News Wednesday, JULY 08th, 1998

Radio Prague E-News, July 8, 1998, 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.

CSSD-ODS agreement could be approved on Wednesday

Talks on an "opposition agreement" between the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats have proceeded far enough to enable the agreement to be approved at leadership meetings of both parties later on Wednesday, leaders of the two parties, Milos Zeman and Vaclav Klaus, said after their meeting on Tuesday.

Under the so-called "opposition agreement" the Social Democrats would form a minority cabinet which would be tolerated by the Civic Democrats. The two parties together have 137 votes in the 200-seat chamber of deputies.

The accommodating approach of the Social Democrats towards their main rival, the Civic Democrats, has alarmed minor centre-right parties, whose plans to join either a possible centre-left or a centre-right coalition failed due to personal animosity and programme differences. The Freedom Union even revised its negative stance and hinted that it could tolerate a minority coalition of the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats. But according to Social Democrat Milos Zeman, the negotiations with the Civic Democrats have proceeded so far that it would be very difficult to consider resuming talks on other options.

Zeman likely to propose ODS-backed CSSD cabinet to Havel

This Thursday is the deadline for Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman to conclude the talks on forming a new cabinet which he has conducted at the request of President Vaclav Havel.

Zeman is expected to propose to Havel a minority cabinet

Although Zeman originally sought a cabinet comprising the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, in the end he is most likely to propose to Havel a minority cabinet comprised of the Social Democrats and possibly independent experts, which would be backed by the potential main opposition Civic Democratic Party of former premier Vaclav Klaus.

President Havel's advisor Jiri Pehe said the president will have to appoint Milos Zeman as new premier. But he added that the president is not very happy with this solution and still hopes for a coalition government comprising the Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union.

Union won't back CSSD cabinet

The two smaller center-right parties, the Freedom Union and the Christian Democrats announced on Tuesday that they will not back a minority Social Democratic cabinet and are ready to go into opposition.

The two parties want to closely cooperate with each other as parliamentary opposition.

On Monday, the two parties announced they were going to conclude an agreement on strategic partnership in response to the agreement between the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats.

Austrian minister in Czechland

Austrian foreign minister Wolfgang Shuessel is visiting Prague to discuss EU enlargement. Austria took over EU presidency on the first of July. Schuessel said Austria wanted to start talks this autumn with the most advanced applicant countries. Czech foreign minister Jaroslav Sedivy confirmed that the Czech Republic will be ready to start the talks at the specified date.

After a meeting with Sedivy, minister Schuessel stressed the need to preserve the dynamics of the enlargement process and praised the Czech Republic for not including the EU accession issue in political disputes.

Czech weather report

And finally, a brief look at the weather. We are expecting another relatively cold and cloudy day with scattered showers, with afternoon highs between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.