News Wednesday, AUGUST 05th, 1998

Radio Prague E-News Date: 5 August 1998 Written/read by: Vladimir Tax

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

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

Czech president's heartbeat stabilised - doctors

Czech President Vaclav Havel's heartbeat, which earlier showed an irregular rhythm, has stabilised but he is still being treated for pneumonia, his doctors said on Tuesday.

The president underwent a tracheotomy on Monday after the partial collapse of his right lung.

The head of Havel's medical team, Ilja Kotik, told a news conference on Tuesday that his patient's heart was functioning almost normally and the circulatory parameters had corrected themselves.

Doctors earlier said that on Monday night, Havel's pulse rate had risen to 200 beats a minute, leading to a fall in blood pressure. This threatened the president's life for about half an hour.

They also said that computer analysis had uncovered the initial signs of bronchial pneumonia which was intensively treated with antibiotics.

Kohl criticizes Zeman, Czech govt rejects criticism

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has sharply criticised Czech Premier Milos Zeman for the statement in which he likened Sudeten Germans--ethnic Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II--to Czech political extremists.

Kohl said in an interview for TV RTL that what Zeman said was entirely unacceptable and he would make it clear to Zeman soon that good neighbourly relations could not be based on such defamation. Chancellor Kohl added that he could not understand how a head of government could have made such absurd and totally unacceptable remarks.

But Czech deputy primem minister, Egon Lansky, rejected any criticism, saying it was based on a totally incorrect interpretation of Milos Zeman's statement.

Govt session

At its session today, the cabinet is expected to approve its manifesto. According to government spokesman Libor Roucek, the cabinet will then provide the document to MPs, before a vote of confidence takes place on the 18th of August.

Temelin row

Another item on the cabinet's agenda is deciding whether the completion of the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant will be subject to an independent evaluation.

Environment minister Milos Kuzvart insist on forming an independent commission comprised of foreign nuclear energy experts. This idea is opposed by Industry and trade minister Miroslav Gregr, who favors just an economic audit and has proclaimed that he would take full responsibility for the completion of the project. But this is contrary to the Social Democrat election programme, in which it demanded a re- assesment of the Temelin project based on an independent analysis.

Prague accedes to conventional arms exports code

The Czech Republic has accepted the conventional arms exports code, the Foreign Ministry told CTK on Tuesday.

The code that guides the conduct of nations in exporting conventional arms was passed by the European Union in June.

The ministry said that the Czech Republic has joined a declaration in which it says jointly with other EU associate coutnries that it respects the code's goals and that it endorses the criteria and principles contained in it.

The code emphasizes human rights, international commitments of the recipient country and security of the region to which weapons are sold.

Number of illegal crossings of border rising

The number of attempts to illegally cross the Czech border has increased since last year.

A total of almost 16 thousand people tried to get from the Czech Republic to another country and three thousand in the opposite direction in the first half of this year.

Most of these people were trying to cross the border to Germany, Austria was the second most popular destination.

In an interview for Czech Television, German Interior Ministry state secretary Kurt Schelter said that Czech authorities were not taking sufficient steps against criminal gangs involved in this enterprise, and the Czech Republic was not doing anything about foreigners gathering in border regions and preparing to cross the border.

Visas must not be unilateral - Grulich

According to interior minister Vaclav Grulich, the Czech Republic cannot introduce entry visas for citizens from certain East European states without prior consultations with these countries.

He was reacting to voices calling for the introduction of entry visas for people from some Balkan and former Soviet Union states. Those behind this demand cite the disproportionate number of crimes committed by these people on Czech territory.

Minister Grulich said refugees from countries like Romania, the former Yugoslavia and Ukraine are guilty of committing only petty crimes in the Czech Republic, but he did admit that Germany has brought pressure to bear on Czech bodies to stop a wave of illegal immigrants from these countries to the West.

Czech weather report

And finally, a brief look at the weather. We are expecting a rather cloudy day with scattered showers, afternoon highs should range from 21 to 25 degrees Celsius. Thursday and Friday should be partially cloudy, with temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.