News Wednesday, FEBRUARY 11th, 1998

Radio Prague E-News Date: February 11, 1998 Written/read by: Libor Kubik

These are the top stories from Prague. Now the news in more detail, read by Libor Kubik.


The American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has formally asked the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to support potential military strikes against Iraq.

She told Czech Foreign Minister Jaroslav Sedivy in Washington such support should be adequate -- mainly political and logistical.

According to foreign ministry officials in Prague, Albright was told any such move by the Czech Republic must be endorsed by its government and full legislature.

President Clinton will on Wednesday submit for Senate consideration documents ratifying the Czech, Hungarian and Polish entry to the North Atlantic alliance.

Here in Prague, Czech Defence Minister Michal Lobkowicz on Tuesday launched a series of programs promoting Czech NATO entry. On Wednesday, parliament starts a debate on the same topic, in spite of Communist opposition.


Czech President Vaclav Havel, at a rare news conference in Prague on Monday, named his priorities at the start of his second and last term in office.

They include narrowing the gap between his country and the EU, the Czech Republic's NATO entry, strengthening the independence of the judiciary, the completion of the privatisation process, and a reform of the non-profit sphere.

The presidential powers, Havel said, are more sweeping than people believe. He said he intended to strengthen his ties with the judiciary, in particular with the Constitutional Court, which he described as the pillars of democracy. Appointing judges and court officials is a presidential prerogative, and this duty should not be a mere formality, the president declared.


Czech President Vaclav Havel announced on Tuesday he was creating a new job in his administration -- that of vice chancellor. Havel's nominee for the post is Ivo Mathe, a former direction of Czech Public Television. The president said this executive post will enable Chancellor Ivan Medek to delegate most of his powers to a deputy.

In a tender earlier this month, Mr Mathe lost his job at the head of the public service television to Mr Jakub Puchalsky, an editor and presenter of the Czech Section of the BBC World Service.

Havel described his nominee as a skilled organiser.


The government of Czech Prime Minister Josef Tosovsky enjoys the support of more than half of those polled recently by the private agency Sofres-Factum.

A fifth of those polled in the survey published on Tuesday evening said their confidence in the new cabinet is about the same as in the right wing former government of ex-premier Vaclav Klaus.

Three fifths of those questioned said the process of forming Tosovsky's interim cabinet was constitutional, legitimate and decent.


Two right-wing Czech parties -- ex-premier Vaclav Klaus's ODS and the small Democratic Union of Ratibor Majzlik -- on Tuesday said they were prepared to work together to offset the rise of the post-communist left wing.

They said it would be to late to start working together only after June's early elections.


Germany's new ambassador to the Czech Republic, Michael Steiner, has presented his credentials to President Havel.

The German embassy had been without an envoy for only a couple of days, in contrast to the Czech ambassador's post in Bonn, which has stayed empty for more than six months now. The prospective new envoy Frantisek Cerny is still awaiting formal appointment.


In economic news, the Czech crown steadied significantly on Tuesday, crossing at one point the psychological exchange-rate limit of 19 to one German mark.

Experts predict that the crown will remain firm in the coming days but will not stay above 19 to the mark for long.


Sports -- and Czech Prime Minister Josef Tosovsky has congratulated his country's first medallist at the Nagano Winter Olympics, cross-country skier Katerina Neumannova, who won the silver medal on Tuesday morning.

Ms. Neumannova was narrowly beaten in the finish of the five- kilometre event by Russia's fiery Larissa Lazutina.


A quick look at the weather -- Wednesday's daytime temperatures will be from seven to 11 degrees Celsius in the Czech Republic, and around 10 above zero at an altitude.

Thursday's weather will be influenced by a massive high- pressure area over southern and southeastern Europe. The morning lows between two to minus two degrees, afternoon highs from 8 to 12 Celsius, but only about five above zero in areas where fogs will develop.

And that's the end of the news.