News Thursday, MARCH 05th, 1998

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

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

NATO - Solana

NATO General Secretary Javier Solana arrived in Prague on Wednesday for a two day official visit. At a press conference held after Solana's meeting with premier Josef Tosovsky, Solana expressed satisfaction with the Czech republic's preparedness for its admission to NATO. "We are pleased and satisfied that you meet our requirements," Solana told newsmen. He also appreciated as "very good" the degree of inter-operability of the Czech army and NATO. Javier Solana again confirmed that NATO does not intend to deploy nuclear weapons on the new NATO countries' territories. In the evening, Mr. Solana was received by president Vaclav Havel, who awarded him the highest Czech state distinction, the Order of the White Lion. Havel expressed the hope that the House of Deputies would approve the Czech republic's accession to NATO already in April, and that the Senate would do the same shortly after.

Government session

At its regular Wednesday session, the Czech goverment discussed the privatization of the Investment and Post Bank, the pace of restructuring the bed fund in hospitals and the de-regulation of prices of rents and utilities - electricity and gas. The cabinet decided to sell the state's 36 percent share in the Investment and Post bank to the Japanese bank Nomura for 3.031 billion crowns. The cabinet cut short its negotiations on rents and utilities, because it wanted to discuss the matter at tripartite talks with employers and trade unions.

Romany document

The leadership of the Romany Civic Association has called on both Romanies and the white Czech majority to abstain from provocations which could lead to an escalation of tension. The document, called "Appeal for Non Violence" was handed over to the CTK news agency on Wednesday by the association's spokesman Ondrej Gina. According to the document, each manifestation of violence on the part of Romanies will turn against them, because the public will be afraid of "reverse racism". Czech people, too, should avoid provocations, because with the present tense situation between the two communities a small incident might be enough to cause a big conflict. Politicians should not understimate the present feelings on both sides, and deal with the situation as responsibly as possible, says the document.

German compesnsation to Nazi victims

The administrative council of the Czech-German Future fund at its session in Bonn has approved unanimously a project of a "speedy and non-bureaucratic" aid to the Czech victims of Nazism. The project should enable the Czech victims to receive the first financial contribution in a relatively short period, possibly this month. Both delegations expressed their satisfaction with the course and result of their negotiations, which should - according to their opinion - substantially contribute to further improvement of Czech-German relations. The present chairman of the council, Anton Rossbach, who had been the German ambassador to the Czech republic, stated that the intensive discussion was conducted in an "exceptionally good atmosphere" and led to a "brave decision".

Freedom Union - NATO

The Freedom Union has insisted that the Czech republic's accession to the North Atlantic alliance be discussed by the standing House of Deputies. They'll be in power till June this year, when new parliamentary elections will be held. The Freedom Union's deputy chairman Vaclav Krasa told this to the CTK news agency on Wednesday. "We do not intend to change this standpoint, there's nothing to be discussed," said Krasa in response to a statement by chairman of the Social democrat parliamentary club, Stanislav Gross, who said on Tuesday that his party would attempt to convince its partners that the accession discussion should be conducted by the new House of deputies.


And finally a quick look at today's weather: It will be cloudy in the Czech republic today, with occasional rain showers especially in the North of the country, and with afternoon highs between 5 and 9 degrees Celsius.