Radio Prague E-news 
Date:  11 March 1999, 1000 UTC
Written/read by:  Libor Kubik

Copyright (c) 1999 Radio Prague (Vysilani do zahranici CRo)

* The Czech foreign ministry has described Iranian President
  Khatami's current visit to Italy as a step in the right

* Scores of predominantly young people stage a protest outside
  the Chinese embassy in Prague over Beijing's alleged violation
  of human rights in Tibet.

* And the Social Democrat Czech government has passed a draft
  legislation which would allow persons of the same sex to
  formalise their relationship before a notary.

Good morning and welcome to Radio Prague.  Those were the headlines
and now the news in more detail, read by Libor Kubik.


The Czech foreign ministry has described Iranian President
Khatami's current visit to Italy as a step in the right direction
but expressed regret over the continuing absence of Tehran's
ambassador to Prague in protest against Radio Free Europe's Persian
broadcasts from Czech territory.

Khatami is the first Iranian head of state to have visited a
Western country since the Islamic revolution 20 years ago.

The ministry has described his visit as a further confirmation of
the positive trend started by Iran's general elections in 1997.  It
said talks were in progress with Tehran to resolve the situation
arising from the Iranian envoy's absence from Prague.


Scores of predominantly young people staged a protest on Wednesday
outside the Chinese embassy in Prague over Beijing's alleged
violation of human rights in Tibet.

Their protest marked the 40th anniversary of the brutal suppression
of a Tibetan uprising against Communist China.

Several protesters, including Senator Daniel Kroupa, tried to hand
over protest petitions to Chinese embassy officials but they were
not allowed to enter the embassy compound in Western Prague.

More than 80 Czech and Moravian municipalities hoisted the white-
red-blue flag of Tibet in remembrance of the atrocities committed
by China 40 years ago.


The Social Democrat Czech government has passed a draft legislation
which would allow persons of the same sex to formalise their
relationship before a notary.  Only one member of the cabinet was
against the legislation, which was drafted by all parliamentary
parties with the exception of the Christian Democrats.

Our correspondent says this legislation would enable gay and
lesbian couples to exercise most of the property and social rights
enjoyed by married couples.

The draft recognises the right of same-gender couples to receive
pensions on behalf of a deceased partner, to rent housing as
families, and similar benefits sanctioned by law.


Czech Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich, who was rushed to hospital
before a crucial government meeting last week, will stay there for
at least a couple of weeks.

Doctors at Prague's Military Hospital say it was a combination of
the flu, exhaustion and liver problems caused by Mr Grulich's
diabetes that caused his breakdown last week.

He is being fed intravenously and is administered medication to
stabilise his condition.

There have been speculations that his illness is much graver than


The chairman of the Czech Freedom Fighters Union, Jakub Cermin, has
said that Czechs are not well versed in their own history and have
no national pride.

Cermin was speaking on Wednesday at a seminar to mark the 60th
anniversary of his country's occupation by the Nazis at the start
of the Second World War.  The anniversary falls on Monday, March

Cermin said Czechs should cultivate a stronger sense of
togetherness now that they are going to join NATO and are striving
to become members of the European Union.

He said that for a small nation like the Czech Republic, membership
of these organisations was a security that tragedies such as the
Nazi occupation will never happen again.


U.S. Ambassador to NATO Alexander Wershbow has said that although
the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland have not met all the
military requirements for NATO membership, the pace of their
integration is satisfactory and the United States believes that the
decision by NATO's Madrid Summit two years ago to invite them to
join was sound.

Wershbow said Washington had never expected the armed forces of the
three states to instantly become as efficient as the German
Bundeswehr.  But the United States had closely monitored their
performance during peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, and concluded
that their accession into NATO, scheduled to take place on Friday,
is a fully warranted move.


Russia said on Wednesday it had made progress in talks with NATO on
modifying the Cold War-era Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe
and hoped to have goals agreed with the Western alliance by the end
of March.

Russia has long said it hopes to have principles drawn up for a new
CFE agreement before NATO's summit in Washington in April, when the
Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland formally join the alliance.


Our correspondent reports that a few hours before NATO's first
post-Cold War enlargement, the venue of the admission ceremony, the
city of Independence in the state of Missouri, remains largely
unconcerned, and few residents know what auspicious ceremony will
take place there on Friday.

Foreign Ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland are to
present documents confirming their accession to NATO into the hands
of U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Ms. Albright is expected to make a speech which observers point out
can have far-reaching international implications.  


Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema arrives in Prague on
Thursday for talks on the process of European integration.  His
visit was to have taken place last Month but was postponed due to
Mr D'Alema's cold.

He is scheduled to meet with Czech Premier Milos Zeman and
President Vaclav Havel

The incumbent Czech government has repeatedly expressed interest in
sharing Italy's experience with its massive anti-corruption drive
in implementing its own Clean Hands campaign to stamp out economic


The American citizen Steven Roach, who is suspected of having
tortured teenagers in his private Morava Academy education
institution near Brno, is still at large.  

Police said on Wednesday they believe he has fled the country to
avoid criminal investigation.  If found guilty, he could go to jail
for up to eight years.

A police source said Roach may have secretly returned to the United
States.  His wife and two instructors are facing the same charges. 
Roach, the only member of the team to have spent some time in
police custody, was released on bail last year.


Almost 70 percent of Czechs favour the re-introduction of the death
penalty, abolished after the collapse of the Communist regime in
their country almost 10 years ago.

A poll conducted by the government-funded IVVM agency and released
on Wednesday shows that Czechs support stiff penalties for
especially brutal crimes.

One Czech in five is against the capital punishment, most
frequently citing fears of judicial murder.  Just under 80 percent
of those polled believe that the age limit for legal liability
should be lower than 15 years, as the case is now.

I am Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news. 				    
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