News Wednesday, SEPTEMBER 30th, 1998

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These are the top Czech news stories this hour. Now the news, read by Libor Kubik.

CZECH-1938-STATEMENT

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement marking the 60th anniversary of the Munich Agreements, has expressed hope that this country's integration in the European and Euro- Atlantic structures will prevent the signing of similar discriminatory accords in the future.

The ministry said that, hopefully, this integration would secure a fair share for the Czech Republic in international decision-making processes so that pacts, similar to that signed in Munich on 29 September 1938, are effectively precluded.

The statement described the Munich Agreements, which paved the way to the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, as one of the most shameful acts of European policy this century.

Historian say that the accords, signed by Britain, France, Germany and Italy, led to dismantling Czechoslovakia as one of Europe's few stable democracies and set the stage for the Second World War.

CZECH-EU-PREMIER

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman said in Brussels on Tuesday that his country will amend its controversial legislation concerning consumer lotteries.

The original amendment, which was passed despite President Havel's veto, excludes foreign firms from running consumer lotteries and has been described as discriminatory by EU officials.

The Ministry of Finance drafted a new version last week to somewhat ease the conditions.

Zeman and European Commission President Jacques Santer on met in Brussels over a host of issues including the EU enlargement and presentation of the policy programme of the new Czech Social Democrat government.

Zeman said the Czech Republic will do its best to adapt its domestic legislation to EU standards.

CZECH-SLOVAK

Premier Milos Zeman also welcomed the election result in neighbouring Slovakia, describing it as a victory for democratic political forces.

But it was announced in Bratislava on Tuesday that Premier Vladimir Meciar's party will be given first attempt to form a new government despite his coalition's defeat by combined opposition parties in last weekend's elections.

CZECH-POLITICS-BUDGET

Deputies for the senior opposition Civic Democratic Party have expressed worries that the deficit budget proposed by the cabinet might deepen restrictive tendencies in the economy rather than start economic growth.

ODS deputy Jaroslav Zverina said on Tuesday that if the proposed deficit is approved or if there is a continuing resolution with severe monetary restrictions, then there will be the danger of economic stagnation.

The Social Democrat cabinet expects a 27 billion crown deficit in the budget which was compiled as fiscally neutral.

CZECH-INTERIOR-PROVOCATEUR

Czech Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich says he is opposed to the use of agent provocateurs envisaged under an amended legislation against corruption.

But he told correspondents on Tuesday that fight against organised crime requires can take on many forms. He said it was necessary to find a balanced solution which would be acceptable both morally and politically.

HAVEL-TERRORISM

Czech President Vaclav Havel is to visit the BIS State Counterintelligence Service on Wednesday to check its plans for fighting terrorism.

Spokesman Ladislav Spacek said the president was to be briefed on the BIS's performance record and plans to remodel the service to suit requirements applicable in NATO and the EU.

Our correspondent says Havel has repeatedly condemned terrorism. organised crime and weapons of mass destruction as the major evils of civilisation.

CZECH-POLITICS-LEADER

The right-of-centre Czech Freedom Union party has a new leader in parliament. He is the former Trade and Industry Minister Karel Kuehnl, who on Tuesday succeeded Vladimir Mlynar.

The Freedom Party was formed early this year by defectors from ex-premier Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party. It has recently entered into a coalition agreement with three other right-wing opposition parties.

Under the agreement the four will jointly contest the Senate and community elections scheduled for December.

CZECH-CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS

Christian Democrat leader Josef Lux, who resigned last week after disclosing that he has leukaemia, is doing extremely well, according to his doctors.

Specialists from the Prague Institute of Haematology and Blood Transfusions said on Tuesday that Mr Lux was being treated as an out-patient and was being prepared for bone marrow transplant.

His doctors said this type of treatment is successful with between 50 and 80 percent of leukaemia patients.

Mr Lux was succeeded as party chairman and parliamentary leader by his deputy Jan Kasal.

SOCCER-SPARTA PRAGUE

Football -- and the Slovak owner of the Czech club AC Sparta Prague said on Tuesday that it may be up for sale.

A spokesman for the Slovak steel maker VSZ Holding told the SITA news agency that talks were being held on the sale but he would not say with whom.

Sparta was bought by VSZ two years ago for the equivalent of nearly 29 million U.S. dollars.

CZECH-WEATHER

Finally, the weather.

Wednesday will be an overcast and partly also wet day. Daytime highs will be from 14 and 18 degrees Celsius.

On Thursday and Friday, we are expecting scattered showers across the Czech territory, and morning fogs. Nighttime lows between six and 10 Celsius, daytime maxima from 14 to 18 degrees.

And that's the end of the news.