News Tuesday, JUNE 16th, 1998

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Radio Prague E News Written / Read by: Pauline Newman Date: 16.6.98

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...

Klaus / Partnership

Former Czech Premier and current Chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, Vaclav Klaus said on Monday that if he is to defeat the opposition leftist Social Democrats in the elections, he will need the help of the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union.

He said: "It will be impossible not to work with these parties and whatever happened between us in the past, is history". Klaus added that unfortunately, these two parties have not yet realised this and are still adamant that they would not form a coalition with the Civic democratic Party.

The animosity between Klaus and the two parties is well known. It is widely thought that Christian Democrat leader Josef Lux brought Klaus's government down last year and Freedom Union Chairman Jan Ruml, broke away from the ODS last year, forming this new party of his own with several others.

EU Expansion / Delay

The President of the European Parliament warned on Monday that the Union's planned enlargement could be delayed because of the need to reform its institutions and budget. He said it would be unlikely that the first accessions of new member states would be concluded before the end of the next Parliamentary term.

Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia and the divided Island of Cyprus are among the front runners for membership.

In the meantime, the European Commission has begun the process of naming the members of seventeen international specialist groups, which will help institute the European Union's scientific programmes. Czech experts are expected to be in the teams.

Each group will consist of 15 to 20 specialists, industrialists and other experts who will advise the European Union on various issues such as health care, benefits for pensioners, town planning, and energy. A commission spokesman said the groups should start working this July.

Havel / Broadcasts

Czech President Vaclav Havel is set to appear once on television and once on the radio today, addressing the Czech people before the elections later this week.

Mr Havel has said several times in the election run up, that people must avoid voting for extremist parties and being blinded by superficial campaigns.

On the 18th May, the President began a series of informal meetings with politicians at his chateau outside Prague. These have focused among other things, on the Czech entry to NATO and Czech - Romany relations.

Today, he is set to meet Interior Minister Cyril Svoboda, with whom he will discuss public administration and planned reforms to this sector.

Social Democrats / Unions

Deputy Chairman of the opposition Social Democrats Vladimir Spidla said on Monday, that if his party wins the elections at the end of this week, negotiations must start with the Trade Unions as soon as possible.

Spidla spoke of the growing conflict concerning the wages of workers and civil servants. He said that the next government will have to find a negotiator who will be able to come up with a solution to the problem by the end of the year.

The Social Democrats are expected to gain the greatest number of votes in the elections and have often stated their support for the Trade Unions, which are demanding a twenty percent pay rise.

Spidla's words come after party leader Milos Zeman said on Sunday that although workers will get a pay increase it will be within certain financial limits and not before January 1st of next year.

The Trade Unions staged a one hour strike on the eighth of June and say they intend to continue protest action after the elections, until their demands are met.

Cerbak / Resignation

Miroslav Cerbak, head of the team of doctors looking after Czech President Vaclav Havel has resigned from his post as deputy Health Minister.

When asked why he decided to resign, Cerbak said on Monday, that first and foremost, he is a doctor and not an office worker.

He also said that although he wants to return to his original place of work, which is a hospital in a town north of Prague, he has to examine Vaclav Havel at the end of next month and will stay if he can continue to be of use to the President.

Prague Spring / Paris

A two day conference on the Prague Spring begins on Tuesday in Paris. Chairman of the Czech Senate Petr Pithart will be among the historians, philosophers and politicians attending.

The event will look at the background to the Prague Spring of 1968, the international reaction and its links with the Velvet Revolution of 1989.

The Prague Spring, was the brief period of liberalisation under Czechoslovak Communist leader Alexander Dubcek. Unfortunately, the little state pushed too hard for greater freedom under Moscow's gaze and Soviet tanks soon rolled in, crushing the optimism.

Jan Kavan, a student leader in 1968, has said that he sees clear links between what was attempted 30 years ago and what finally succeeded in 1989. He believes the motivation and the main desires behind it were identical.

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

Tuesday's weather will be slightly cooler, with overcast, cloudy skies. Temperatures will range from 19 to 23 degrees celsius, making it quite a muggy and heavy day, bringing with it the possibility of some rain towards the evening. It will become chillier overnight, because temperatures are set to fall to as low as 8 degrees celsius.

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