News Tuesday, JULY 28th, 1998

Radio Prague E News Written / Read by: Pauline Newman Date: 28.7.98

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Pauline Newman, first let's take a look at the main headlines of the day:

You are tuned to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines, now let's take a look at the news in full:

Havel / Health

Doctors say Czech President Vaclav Havel has suffered a minor setback after his operation at the end of last week. They announced on Monday evening that Havel's left bronchus had been blocked in the morning, which means that the President will have to spend an extra four days in hospital. One of Havel's doctors said that great care will be needed when taking the President off his breathing machine. He added that not all Havel's laboratory tests were as they should be, but declined to give any details. Surgeons speaking to journalists for the first time on Monday afternoon expressed caution, but said they were optimistic. Other than that, President Havel is said to be stable and in good condition after his second abdominal operation in three months.

Austrian President Thomas Klestil sent Vaclav Havel a telegram on Monday, wishing his Czech counterpart a speedy recovery following Sunday's operation. After speaking to Havel's Austrian doctor Ernst Bodner on Monday morning, Klestil praised the work carried out by the Czech - Austrian team of doctors. He emphasized that this is a worthy example of co-operation between the two countries.

Soldiers / Floods

Soldiers were mobilised to help flood hit areas in the east of the Czech Republic on Monday. This came as several districts braced themselves for more heavy rain. 525 soldiers were called into action after the Czech metereological office forecast over five centimetres of rain in the area. Six people were reported to have been killed in flooding in the region last week. Extensive flooding killed over 100 people last summer in the region and in southern Poland. The trade Union of Teachers is also helping members whose lives have been affected by the recent floods. Several people died last week in Eastern Bohemia, when rivers burst their banks after torrential rains. The Union is handing out the same amount as it did during last year's catastrophic flooding - 20 000 crowns. A spokeswoman said the money comes from Union funds and organisations in Germany, France and Sweden.

Analysts / Government

Economists said on Monday that the new Czech government is likely to take a prudent stance by producing budgets close to balance, as it faces an uphill struggle to stay in power a full four years. Analysts say the agreement which gives former Premier and ODS Chairman Vaclav Klaus the political power to decide the fate of his rival and new Premier Milos Zeman, means the cabinet will not last long. An analyst at Deutsche Morgan Grenfell estimated that the Social democrats will try to present a balanced budget, or one with a relatively small deficit. He said he didn't expect the government to last for four years and questioned whether it would be able to continue structural reforms of the Czech economy.

In a report last week, Merrill Lynch forecast a life expectancy for the Zeman government of about two years. The report commented that Zeman's term for his cabinet "Suicide mission" was fairly accurate. According to Merrill Lynch: "Once the ODS feels it has regained its strength, then it will initiate a vote of no-confidence in the new cabinet".

Defence / Vetchy

Defence Minister Vladimir Vetchy has not ruled out the possibility of changes being made to the latest planned reforms within the armed forces. A spokesman said on Monday that Mr Vetchy will most likely want to meet with his predecessor Michal Lobkowicz for discussions on certain aspects of the reforms. Although the Ministry has declined to mention which documents need discussing, it is thought that staff cuts and NATO membership are among the key areas.

At the end of June, Michal Lobkowicz presented the Czech State Security Council with his plans concentrating on defence and army strategies until the year 2008. These documents involved material on NATO membership. In order to pass this through Parliament still as part of the work carried out by Josef Tosovsky's government, President Vaclav Havel gave it his approval.

And we end as usual with a quick look at the weather:

Tuesday will see a cloudy start to the day, with skies clearing up in the late afternoon. Temperatures will remain high, peaking at about 25 degrees celsius, which means we are in for another clammy day. The possibility of scattered showers or thunderstorms in the evening, means it will be cooler during the night however, with temperatures dropping to as low as 15 degrees celsius.

I'm Pauline Newman and that's the end of the news.