News Tuesday, MARCH 17th, 1998

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Radio Prague E news Date: March 17th,1998 Written / read by: Alena Skodova

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm AS, and we begin with the headlines:

Those were the main points and now the news in detail:

UN Commission for Human Rights - Havel

Czech president Vaclav Havel has addressed a session of the UN Commission for Human rights, organized in Geneva to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the General Declaration on Human Rights. "I was asked to make an opening speech as my life has been linked a bit with the struggle for human rights, and also because the Czech chairmanship of the Commission for human rights is ending," president Havel told newsmen before his departure from Prague. In Geneva, he met with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The two men expressed their common support for efforts to reform the United Nations. Havel also highly praised Annan's recent peace mission in Iraq, and informed him that the Czech Republic would soon be admitted to NATO. Annan voiced appreciation for the participation of Czech soldiers in United Nations' peace missions.

The Czech Republic - EU

Preparations for negotiations on the Czech Republic's admission to the European Union, harmonization of laws, trade exchange and other themes are on the agenda of the 7th session of the joint parliamentary committee for the Czech republic's accession to the European Union, which is in session in Prague from Monday till Wednesday. Chairman of the Czech senatorial part of the Committee, Ludek Zahradnicek, told the CTK news agency that the committee would probably discuss the controversial matter of import quotas introduced by the Czech republic on EU apples. The theme is to be tackled on Tuesday by Czech Agriculture minister Josef Lux. Industry minister Karel Kuhnl will talk about our trade exchange with EU countries and Education minister Jan Sokol will discuss mutual cooperation in science and research. The committee last met in October 1997 in Brussels.

Greek premier in Prague

After a meeting with his Czech counterpart Josef Tosovsky, and Foreign minister Jaroslav Sedivy, Greek premier Kostas Simitis, who has been in the Czech Republic on a four-day official visit, spoke in favour of as big an expansion of the European Union as possible. "We support the Czech Republic's admission to the European Union, and expanding the Union as much as possible," Simitis told a press conference in Prague, adding that the level of Greek-Czech relations was very good and its further development most desirable. Simitis noted that the Czech Republic would have to solve the same problems as Greece had to, because both are small countries. The Greek premier also said that the EU should - besides trade and economic problems - also concentrate on its members' foreign policies so that a common EU foreign policy could become a reality. At the end of his visit, Mr.Simities was received by president Vaclav Havel.

Sedivy to Austria

Czech Foreign minister Jaroslav Sedivy leaves on Tuesday for Vienna to return his counterpart Wolfgang Schussel's visit in the Czech republic last year. On Wednesday, Sedivy and Schussel will discuss European security, mutual relations and the expansion of the European Union, who will be chaired by Austria as of next summer. The Czech Foreign minister will also deliver a speech at a conference entitled The Future of Central Europe, which will be opened on Wednesday by Austrian president Thomas Klestil. Austria is our the second most important trade partner among countries of the European union, which it entered in 1995.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather: we expect a cloudy sky today, with rain and snow showers in the mountains, and the afternoon highs between 8 and 10 degrees Celsius.