News Tuesday, MAY 26th, 1998

Radio Prague E-news date: May 26th, 1998 written/read by: Daniela Lazarova

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

TUs say NO to rent-hikes

The association of Czech and Moravian trade unions has demanded a slash in the planned rent hikes which are to go into effect July 1st of this year. The deregulation of rents has been set at 27% , trade unions are insisting a 13% increase should be the limit. It is moreover planning to ask the post-election government to introduce a moratorium on rent-deregulation until the whole system of price deregulation has been re-evalued. The trade union demand comes in the wake of a Parliament resolution criticising the government's handling of privatizations and housing and energy price deregulations. Cabinet is to debate the matter at its next session.

EU integration talks

EU Commissioner Hans van der Pas has been meeting with Czech top officials in Prague, discussing progress in accession talks with the EU. The Czech Republic is now undergoing a screening process, basically a comparison of Czech and EU legislative norms, which is to highlight potential problem areas. So far the process has been fairly problem free - but according to the head of the Czech-EU integration team Pavel Telicka the two sides should get down to the nitty-gritty before the end of this year.

Meanwhile, a delegation of Czech Catholic Church dignitaries is currently visiting EU and NATO headquarters in Brussels. A spokesman for the Catholic Church said the aim of the visit was to find out how the Church could assist the process of integration. Integration is not just a political and economic process, he said, there is also a spiritual dimension.

Klaus welcomes right-wing victory in Hungary

ODS leader Vaclav Klaus has welcomed the victory of right wing forces in the Hungarian general elections. "We are pleased that Hungary is one more country where the social democrats were beaten" ex-premier Klaus told newsmen adding that the victory of the Fidesz Party presented a motivation for his own party to do well in the upcoming general elections. The centre right Fidesz Party led by Viktor Orban won 148 of the 386 seats in Parliament. The Socialists led by prime minister Gyula Horn, a former communist, won 134 seats.

In the Czech Republic it is the Social Democrats who are poised to win the upcoming general elections, but popularity ratings suggest they will not have enough support to form a majority.

Zeman denies being "counter-reform"

Meanwhile, opposition Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman has sharply rejected accusations that his party is counter-reform and a threat to the post-revolution democratic development of the Czech Republic. The accusations were made by his long-time arch rival ex-premier Vaclav Klaus, who told Czechs they could " vote for his ODS or turn back the clock".

Milos Zeman said Monday Klaus' accusations were absurd. " We are the only social democratic party in Central Europe which is not a party of reformed or post communists" Zeman said.

Who for Premier?

A full third of Czechs have no idea who they would like to see as their future premier. According to the latest survey 13% Czechs would like interim prime minister Josef Tosovsky to fill that post, 10% respondents favoured Milos Zeman, the leader of the opposition Social Democrats, while 9% said they wanted Vaclav Klaus back as head of Cabinet. Among those with a lesser degree of support is the famous Czech goaltender Dominik Hasek.

Police inspector attacked

The ctk newsagency reports on the latest in a series of racist incidents to take place in this country. The police inspector of Liberec was accosted by five Romanies on his way to work Sunday and brutally beaten up. The Romanies reportedly set upon him with cries of "you white swine" knocked him to the ground, and continued to kick and punch him where he lay. The inspector reportedly has head injuries which will not allow him to return to work for at least a fortnight. An investigation is underway.

Finally, a look at the weather :

although skies are expected to remain partly cloudy to overcast, with occasional light rainshowers, the weather should gradually grow warmer. Tuesday's day temps are forecast at between 18 and 22 degs C. Wednesdays at between 22 and 24 degs.