News Friday, APRIL 02th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines and now the news in full, read by Libor Kubik.


Former Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier has described NATO's air strikes against Yugoslavia as the biggest mistake made since the Vietnam war.

Dienstbier, who is United Nations' special human rights rapporteur on the former Yugoslavia, said on Thursday that one cannot fight for human rights by killing people.

Dienstbier, who was speaking in Geneva, said that deployment of land forces would have been a more effective deterrent for the regime of Slobodan Milosevic.

He said that according to reliable sources, school building had been bombed in the Kosovo capital Pristina. But he said it was ever more difficult to verify any information from out there, as both the Serbs and the Kosovo Liberation Army are harassing people who maintain links with the outside world.


President Vaclav Havel has chided his country's NATO Ambassador Karel Kovanda for his recent criticism of government officials because of their lukewarm support of the NATO action.

Ambassador Karel Kovanda has said that NATO is worried by what some Czech leaders have said about the action in Yugoslavia. Kovanda has now been accused of disloyalty towards the Social Democrat government.

Havel said he believes NATO's new members, and the alliance as a whole, will pass the litmus test of the war conflict in Yugoslavia. Havel and a handful of other politicians including Foreign Minister Jan Kavan are the only Czech leaders to unconditionally support the NATO air strikes against Milosevic.

Minister Kavan has issued a stern warning to Ambassador Kovanda but refrained from any further steps to demote him.

At least one cabinet minister has indicated that Kovanda should either resign or be dismissed.


The Lower house on Thursday defeated a Communist motion questioning the validity of the Washington Treaty -- NATO's founding document -- on Czech soil.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party says it is going to send four of its MPs on a fact-finding mission to Yugoslavia.

The party's parliamentary leader Vojtech Filip said the aim of the mission would be to verify the situation in the country, which has now been bombed by NATO planes for one week because of the situation in Kosovo.

In Yugoslavia itself, President Slobodan Milosevic and moderate Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova on Thursday committed themselves to seek a peaceful solution in Kosovo. This according to Serbian state media.


The Czech Defence Ministry has begun investigating reports that the Yugoslav army may be using a Czech-built passive radar which reportedly can detect aircraft using stealth technologies.

Germany's ZDF Television has quoted U.S. intelligence reports as indicating that a Belgrade may have obtained a specimen of Tamara from Russia before the year 1990.

Our correspondent says that the system was exported to the Soviet Union and other Warsaw pact countries in the period before 1990. But the Czech security agency BIS said on Thursday it had no information about any sale of Tamara to the Russians after the collapse of the Soviet Union.


The lower house of the Czech Parliament on Thursday approved stricter penalties for those who bribe civil servants, and for the officials who accept.

The new law, which still has to be approved by the Senate, stiffens the maximum punishment for civil servants caught taking bribes as well as those who attempt to pay them.

Those convicted of accepting bribes would face a maximum of eight years in jail, up from five currently, while those caught attempting to pay bribes could be jailed for a maximum of five years instead of three.

Our correspondent says that the Czech Republic, which has been selected for fast-track talks for European Union membership, has been frequently criticised by western diplomats and foreign investors for what is seen as an often corrupt investment environment.


A leading EU official has said that the Czech Republic is on the right track to EU membership but not all of the preparatory steps taken by Prague are swift enough.

Ramiro Cibrian, head of a European Commission delegation to the Czech Republic, said on Thursday that his feelings about the level of Czech preparedness for EU membership were rather mixed.

He was speaking after talks with Czech President Vaclav Havel.


Tennis -- and Belgium have picked teenager Xavier Malisse and claycourt specialist Filip Dewulf for the singles in the Davis Cup first round tie against the Czech Republic.

The Czechs will have to do without leading player Petr Korda who has been suspended by his national federation over a positive dope test at Wimbledon last year.

Coach Tomas Smid named Bohdan Ulihrach and Slava Dosedel for the singles while Jiri Novak, who beat Malisse in the final of the Mexican Open claycourt tournament in October, will feature in the doubles.


And finally the weather report.

Friday will be a mild and sunny day, although the morning temperatures will still be around freezing point. We expect daytime highs between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius.

During the Easter holidays, we may look forward to a balmy weather here in the Czech Republic, with temperatures in the vicinity of 18 degrees Celsius, cooling off to between one and five Celsius above freezing point.

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