News Wednesday, JULY 01th, 1998

Radio Prague E-news date: July 1st, 1998

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm DL and we begin with a look at the main newsstories this hour

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail

ODS-Social Democrats hint at cooperation

The leader of the winning party in the recent general elections, Milos Zeman of the Social Democrats has started a second round of talks to try and form a government. His talks with ODS leader Vaclav Klaus Tuesday afternoon are reported to have brought the two party's standpoints closer, leaving open the possibility of a broad coalition as well as potential ODS support for a Social Democrat minority government . We have agreed on the need to end political bickering and respect the wishes of Czech voters, the two arch rivals told newsmen but they refused to specify the scenarios or conditions discussed. A second meeting between them could take place later this week.

Pressure on potential partners

The sudden understanding which has sprung up between the right wing ODS and the left wing social democrats is attributed to the difficult attitude of the Freedom Union and Christian Democratic party -two possible coalition partners who could swing either way. In the first round of talks the two refused to join the Social Democrats in a left of centre coalition and they have already linked their presence in a future right-wing coalition to a number of conditions. These include a Freedom Union demand for an equal number of seats in Cabinet for all parties concerned, regardless of the number of votes received in the elections. ODS deputy chairman Ivan Langer said Tuesday the two parties were using unacceptable tactics to try and improve on their political standing and threatened that this could seriously complicate future government negotiations with his party.

Zeman makes new offer

Meanwhile, Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman has allegedly made more concessions in an effort to strike a deal with the Christian Democrats and Freedom Union. Although the Christian Democrats now appear more inclined towards such an agreement the Freedom Union is still strongly against joining the Social Democrats in a left-of-centre coalition. Freedom Union leader Jan Ruml told newsmen his party would not be blackmailed by threats of a grand coalition.

Czechs hit by higher prices

As of Wednesday, July 1st, Czechs face higher rent, gas and electricity prices, in line with the phased off deregulation of prices in these sectors of the economy. Rents will go up by 27% on average, gas by 27% and electricity by 24%. Close to two million Czechs will be hard hit by the additional expenses although the government has approved social compensation.

NO to nuclear power

Activists of the Rainbow eco-movement plan to stage a demonstration outside government headquarters Wednesday to try and get the Cabinet to scrap the Temelin nuclear power plant under construction in southern Bohemia. The Tosovsky cabinet which re-opened the question of Temelin's future is to debate the issue at its Wednesday session, after hearing parallel reports from the environment and industry ministers.

John Shuttock named US ambassador to Prague

President Clinton has named John Shuttock, a prominent American human rights expert, the next US ambassador to Prague. Mr. Shuttock is currently advisor to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. He will be replacing outgoing ambassador Jenone Walker.

Korda says "I'll be there"

Briefly from the world of sports - Number three seed Petr Korda is optimistic about his prospects of playing against Briton Tim Henman in the Wimbledon quarter finals on Wednesday despite his foot injury. Korda hurt his left foot when he slipped on a wet court during his Monday match against Dutchman John Van Lottum. Korda, who has been nursing the injury told newsmen Tuesday he felt much better - "if the weather's nice I'll be there" he quipped in response to countless inquiries.

And finally the weather -

the warm weather should continue although Wednesday's skies will be more overcast and we'll have to endure the occasional brief shower. Day temps between 22 and 26 degs C.