News Wednesday, MAY 13th, 1998

Radio Prague E News Date: 13.5.98 Written / Read by: Pauline Newman

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. I'm Pauline Newman, first let's take a look at the main headlines of the day:

You are tuned to Radio Prague, those were the headlines, now let's take a look at the news in full...

Havel / Home

Czech President Vaclav Havel is to leave hospital on Wednesday early evening. His team of doctors released a statement with the news on Tuesday afternoon, saying they were pleased with his progress. The President will also undergo a check - up on his lungs before being taken to his summer retreat outside Prague.

The former playwright who led Prague's bloodless overthrow of communism in 1989, is expected to be a central figure in talks on forming a new government after the forthcoming June General elections.

Parliament / Session

The Czech Parliament began its May session on Tuesday. The main point under discussion on Wednesday is expected to be the continued debate on approving the proposal to introduce a law protecting top secret material. MP's will also elect a new board of directors for the National Property Fund during this session.

On Tuesday, Parliament already voted in a new law clamping down on drug taking and trading. Last time the proposal passed through parliament it was rejected by President Havel who said victims of drug abuse would suffer rather than drug pushers. As from now, possessing drugs will be a crime.

Observers say this could be the last time Parliament meets before the forthcoming elections on June 20th, unless some topics need to be discussed again.

Geremek / Visit

Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek continues his two day visit to the Czech Republic. Addressing representatives of both houses of the Czech Parliament on Tuesday, Geremek praised the planned expansion of NATO. He also said that the process should not stop at the first wave of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, planned for next April. In his speech, Geremek focused on the aspect of European security. He also said that upon entering NATO, these countries should become "Advocates for the Central European region" and "defend the interests of other former east bloc countries wishing to join the alliance".

After meeting with Premier Josef Tosovsky, Geremek told journalists that the Czech Republic and Poland have many mutual, strategic interests and praised relations between the two countries. With his Czech counterpart, Jaroslav Sedivy, he discussed internal developments in the two countries.

On Wednesday, he is due to meet with Czech Defence Minister Michal Lobkowicz. The two men are expected to discuss preparations for integration into NATO. In an interview for CTK Press Agency, Lobkowicz spoke of Czech - Polish relations as being extremely close. He also stressed the historical importance of NATO membership for both countries. Bronislaw Geremek is also set to meet Czech Parliamentary speaker Milos Zeman.

Pilip / EBRD

Czech Finance Minister, Ivan Pilip on Tuesday attended an annual meeting of the European bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Kiev.

All 26 countries receiving help from the bank made presentations on their transition from communism to a free market. Pilip said he did not think June's Parliamentary election would destabilise the economy. He added that there could be discussion, focusing on further bank privatisation and on possible looser fiscal and monetary policy if the opposition entered government.

Hockey / Semi-final

Tuesday night saw the Czech hockey team lose for the first time during the World Championships to Finland. The Finns scored early in all three periods, on the way to a 4-1 win.

This is not the end of the road for the Czech team however, since according to the rules of the Championship, there must be two semi- final matches. The next game will be on Thursday.

Czech coach, Slavomir Lener said afterwards: "We just couldn't put it together tonight, but I strongly believe we can for the next match".

And we end as usual with a brief look at the weather:

A cold front moving over the Czech Republic on Wednesday means a drop in the recent high temperatures to about 23 degrees celsius. Skies will be cloudy with the possibility of scattered showers or thunderstorms in some areas. Temperatures during the night will range from 14 to 10 degrees celsius.

I'm Pauline Newman and that's all from the newsroom this hour.