News Wednesday, DECEMBER 15th, 1999

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail:

Czechs not happy with present government

Close to 40% of Czechs think the Social Democrat minority government should resign , according to the results of an opinion survey conducted by the Sofres Factum agency. This news comes in the wake of parliament's rejection of the minority government's state budget proposal for the year 2,000 and amidst continued political bickering over failed talks to try and form a more action capable majority government. The public's frustration with the present political deadlock is also clear from the fact that a third of all Czechs would now favour a caretaker government made up of experts.

Klaus asks Havel for help

Meanwhile, Civic Democratic Party leader Vaclav Klaus has asked President Havel to help him convince the Christian Democrats and Freedom Union To take part in a rainbow coalition made up of all parliamentary parties with the exception of the communists. President Havel responded by saying that he was not in the habit of "persuading politicians on anyone's behalf" and that he would do no more than state his own opinion on the matter.

Czech Republic and Angola to resume diplomatic ties

The Czech Republic and Angola are to resume diplomatic relations after a five year break. A Czech foreign ministry statement said the two sides have resolved not to burden their relations with past problems and are ready to put behind them an incident in which Angolan authorities appropriated the residence of the Czech embassy in Luanda at which the Czech foreign ministry recalled its embassy staff and in a tit for tat measure ordered the Angolan representation in Prague out of the country. The two country's foreign ministry officials are said to have sighed a reconciliatory agreement restoring normal ties.

Czech prime minister leads economic mission to Vietnam

A Czech economic mission headed by prime minister Milos Zeman is in Hanoi for talks aimed at boosting economic cooperation and helping to reduce the Czech Republic's huge trade deficit with Vietnam. The Czech delegation, which includes finance minister Pavel Mertlik and trade minister Miroslav Gregr on Tuesday met with the Vietnamese premier Phan Van Khai to debate the lifting of a visa requirement for travellers with diplomatic passports and means of curbing the steady trickle of Vietnamese citizens who manage to obtain residence papers in this country illegally and do business with smuggled goods at various outdoor markets. The Czech delegation has delivered a million crowns worth aid package to the Vietnamese authorities to help alleviate the devastating impact of this years floods .The Czech Republic and Vietnam renewed full diplomatic relations in 1997 after a 24 year break.

Czech EU accession effort to continue according to schedule

Despite the conclusions of the Helsinki summit which have been interpreted by many as a postponement of the date of accession for the first wave of Central and East European candidates, chief Czech envoy to Brusseld Pavel Telicka has said the Czech Republic's schedule remains unchanged. We will continue to meet the set requirements according to the schedule drawn up with outlooks for membership in the year 2003, Telicka told reporters. Following the resignation of former deputy premier Egon Lansky it is now the Czech premier himself who heads the government's EU integration committee.

What Czechs expect of EU membership

In a related development , in an opinion survey in which they were asked what they expected of EU membership the vast majority of Czechs said that, first and foremost, it would raise the Czech Republic's prestige and increase the number of foreign nationals in this country. 50% of respondents said they expected their living standard to drop as a result of the impact on our market and 37% of respondents spoke of higher unemployment. 45% of Czechs think that as an EU member their country will have greater influence on world affairs.

President to visit the Vatican and Rome

Czech President Vaclav Havel is expected to travel to the Vatican at the end of this week where he is to be received by Pope John Paul the Second and attend a symposium on the Czech reformer priest John Hus. There have been signals that the Catholic Church is now ready to review its hard line stand regarding Hus' legacy. The symposium will also be attended by Cardinal Miloslav Vlk. The Czech president is likewise expected in Rome where he will meet with his Italian counterpart, president Carlo Ciampi and prime minister Massimo D'Alema.

And finally a look at the weather:

Wednesday is expected to be another cold and overcast day with scattered sleet or snow showers across the country. Day temps minus one to plus three degs. Nighttime lows minus four to minus eight degs C.