News Wednesday, MARCH 11th, 1998

Radio Prague E-News, March 10, 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.


The Slovak Republic has officially protested against Czech president Vaclav Havel's comments on the political situation in the country. The Slovak foreign ministry said Havel's utterances were unacceptable, interfering with their internal affairs. President Havel said before he left for a visit to Poland on Monday that he was worried about the latest developments in Slovakia but expressed hope that democracy would eventually prevail. Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski supported president Havel's position, saying some practices of premier Meciar and his government were far from the standards usual in democratic countries. The latest wave of criticism of the situation in Slovakia arose after premier Meciar took over some presidential powers, replaced more than half of the country's ambassadors and granted amnesty to any persons who may have planned or participated in the kidnapping of president Kovac's son.


After sharp criticism from president Havel and right-wing politicians, the Social Democrats withdrew their demand for a referendum on NATO membership. Social Democrat leader in the chamber of deputies, Stanislav Gross, said that Social Democratic MP's will support the Czech Republic's entry into NATO in this parliamentary term. Earlier, Christian Democrat leader Josef Lux and President Vaclav Havel criticized the Social Democrats for their insisting on a referendum on NATO membership. President Havel said the security of the country cannot be a subject for party politicking and according to Mr. Lux, it was irresponsible of the Social Democrats to hesitate in accepting the unique chance the Czech Republic had.


Representatives of the Romany minority expect about ten thousand Romanies to leave the Czech Republic in the near future, they told journalists after meeting legal adviser to the U.S. Congress Helsinki Committee, Erika Schlager, on Tuesday. Deputy leader of the Romany Civic Initiative, Ivan Vesely, and an advisor to the Labour and Social Affairs Minister for Romany issues, Ladislav Body, said that this time, the emigres would be well-situated families who have no problems with housing and jobs but who feel insecure in the Czech Republic. Mr. Body, a former MP, said that he and his family were considering leaving the Czech Republic and that they no longer cared what Western country would be their destination.

New NATO members must show solidarity with hopefuls - Havel

Czech President Vaclav Havel, who is on a three-day official visit to Poland, told Polish public figures at Warsaw University on Tuesday that in his opinion, NATO membership was not a mere security bargain but an expression of the spirit of freedom and solidarity, and said new members would have to show solidarity with those not included in the first wave. He said it was the task of the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, the countries which are set to join NATO next year, to support the idea of further enlargement.


Freedom Union deputy leader Petr Mateju expects that his party's popularity will further increase and may eventually match that of the Social Democrats, whose popularity has fallen. He was reacting to the latest opinion poll conducted by the Institute for public opinion research which showed that the Social Democrats would acquire 25 percent of the vote, down 4 percent, while the recently-established Freedom Union gained 3 percent and is now supported by 13 percent of the electorate.

Czechs have to change attitude to Romanies -- EP

In a report made public on Tuesday, the European Parliament said that the Czech Republic should change its attitude towards the Romany ethnic minority and adopt freedom of the press laws. The report went on to explain that these moves would prove the Czech Republic's will to make progress in improving civic and political rights. The part concerning the Czech Republic calls on the European Commission to put the issues of integrating the Romany minority and adopting freedom of the press laws among their priorities for this year. The Czech government has already announced many steps that would benefit the Romanies, but in the end, nothing happened, the report writes, adding that The European Parliament cannot accept such a situation. The Czech Republic has to prove that it supports the European Union not only from the economic and commercial point of view, but also politically, it concludes.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather. On Wednesday, weather in central Europe will be influenced by a high-pressure area. It should be partially cloudy, afternoon highs should range from 2 degrees Celsius bellow zero to 2 above.

And that's the end of the news.