News Wednesday, APRIL 29th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-News Date: April 29, 1998 Written/read by: Vladimir Tax

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and as usual, we begin with a brief newsbulletin. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Tosovsky in Brussels

Czech premier Josef Tosovsky arrived in Brussels on Tuesday for talks with European Commission and NATO representatives. First he met with NATO secretary general Javier Solana and informed him about the accession ratification process in the Czech parliament and preparation of legislation necessary for membership in the Alliance. Head of the Czech mission to NATO Karel Kovanda told CTK that Solana and Tosovsky did not talk about military issues but that they discussed possible ways to speed up the Czech Republic's entry into NATO.

Next on premier Tosovsky's agenda was a meeting with European Commission chairman Jacques Santer and European Parliament Chairman Jose Maria Gil-Robles.

Tosovsky said after the meeting that the Czech Republic was trying to work less noisily but more efficiently now, and added that in his opinion, the European Commission was starting to recognise it.

When analysing macroeconomic procedures together with premier Tosovsky, Mr. Santer and other EC members expressed concern about a possible slow down in privatisation, which they consider a guarantee of the completion of the economic reform and of the Czech economy's future competitiveness within the EU.

Tosovsky told his partners that the completion of privatisation was a task for the next cabinet which would emerge from the June elections, and admitted that under certain circumstances the privatisation process may be slowed down.

Eight people severely injured in railway accident

Eight people were injured seriously and another 17 lightly when two trains, one without passengers, collided head-on at the Stritez station, south Moravia, on Tuesday afternoon.

This is the fourth serious railway accident in one week. Leader of the trade union of railway workers Jaromir Dusek called on Railways director Vladimir Sosna to step down because as he claimed, the accidents were caused by mistakes in the way the railways are managed. However, according to Sosna, concrete railway employees who did not carry out their duties properly were responsible.

SocDem/Communists/no-confidence

MPs for the communist party want to initiate a vote of non- confidence in the cabinet at the May session of the Chamber of Deputies. Communist leader in the parliament Vojtech Filip announced this on Tuesday.

He said they took it really seriously, not as a political gesture. He explained that the main reason was that the cabinet had exceeded its powers as far as privatisation was concerned.

The strongest opposition party, the Social Democrats also said they would consider initiating a vote of no-confidence in the cabinet for the same reason. However, Social Democrat leader in the chamber of deputies Stanislav Gross ruled out that his party would join the communist initiative. He said the Social Democrats do not need the communists in this respect and would in no way support their effort.

Politics/satisfaction

83 percent of Czech citizens are not satisfied with the current political situation. This is the result of the latest opinion poll conducted by the Institute for Public Opinion Research. The satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the political situation is, according to the institute, closely connected with election preferences. The least satisfied are supporters of the opposition Republicans, Communists and Social Democrats.

EU/poll

According to another opinion poll, conducted by the Sofres-Factum agency, most Czech citizens support the Czech Republic's entry into the European Union, although the number has decreased slightly. Now, just under 57 percent in favour of joining the EU, two months ago, it was about seven percent more.

Again, support for the Czech Republic's EU membership is connected with election preferences: against are supporters of the Communist and the Republican parties.

Czechs say country's main problem is economic situation

The Czech Republic's economic prosperity was most often mentioned by Czechs as the country's chief problem in a recent poll by the STEM agency. The poll showed that people's concern about their own living standards came much further down the list.

Twenty-one percent named the country's general economic situation and prosperity as the main problem. Fourteen percent mentioned crime and bad legislation, 13 percent social and welfare policy. 10 percent of those asked said NATO and EU membership and foreign policy were the most important issues.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a mostly cloudy day, afternoon highs should range from 18 to 22 degrees Celsius. Thursday and Friday should be also cloudy with occasional showers, with highest daytime temperatures between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.