News Tuesday, JULY 07th, 1998

Radio Prague E-news date: July 7th, 1998

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm DL and we begin as usual with a look at the main newsstories this hour

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail

Jan Hus -commemorative

The Hussite Church on Monday led commemorative ceremonies marking 583 years since reformist Catholic clergyman Jan Hus was burnt at the stake for heresy. The verdict was passed by a Catholic consilium in Constantia when Hus steadfastedly refused to reject his criticism of the Catholic clergy for its materialistic lifestyle and failure to adhere by its own preaching. Hus' execution by fire plunged the country into years of religious wars and controversy but his teaching lived on, influencing Czechs for centuries to come. The Czechoslovak Hussite Church was established in 1920. In this day of religious tolerance and moderation the Jan Hus celebrations are attended by Catholic dignitaries as well as non-Catholic Christian churches. The day is a national holiday in the Czech Republic.

Smaller parties reconsider

Political negotiations on the formation of a new Czech government continue. In an effort to prevent a left wing minority government tolerated by the ODS, two smaller parties on the Czech political scene - the right wing Freedom Union and the Christian Democrats have said they would be prepared to support a minority ODS government instead. The decision was made during emergency consultations at which the two parties planned a strategy to try and break up an emerging toleration agreement between the right-wing ODS and the left wing Social Democrats. The two long-time arch-rivals created a stir not only by this unprecedented show of cooperation but by planning to change the country's electoral system from proportional to majority at the earliest opportunity.

Klaus on coalition

Meanwhile, ODS leader Vaclav Klaus has sharply rejected accusations by the Freedom Union that his party had thwarted possible right-of- centre coalition talks, not least because of personal animosity towards former allies. "I would strongly advise the Freedom Union to stick to the truth, Klaus told reporters. Our conditions for a right- of-centre coalition were voiced some time ago. The silence has been on their side" the ex-premier said of his former cabinet colleagues.

Schussel in Prague

Austrian foreign minister Wolfgang Schussel is due to hold talks on EU expansion in Prague today. Austria, which recently took up the EU presidency is pressing for early political negotiations with the six front runners, although foreign ministry sources say it will be making no concessions. We aim to be "brutally frank" in highlighting individual inadequacies -a foreign ministry spokesman told the media - but for those who meet requirements there should be no procrastination. Austria has allegedly met with opposition by EU members who would prefer a slow and very selective expansion process.

EU expansion

In a related development, EU commissioner for East European expansion Klaus van der Pas has praised Poland's approach in setting its own time frame in which to meet the Union's admission requirements, recommending the same strategy to other candidates. Drawing up a time frame requires planning and motivation, both important factors in the process of joining the EU, van der Pas said. The EU is not willing to name an admission date for any country since it might raise political expectations even if adequate progress was not being made, the EU official pointed out, but it will be happy to see the candidates set their own deadlines and try to meet them. Poland has set its deadline for the year 2003.

Karlovy Vary Festival

The Karlovy Vary Film Festival is now in full swing, and the rainy weather has done little to spoil the show. Monday's audiences took their pick from 56 entries screened that day, among them The Secret of Defense , a Swiss-Italian production directed by Jacques Rivette and Rivers of Babylon, a Slovak production directed by Vlado Balco, which deals with an individual's head-spinning ascent to power. The festival will continue throughout the week, ending on July 11th.

From briefly from the world of sport - Czech fans went wild on Saturday as they watched Jana Novotna clinch her first grand slam title at Wimbledon, after a nerve racking victory over France's Nathalie Tauziat. The number three seed dropped to her knees and cried before climbing up into the players' box to embrace her mother Liba and coach Hana Mandlikova while the Centre Court crowd gave her a standing ovation. " This is something I have been working for many, many years -this is definitely a dream come true" the 29 year old Czech told newsmen later. Needless to say its also a dream come true for her many fans in this country. Monday's paper came out headlined "BRAVO JANA! Third time lucky, after all..."

And finally, a look at the weather, which is most unfortunate for this time of the year -and I pity anyone who is currently holidaying in the Czech Republic...I'm afraid the forecast is not good, overcast skies and rain appear to be a fixture. Day temps on Tuesday between 17 and 21 degs. On Wednesday and Thursday they will drop even lower to between 15 and 19 degs C.