News Friday, APRIL 30th, 1999

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail, read by Libor Kubik.


Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and his French counterpart Hubert Vedrine have discussed ways of peacefully resolving the crisis in Kosovo.

The two officials on Thursday met in Paris, where Kavan told journalists they had reached agreement on many points.

Kavan said without elaborating that he would announce the Czech plan for Kosovo when he has consulted all his colleagues from NATO, of which the Czech Republic is a new member. He said a possible date would be May 10.

The Czech foreign minister said his views on possible negotiations with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic differed from those of President Vaclav Havel.

Havel had said in an article for Wednesday's issue of the French daily Le Monde that the option of talks with Milosevic was out of the question.


President Vaclav Havel, who is visiting Canada, has declared that NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia signalled a new ethical stance in which national sovereignty could be violated for the sake of protecting people.

Havel on Thursday told a joint session of both houses of the Canadian parliament in Ottawa that the war in Yugoslavia gave human rights precedence over the rights of states. He said it had now been clearly stated that it is not permissible to slaughter people, to evict them from their homes, to maltreat them and to deprive them of their property.

The Czech president received long standing ovations when he said that NATO was fighting in Yugoslavia in the name of human interest for the fate of other human beings.


A second flight in as many days will on Friday fetch at least a hundred Kosovo refugees to safety in the Czech Republic. The flight, organised by the Ministry of the Interior, is expected to land at Mosnov Airport outside the North Moravian city of Ostrava early in the afternoon.

The first flight from the Macedonian capital Skopje carried 115 refugees from Kosovo. The party included 25 children, one baby and elderly people.

The Interior Ministry's spokesperson Marie Masarikova told the CTK news agency that the ethnic Albanians will be accommodated in one of the seven humanitarian relief centres, selected from 200 offers.

Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich has advised UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogato that the Czech Republic is prepared to accept around 750 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo.


The Czech Roman Catholic Primate, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk has asked for police protection, citing anonymous threats he has been receiving in connection with the support his church has expressed for NATO's air strikes against Yugoslavia.

His spokesman Daniel Herman is also under protection. He said on Thursday that the nature of the calls is such that they must be seriously considered.

The Catholic Church has stressed that although it favours a political settlement of the Kosovo crisis, it cannot be indifferent to the massive rape of human rights in Kosovo by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his regime. The Church has also condemned Czech critics of their country's open-door policy on accepting refugees.


High school students from the Czech Republic and the neighbouring Slovakia have met in Brno for three days of discussions on the theme of xenophobia.

Officials of the organising Brno grammar school at Zabovresky have said the students are discussing a wide range of topics – from the social roots of race and ethnic intolerance to the relationship between the advanced Western democracies and states which do not respect human rights. Affirmative action is also a topic.


Czech Vice premier Pavel Mertlik has asked the United States to delete his country from the list of states suspected of massive copyright violations.

Mr. Mertlik, who has attended a Washington meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World bank, has presented the issue to US Assistant Secretary of State Stuart Eizenstat.

The United States has blacklisted the Czech Republic because of widespread use in this country of pirated computer software, video and audio cassettes, as well as pirated compact discs.


And finally, a quick look at the weather. On Friday, we expect to see rather cloudy skies with some scattered showers or even thunderstorms. Night-time lows from four to eight degrees Celsius, daytime highs between 18 and 22 degrees.

On Saturday, the warm-air intrusion will culminate with temperatures between 18 and 22 Celsius, cooling off to between six and 10 degrees in the night. On Sunday, we expect a rather wet day, with temperatures from 12 to 16 degrees Celsius.

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