News Tuesday, FEBRUARY 09th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines and now the news in full, read by Libor Kubik.


Czech President Vaclav Havel on Tuesday meets top legislators of all parliamentary parties except for the Communists.

The president has long insisted that he will never consult their unreformed party on matters of national significance. He maintains that the Communists have yet to renounce their pre-Velvet Revolution, totalitarian past.

The main opposition Civic Democrats of ex-premier Vaclav Klaus have indicated they may not attend the meeting of parliamentary parties' leaders with the president.

The former ruling party said Czech problems should be solved using standard political mechanisms rather than by means of one-off meetings.


Police in the Slovak capital Bratislava have begun to investigate into last month's incident between former prime minister Vladimir Meciar and Czech Prima Television's correspondent Vladimir Misauer.

The incident on January 15, in which the Czech reporter was physically assaulted, occurred during the funeral of the former Slovak economics minister Jan Ducky, who was shot dead in Bratislava a few days earlier.

In the incident, ex-premier Meciar was shown on TV shots attacking the Czech journalists. Meciar's formerly ruling party said the skirmish had been provoked by journalists. Meciar's sympathizers then chased the journalist community covering the funeral ceremony.


Moslems in the Czech Republic say they will honour the memory of Jordan's King Hussein during Friday's prayers in their grand mosque in Brno.

The country's Moslem leader Mohammad Ali Silhavy said on Monday they were sending a letter of condolences to the Jordanian embassy in Vienna, which attends to Czech interests in Jordan

Between 50 and 70 Moslems meet at Friday prayers in Brno every week.

King Hussein, who died on Sunday of cancer, was laid to rest on Monday with full military honours in a dignified funeral attended by scores of world leaders and heads of state.

The Czech Republic was represented by President Vaclav Havel.


United States Defence Secretary William Cohen said on Monday absorbing NATO's three incoming members would take time and it was unclear when a second wave of the former East Bloc states would be admitted to the alliance.

The 16-member North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is due to admit the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in its first post-Cold War expansion this spring. NATO applicants had to first prove they measured up to Alliance standards and could contribute to collective defence.

Cohen said on a visit to Germany there should be no exclusion of a country based on geography.


Unemployment in the Czech Republic exceeded the psychological eight-percent mark for the first time last month, according to data released by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on Monday.

The ministry said this was a half-percent increase on December.

January's unemployment stood at 8.1 percent, compared to 5.6 percent one year ago. At the end of the month, there were more than 400,000 registered job seekers in this country -- an increase by 30,000 on December. The Czech Republic has a population of just over 10 million.


Almost half of the population feel the situation in the Czech Republic is critical. But only slightly over 20 percent of those polled in a recent survey want the crisis to be solved by early parliamentary elections.

This follows from a poll conducted last month by the Prague-based STEM agency. Its outcomes were released on Monday.


Only one Czech in five agrees that foreign nationals should land jobs in this country as it prepares to join the European Union.

Conversely, 45 percent of those polled by the state-funded IVVM agency believe that it is unnecessary to employ foreigners in the Czech Republic.

More than one third of the respondents had no opinion when asked in January's survey.


The Canadian embassy in Prague said on Monday it had no signals that Canada would drop the visa requirement in the near future for travellers from the Czech Republic.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said on Friday it was untenable in the longer perspective for Czechs having to apply for visas when visiting Canada, and that country's nationals not having to.

Canada reimposed the visa requirement on Czech citizens two years ago in an effort to stem the flow of ethnic Roma asylum seekers from the Czech Republic.


The Czech Ministry of Agriculture said on Monday it would reserve the right to retaliate to the subsidised pork exports from the European Union unless the flow continues.

The ministry said the export of subsidised pork was having a devastating impact on Czech pig breeders and it was prepared to take protectionist measures.


The eight-month-old marriage between the Czech first lady's daughter Nina and Israeli musician Shalev Ad-El is falling apart and the couple are seeking a divorce.

The first lady's secretary Milos Ryc said on Monday that the Havels wish the media out of the affair and would not elaborate.

Nina Veskrnova and Shalev Ad-El -- a prominent harpsichordist and conductor -- were married last June in a private ceremony outside Prague.


The Czech government has endorsed a parliamentary initiative seeking to raise the legal age for buying tobacco products from public retailers to 18 years.

Until now, youngsters over 16 were legally able to buy tobacco.

But the cabinet failed to say on Monday how the customers' age should be ascertained.


Tennis -- and Petr Korda hit out on Monday at the Czech Tennis Federation's decision to ban him from playing in or for his home country.

After beating Alberto Martin of Spain 6-3 6-4 in the first round of the Dubai Open, he said he could not understand why the Czech federation had done such thing.

The Federation banned Korda on Friday pending further investigation of his positive dope test at last year's Wimbledon championships.


Finally, the weather. The Czech Republic has been grappling with a snow calamity, with many roads effectively unusable and some localities cut off.

On Tuesday, we expect more snow showers across the whole territory, nighttime temperatures between three and seven Celsius below freezing, and daytime highs from four below and freezing point.

The intrusion of the cold northwestern air will continue on Wednesday, bringing the night temperatures down to six to 10 degrees below zero. Daytime highs between one and five Celsius below zero.

I am Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.