News Wednesday, OCTOBER 21st, 1998

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, I'm Pauline Newman, those were the headlines, now let's take a look at the news in full:

Havel / Visit

Czech President Vaclav Havel devoted the second day of a four day visit to the UK on Tuesday to political talks in Northern Ireland, meeting this year's joint Nobel Peace prize winner David Trimble and other leading figures. Havel who had also been a contender for this year's prize, praised the progress made towards peace in the British province.

The Czech President was also received at lunch by Queen Elizabeth II before meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair for talks focusing on Prague's bid for membership of NATO and the European Union.

Havel is scheduled to visit Glasgow on Wednesday and Oxford on Thursday to receive honorary doctorates. He is also having dinner with Prince Charles on Wednesday evening in Aberdeen.

On Monday, Havel and some thirty dramatists and members of Britain's literati attended a party in London at Tom Stoppard's flat. The President later said the evening provided a pleasant break from the vigours of his visit to Britain and that he had met many old friends. Among them was writer Salman Rushdie, who until recently had a death sentence hanging over his head.

Havel has been friends with playwright Tom Stoppard since the sixties, when the two began writing to each other, they met for the first time in the eighties.

Visa / Britain

The Czech Republic on Tuesday urged Britain not to impose visas on its citizens to counter large numbers of romanies claiming asylum, and said Prague had concrete plans to solve the problem.

Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and Human rights Commissioner Petr Uhl, speaking in London after talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair and other ministers said they had been assured that Britain had no immediate plans to require Czech visitors to obtain visas.

Earlier this month, Britain imposed visa restrictions on Slovaks after a huge increase in the number of asylum applications from Slovak romanies who say they are discriminated against at home.

Petr Uhl said the government planned to improve education, employment and living conditions for Czech Romanies. He also said that there were plans to boost protection against racist attacks and to add an anti-discrimination clause to the employment law. Uhl commented that Prague wanted to benefit from the experience of large councils in Britain which had successfully integrated large ethnic communities.

Jan Kavan said the Czech Republic's chances of joining the European Union could well be hit if its citizens were required to obtain visas before entering Britain.

The Czech Republic and five other states began full EU membership talks on 30th March this year.

German / Pledge

The Czech Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, welcomed a promise by German Foreign Minister designate Joschka Fischer, that historical differences between Prague and Bonn would not hinder the Czech Republic's entry to the European Union.

Paving the way for post-war Germany's first Red-Green government, Chancellor elect Gerhard Schroeder and the Green's party signed a coalition pact on Tuesday.

In a message to the aspiring European Union member states of Poland and the Czech Republic, Joschka Fischer vowed that the new government would - unlike its predecessor - not burden negotiations with the interests of millions of ethnic Germans who were expelled from eastern Europe after 1945.

Premiers / Budapest

The Premiers of the three states of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are set to meet on Wednesday in Budapest. They will discuss the development of mutual ties and co-operation since the last Visegrad meeting in 1991.

A spokesman for the Czech government said talks are focusing on NATO and European Union membership. He noted that this involves fulfilling traditional European democratic values such as human rights and a socially oriented market economy.

Czech Premier Milos Zeman has repeatedly stressed in the past, the importance of co-ordinating preparations for EU and NATO membership.

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

There will be warmer weather coming our way on Wednesday after the last few chilly days. A ridge of high pressure moving over the country means daytime temperatures will peak at about 13 degrees celsius, dropping during the night to minus two. Skies will be cloudy and overcast, with the possibility of rain later in the day.

I'm Pauline Newman and that's the end of the news.