Daily news summary News Sunday, APRIL 26th, 1998

26-04-1998

President Havel is breathing normally after a routine operation at a clinic in the Austrian resort of Innsbruck.

The American ambassador hails the main opposition Social Democrats for dropping their demand that a nationwide referendum be held on their country's accession to NATO.

And a former Czech prime minister accuses European left-wing parties of stealing and re-packaging some key rightist values.

These are the top stories from Prague, I am Libor Kubik, now the news in more detail.

HAVEL-HEALTH

Czech President Vaclav Havel was breathing normally on Saturday after a 15-minute routine operation at a clinic in the Austrian resort of Innsbruck.

His doctors say it was the fourth operation on Mr Havel who has been in the hospital for two weeks after undergoing emergency surgery on a ruptured intestine.

The tracheotomy, or throat puncture, on Friday night came after Havel developed breathing problems last week while recovering from his first operation. His doctors said Havel's lung and intestinal problems were not connected.

Doctors then cleared a blockage in his right lung -- the same lung which was partially removed in a cancer operation nearly 18 months ago. The third operation was to remove a small abscess from his abdomen.

US-CZECH-AMBASSADOR

United States Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Ms. Jenonne Walker, on Saturday praised the main opposition Social Democrats for dropping their demand that a nationwide referendum be held on their country's accession to the North Atlantic alliance.

She told the party's defence committee that by entering NATO, the new member countries would not have to forgo their sovereignty and independence.

Speaking at a Social Democrat-organised seminar on state security and defence, Ambassador Walker said NATO has no right to order Czech troop deployment on a foreign territory, or to deploy its troops and weapons on Czech soil. She said any such moves would have to be endorsed by Czech state representatives.

The Czech Social Democrats, although firmly advocating their country's accession to NATO, have previously insisted that a referendum be held on this issue.

CZECH-RIGHT-KLAUS

The former Czech prime minister, Mr Vaclav Klaus, has accused European left-wing parties of stealing and re-packaging some key rightist values.

Mr Klaus, whose coalition government collapsed last autumn over a funding scandal in his own party, was re-elected on Friday a vice chairman of the European Democratic Union -- an organisation of right-wing and non-socialist parties. The EDU has met in the Austrian city of Salzburg in an attempt to coordinate strategies to offset the impact of their socialist adversaries, who are on the rise throughout Europe.

Klaus, a leading Euro-sceptic, said on Saturday that the EDU was both pro-European and pro-integrationist. But he praised the Continent's right-wingers for their growing criticism of some naive ideals harboured by the EU.

CZECH-DEMOCRACY-POLL

Two thirds of Czechs believe the situation in their country is going from bad to worse, and only just under 21 percent think this is not true.

This according to a poll conducted by the Prague-based Sofres- Factum agency and commissioned by Czech Public Radio and the Mlada Fronta Dnes daily newspaper.

The agency said on Saturday there had been a marked rise of pessimism compared with the situation shortly before the general elections two years ago. An early election is now due in the second half of June.

CZECH-WEIRD

On a lighter note, pupils in a Western Prague elementary school are forging ahead with an attempt to take the world's longest dictation -- of all things. They began writing -- with the help of their parents -- on Friday morning.

Every contestant has taken four minutes of dictation, containing assorted Czech spelling and grammatical idiosyncrasies, and the aim is to win an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.

A teacher said the dictation will continue until even the most adept writer collapses.

HOCKEY-CZECH-SWEDEN

Ice hockey -- and in Saturday's match at the Swedish Games in Stockholm on Saturday, the Czech Republic succumbed to host country Sweden 4 goals to 2. Their final standing -- second or third -- will be decided by the match between Sweden and Finland on Sunday.

CZECH-MARATHON

Athletics -- and Czech girl Alena Peterkova finished second in Saturday's marathon race for women in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

She finished the race in two hours, 34 minutes and nine seconds. Race favourite Irina Bogacheva of Kyrgyzstan placed first, and Byelorussian Elena Makalova was third.

CZECH-WEATHER

Finally, a look at the weather -- and the Czech Republic has been basking in sunshine at the weekend, with afternoon highs well over 20 degrees Celsius.

Nighttime lows have been around 10 degrees, but the idyll could end on Monday, when a cold front is expected to advance from the west, bringing frequent rain showers and, yes, even thunderstorms.

And that's the end of the news.

26-04-1998