News Tuesday, MARCH 02th, 1999

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

Those are the main points and now for the news in more detail.

President Havel Visits France

Czech President Vaclav Havel leaves for an official visit to France this afternoon. Besides Czech-French bilateral relations, the visit is aimed at the aspects of EU enlargement as well as attracting French investors to the Czech Republic. Havel is to meet with his French counterpart Jacques Chirac, premier Lionel Jospin and other high-ranking officials. France is considered one of the motors of European integration and pushes for institutional reforms before enlargement.

No replacement for Grulich (yet)

The ruling Social Democrats refuse to look for a replacement for ailing interior minister Vaclav Grulich. Cabinet ministers argue that the 66-year-old minister has been in hospital for only a few days. They believe that it would be unethical and immoral to look for a new candidate to fill the post.

Havel may have prepared a statement beforehand - Langer

Deputy leader of the senior opposition Civic Democratic Party Ivan Langer, has suggested that President Havel and the leaders of the mainstream political parties may have already prepared a statement about the need to form a majority government, prior to their planned meeting on Saturday. Langer said on private radio Frekvence 1 that the Civic Democrats would not attend the meeting summoned by the president because they doubted it makes sense.

CEZ allegedly sponsored Conservative Youth

The monopoly energy producer CEZ allegedly sponsored the Young Conservatives, an association close to the former ruling Civic Democratic Party. Czech public TV reported that CEZ, which is partially owned by the state, has provided a donation of almost 300,000 CZK to the Young Conservatives. Chairman of the association, David Ryc said the money had been used to finance a seminar on the Czech Republic's accession to the EU as well as the publications of its periodical Right Angle. However, CEZ spokesman Ladislav Kriz denied any such activities.

High NATO official arrives in Prague

Commander of the Allied Land Forces in Central Europe Klaus Reinhardt arrived in Prague today for a two-day official visit. Ten days before the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary become NATO members he is going to discuss the tasks for Czech Republic stemming from its membership in the Alliance.

U.S. Rabbi joins Czech Holocaust commission

Rabbi Andrew Baker has become a member of the Czech government commission which deals with Jewish property restitutions, Barker is director of the Bureau for European Affairs of the American Jewish Committee. The government has set up the mixed commission in order to settle property claims arising from the World War Two Holocaust on the Czech territory. The commission is supposed to prepare a complete list of property rights of the Holocaust victims and draft legislation on restitutions to individuals. The Israeli government and world Jewish organisations have promised the Czech Republic assistance in its negotiations with Germany in this respect.

Czech weather report

And finally, a quick look at the weather. We're expecting a relatively warm but cloudy day with scattered showers. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 6 to 10 degrees Celsius. And a brief outlook for Wednesday and Thursday: it should be much the same as Tuesday, cloudy to overcast with occasional showers, with afternoon highs between 7 and 11 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.