News Thursday, JANUARY 15th, 1998

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Radio Prague E news Date: January 15, 1998 Written / read by: Alena Skodova

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm AS and we start with the news:

Cabinet - policy statement

At its second session on Wednesday the new Czech government discussed its policy statement, which may include a pledge to lead the country to early parliamentary elections in June. All ministers have contributed to the cabinet's political programme, now outlined till June, although the original version counted on early elections in autumn. Following broad political consensus, the cabinet decided that it would submit to the House of Deputies a bill on state soil and the House would not discuss it for 90 days, which would enable the president to dissolve parliament and call general elections for June 19th. Although the government has now reached agreement on the basic principles of its policy statement, the political programme is to be discussed further at the cabinet's next session. The cabinet must ask parliament for a vote of confidence by February 2nd.

New party

The new right-wing party, which is being established my members of the anti-Klaus rebel faction who left the ODS has been attracting a lot of people - according to the coordinator of the ODS political platform Vladimir Holzknecht. Holzknecht said that since last Monday, some 200 people had turned to him for information regarding party membership. According to Holzknecht, mostly small and medium entrepreneurs are interested in the new party, as well as intellectuals, who had recently returned to the Czech republic from abroad and had had a chance to see the Czech political scene from the outside. The coordinator added that there was considerable interest in attending a meeting of the signatories in Litomysl, where the new party is to be officially established.

New parties - cooperation

The preparatory committee of another new right-wing party, the Party of Conservative Agreement, will make the text of its political statement public within two weeks, member of the committee, Stanislav Novotny, told the CTK news agency on Wednesday. However, Novotny refused to specify the content of Tuesday's meeting of the committee members with Jan Ruml, the main representative of the Freedom Union, which is to come into existence on Saturday. The preparatory committee has so far had talks with all who have expressed interest in joining the party, mostly from the ODA right-wing faction, the Right-wing Block and the Democratic Union. According to the CTK news-agency the Party of Conservative Agreement could merge with the Freedom Union and form one right-wing party.

Parliament - NATO

According to the chairman of Parliament's Defence and security committee Petr Necas, it is vital that the Czech republic's admission to NATO be ratified by the House of Deputies now. He added that it is possible that after the elections, and a possible victory of the Social democrats, radical tendencies might prevail, including efforts to push through a nation-wide referendum on the issue. Although the Social democrats, too, support our republic's membership in NATO, they condition it by a referendum, while they would recommend to their supporters to vote "yes".

Daley in Prague

The United States intends to deepen its economic and trade relations with the countries of Central and Southern Europe, according to US Trade Secretary William Daley, who starts an official visit in the Czech republic on Thursday. In his statement Daley said that "to increase trade and investments supports not only the development, but also helps to strengthen the roots of democracy and economic reforms." In Prague, William Daley will attend - as the head of the US delegation - the 5th Conference of ministers of trade, industry and economy, East - West of the G 7 countries, as well as countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Mr. Daley is accompanied by a delegation of 25 big American entrepreneurs' groups, specialists in energy, infrastructure and environment.

Weather

And finally a look at today's weather: It will be cloudy to overcast in the Czech republic today, with occasional drizzles and afternoon highs between 5 and 7 degrees Celsius.