Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm AS. First, the news headlines.
French president in the Czech republic
French president Jacques Chirac arrived in the Czech republic on Wednesday afternoon for a two day state visit. Not only is it his first trip to Prague, but also his first personal contact with the Czech republic in his post as French president. Mr. Chirac, after talks with Czech president Vaclav Havel at Prague castle confirmed his country's unconditional support for the Czech republic in its endeavour to join the European Union and expressed the hope that the Czech republic would become the Union's fully qualified member by the year 2000. "As far as NATO is concerned," said president Chirac, "the decision will be made at the NATO summit in Madrid next July. If everything goes well, we count that the Czech republic, Hungary and Poland could be admitted to NATO structures in 1999." On Thursday, the French president will have a speech before the Czech deputies and senators in the historical Vladislav Hall at Prague castle. The speech is to last for about one hour, and it will concetrate on the details of the French support for the Czech republic in its integration efforts.
In an article published in Wednesday's issue of the French newspaper Le Figaro, Czech Foreign minister Josef Zieleniec described the proposed opening of the European Union and the North Atlantic alliance to Central and Eastern Europe as having unique historical appeal. According to Zieleniec, the Czech republic's wish is for Europe not to lose its chance this time. The fall of the iron curtain has brought a new geo-political situation that can still be described as unstable, he continued, and it's in the Czech republic's interest that the situation become clear and stabilized. That's why our country wants to integrate itself into the European Union and NATO, which it considers as guarantees of a peaceful future for Europe, explained minister Zielenec.
The Czech Foreign ministry has expressed its surprise over a statement made by the Slovak government on Wednesday according to which the Czech republic is not willing to negotiate questions of the division of property of the former common state - Czechoslovakia. The Foreign ministry press department has told it the Czech CTK news agency. The Czech republic has always been prepared and willing to look after a solution to all open problems in the mutual relations between the Czech republic and Slovakia. The Foreign ministry statement further says that in the past, both states showed their ability to solve much more complicated issues than those which remain open. The Czech republic is interested in good neighbourly relation with Slovakia and yesterday's statement by the Slovak government does not serve this interest. The Slovak government said on Wednesday that one of the conditions to be admitted to NATO is good relations with neighbours. "That's why we feel the need to remind NATO that in its relation to Slovakia, the Czech republic does not fulfill this condition," said the Slovak government's statement on Wednesday.
Sport European championship runnner-up Czech republic's hopes of qualifying ended in injury time of their match against Yugoslavia, when Milosevic netted the visitors' 2-1 winner. The Czech republic languish in fourth place with just four points.
And finally a word about the weather: The skies will be claer in the Czech republic today, with the highest daily temperatures between 17 and 19 degrees Celsius.
And that's the end of the news.
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