News Wednesday, MAY 06th, 1998

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Radio Prague E-News Date: May 6, 1998 Written/read by: Vladimir Tax

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Havel's last day in Innsbruck

Czech President Vaclav Havel returns home today after more than three weeks in hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, where he was taken for an emergency surgery on his intestine. Doctors decided that Mr. Havel had recovered enough from the surgery to be transported.

President Havel arrives in Prague early in the afternoon. He will now spend several days at the Central Military Hospital in Prague.

President Havel has been given a plush teddy bear with a wish to be "as strong as a bear" as a farewell gift from about two dozens of Czech and Slovak nurses, who work in the Innsbruck hospital.

Ruml to file suit against CSSD chairman Zeman

Freedom Union chairman Jan Ruml has decided to file a lawsuit against Chamber of Deputies speaker and Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman who has accused Ruml of plotting a coup against the Social Democrats, former premier Vaclav Klaus and of provoking early elections.

Ruml said in a statement late on Tuesday that he was going to sue Zeman for defamation and spreading false alarm.

Earlier in the day, Zeman met police investigator Martin Hadek and passed him documents allegedly proving that former interior minister Jan Ruml and people around president Havel were behind the fall of the former cabinet of premier Vaclav Klaus and that they also attempted to discredit the Social Democratic Party by initiating the so-called Bamberg affair.

Security experts agree that the materials are most likely forgeries, and aimed at discrediting both Milos Zeman and Jan Ruml.

Czech Republic unable to meet all NATO requirements now

The Czech Republic fully or partly accepts all 52 proposals concerning the target tasks of the armed forces submitted by NATO, but it is unable to fulfil them all by the moment of entry, Czech chief of staff Jiri Sedivy told CTK on Tuesday and added that a longer period, until the year 2003, is being considered.

Sedivy and his counterparts from Hungary and Poland attended their first meeting of the NATO Military Committee on Tuesday.

He said it was necessary to realise that the sources of money were limited. It must be therefore considered carefully where to spend the money, Sedivy said, explaining the delay in fulfilling the proposed targets of harmonisation with NATO forces.

Visa-free agreement with Argentina this year - Sedivy

The Czech Republic and Argentina could sign an agreement on visa-free relations in mid-1998, Czech Foreign Minister Jaroslav Sedivy told journalists after a meeting with his Argentinian counterpart Guido di Tella on Tuesday.

Minister Sedivy said that the negotiations were nearing the end and that originally he had thought that he could sign the agreement during the current visit to Argentina. He indicated that the delay had been caused by the local Interior Ministry.

Czechs/privatisation/Euro

According to a recent opinion poll conducted by the Sofres- Factum agency, the voucher privatisation scheme, a key part of the economic transformation in the Czech Republic, failed to fulfil the expectations of most Czechs, and more than half of those asked said they felt deceived by the privatisation. Two thirds are convinced that the whole operation served the interests of the ruling group and dishonest people. In the process, all citizens could buy shares of state-owned companies for a symbolic price.

The view of voucher privatisation has grown more negative, the agency said. While in 1996, 56 percent of those asked were dissatisfied, now it is 69 percent.

Another opinion poll by the same agency revealed that most Czechs - 57 percent - would approve the single European currency, Euro, being introduced in the Czech Republic. However, about a quarter of those asked had never heard of the Euro.

Forums/Pilip/Kuehnl

At a Managers' Forum in Prague on Tuesday, Finance Minister Ivan Pilip stressed the necessity of fighting inflation, as the Czech Republic will eventually have to meet European Union criteria. He said he saw room for public spending cuts and easing the tight fiscal policy.

At another economic conference in Prague on Tuesday, Industry and Trade Minister Karel Kuehnl said the foreign trade deficit this year could fall below 100 billion Czech crowns. He added this estimate was near the upper limit. In 1997, the foreign trade gap reached 140 billion crowns, down from 160 billion in the previous year.

Ice hockey - Czechs cruise into second round

Hockey -- and Olympic gold medallists the Czech Republic crushed Germany 8-1 on Tuesday to move unbeaten into the second round of the ice hockey world championships.

The Czechs finished top of the group with six points.

The victory came as a relief to the Olympic gold medallists who have been hit by a rash of injuries that left their backline depleted. But help is on the way in the form of Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Jiri Slegr and Czech officials said Petr Sykora of the New Jersey Devils would also join the team.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a mostly cloudy to overcast day with scattered showers, afternoon highs should range from 13 to 17 degrees Celsius. On Thursday and Friday we should see more sunshine, highest daytime temperatures should range from 15 to 19 degrees Celsius on Thursday and from 18 to 22 on Friday.

And that's the end of the news.