeting. The two ministers discuss relations between their two countries, but also questions related with NATO and European Union activities. Since he was appointed the Czech Foreign minister last November, Sedivy met Kinkel several times during various international ventures and also spoke with him on phone, and they mainly talked about the Czech-German Future Fund. In Bonn, Mr. Sedivy is also to meet with the Bundestag's chairman of the Foreign affairs committee, Karl-Heinz Hornhues, with whom he will discuss topical questions in the Czech-Germann relations, said the Czech Foreign ministry without further specifying what the "topical questions" will be.

Senate delegation in Baltic republics and Russia

NATO's expansion to the East will be the main topic of talks between the delegation of the Czech Senate, headed by its chairman Petr Pithart, and representatives of the three Baltic republic and Russia next week. In Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the Czech delegationn is to be received by the presidents while in Moscow - according to Pithart - they will probably be not received on an adequate level. Pithart has told newsmen that the Czech republic's standopint on NATO's expansion is not directed towards Russia. "We wish to have a strong, democratic Russia and such Russia can never consider NATO its threat," said Senate chairman Petr Pithart.

Kovac jun. detained

Czech police has detained at the Rozvadov border point with Germany Michal Kovac junior, son of the Slovak president. The Munich court issued an internaional arrest warrant on him back in 1994. Kovac was in a car with his attorney, who said that Kovac was just on the way to Munich to witness at his own cause. Kovac was escorted to the Pilsen prison where he will wait for a decision to be handed over to German authorities.


And finally a quick look at the weather: We expect mostly clear skies in the Czech republic today, with afternnon highs between -5 and 1 degrees Celsius.