News Tuesday, JANUARY 20th, 1998

Message of the Day

A hundred years ago today the Czech scientist and astronomer, Josef Jan Fric bought a piece of land in the little town of Ondrejov in order to build an observatory. In 1928 he handed it over to the state, and to this day the famous Ondrejov observatory fulfils its function

Radio Prague E-news Date: 20-21.1.1998 Written/read by: David Vaughan

Hello and a warm welcome to Radio Prague. I'm David Vaughan. First the headlines.


President Havel has been reelected for a second term as Czech President,

ex-Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party has been dealt a further blow by the departure of former Foreign Minister, Josef Zieleniec,

and the Austrian Green Party has said it has new hopes of stopping the completion of the Czech Republic's controversial Temelin nuclear power plant.

And now the news in more detail.

Presidential Election

At their first ever joint session the two houses of the Czech Parliament have reelected President Vaclav Havel for a second five-year term of office. In the first round of voting he came short of winning an overall majority from both houses, despite coming way ahead of the other two candidates, the Communist, Stanislav Fischer, and the leader of the far-right Republicans, Miroslav Sladek. Neither of the other candidates won enough votes to go through to the second round, and as a result Mr Havel required a straight majority of those present from both houses in order to be reelected. In the end he scraped through by one vote in the lower house, with the votes of 99 of the 197 deputies present, and 47 of the 81 Senators. After the result was announced the deputy leader of the extreme right-wing Republican Party, Jan Vik, said that his party did not respect the result, because the party leader Miroslav Sladek was not allowed to vote. Mr Sladek is currently in police custody, and shortly before voting began the assembly voted not to allow him to take part. Jan Vik said that he would take his party's objections to the constitutional court.

Further Step by New Party

The Freedom Union, the new party set up by rebels from ex- Prime Minister Klaus's Civic Democratic Party, has appointed former Interior Minister Jan Ruml to head its parliamentary party, made up of twenty-eight deputies who defected from the Civic Democrats. Mr Ruml said that the Freedom Union hopes to be able to take part in Thursday's multi-party meeting with President Havel, to discuss the conditions under which the new government could win next week's vote of confidence. President Havel's spokesman, Ladislav Spacek, said that the new party will be invited as long as it manages to complete its registration as a political party in time for the meeting.

More Leave Klaus Party

On Tuesday the Defence Minister, Michal Lobkowicz, officially announced his resignation from the Civic Democratic Party, making him the last of the four former party members in the new government to do so. In a further blow to Mr Klaus's party, the former Foreign Minister, Josef Zieleniec, has said that he too has left the Civic Demcorats. He told the CTK press agency that the only people who now remain in the party are those who believe that lies and financial corruption are legitimate political tools.

NATO Representative in Prague

The deputy chief commander of NATO forces in Europe, General Jeremy Mackenzie, has ended a three-day visit to the Czech Republic, during which he discussed the country's progress towards NATO membership. The head of the defence and security committee of the Czech lower house, Petr Necas, said he had assured General Mackenzie that early elections are very unlikely to result in any lessening of the Czech Republic's commitment to joining the Alliance. Mr Necas also said that the Czech Republic is committed to continuing its active role in peacekeeping in the former Yugoslavia, and plans to keep at least one division in Bosnia, as part of the multi-national force. / General Mackenzie welcomed these assurances and thanked the Defence Minister, Michal Lobkowicz for the Czech Republic's contribution in the former Yugoslavia.

Nuclear Power Plant

A prominent figure in the Austrian Green Party, Rudi Anschober, has said that the fall of Vaclav Klaus's government in the Czech Republic has brought with it a real chance of stopping the completion of the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia. He said that Temelin's strongest supporters are no longer in power, and that this fact, combined with growing financial problems linked to its completion, now mean that there is more than a fifty-fifty chance that the project will be abandoned.


And finally a look at the weather...

Tomorrow will be a cold day with snow showers coming in from the north-east, and temperatures between zero and four degrees Celsius. And we can expect the colder to stay with us for the next few days.

And that's the end of the news. Radio Prague E-News Date: January 20, 1998 Written/read by: Vladimir Tax

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Presidential elections/candidates

The Czech parliament is to elect a new president on Tuesday at a joint session of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. Election committees of both houses of the parliament announced on Monday that there are three official candidates for the post.

Apart from the current Czech president Vaclav Havel, who enjoys support from the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, the Civic Democratic Alliance, the Freedom Union and part of the Civic Democratic Party, there is a communist candidate, astrophysicist Stanislav Fischer, and far-right Republican leader Miroslav Sladek who will not be present at the parliamentary session because the court will not release him from detention. Sladek asked for a temporary release from detention for the presidential election but a judge at the Prague court which deals with the Sladek case told CTK on Monday that there is no reason why the Republican leader should have any advantages to the rest of Czech citizens and stressed there is no such device in Czech law as temporary release from detention.

Sladek has been charged with spreading racial and national hatred last January. He kept avoiding court hearings and was therefore put in detention. The trial is to take place on Friday.

Tosovsky warns he may resign

Caretaker Prime Minister Josef Tosovsky warned that he would consider resigning if political parties did not stop bickering over how to get to early elections.

The threat comes before a confidence motion next week on the interim government, the CTK news agency reported after a meeting between Tosovsky and chairmen of the parliamentary parties on Monday.

The major parties in parliament have agreed in principle to seek early general elections, most likely in June, but the method by which to force the new polls has been in dispute.

Meanwhile, the parties which are key to Tosovsky's cabinet winning a confidence vote next week have been pushing conflicting demands on the government's political programme as a price for their support.

Tosovsky told a joint news conference after meeting leaders of the parties in parliament on Monday that he was disappointed by the position of some parties, meaning the Civic Democratic Party of Vaclav Klaus which keeps changing attitudes to the cabinet and the early elections. Tosovsky said he had accepted the office of prime minister to end the country's political crisis but said that the crisis is continuing, adding that should important political forces in Prague have no interest in ending the crisis there would be no point in remaining in office.

Tosovsky said that his government had done everything it could to ensure that early general elections could take place in June, as had been agreed by political representatives, but the process was being dragged down by inter-party bickering.

Nomura deal for Czech bank IPB still open

Talks on the sale of a 36 percent stake in the Czech bank Investicni a Postovni to the Japanese banking house Nomura have been postponed. However, there is a will on both sides to conclude the deal.

Czech Finance Minister Ivan Pilip said on Monday there were two alternatives of the final structure of the sale which must be discussed by both sides. He told reporters the National Property Fund would seek to conclude talks on the two alternatives by the end of January.

Pilip said that Nomura was demanding better conditions than the Czech government offered last summer due to the decline of the Czech currency, the Asian economic crisis, and less political stability in the Czech Republic.

He said in case one or the other side fails to give the final approval, there is a solution ready which would secure the stability and development of the bank from the Czech side.

Firm starts probe of former Czech PM's party

The Prague branch of the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche said on Monday it had begun a "forensic investigation" into financing activities of former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS).

D&T's director in the Czech Republic, Otto Jelinek, said in a statement that the objective of such an investigation, as opposed to a traditional audit, is to reveal and identify potential fraud.

The Civic Democratic Party is currently being investigated by Czech police about possible connections to bank accounts abroad containing substantial funds.

Jelinek said the company would be looking at the "compliance of ODS sponsoring" with Czech law, adding that the probe would be a "fully transparent, independent, objective, and professional analysis of ODS funding" and a final report would be expected to be made public by the end of April.

Czech weather report

And finally, a quick look at the weather. We are expecting a partially cloudy day with scattered showers, afternoon highs should range from 1 to 5 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.