News Monday, APRIL 12th, 1999
Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines and now the news in full, read by Libor Kubik.
The Czech government has decided to spend up to 1,000 million crowns on humanitarian aid to Kosovo refugees.
The cabinet has also formed a ministerial group to finalise by Wednesday the forms in which this aid will be provided.
Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said after a cabinet meeting late on Sunday that he attached great hopes to the upcoming meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels, which opens on Monday.
He said he hoped the 19 allied states will be able to work out a detailed statement on the situation in Kosovo and what forms NATO's humanitarian aid to the refugees should take.
Kavan said earlier in the day that the NATO states probably will not reach consensus on a massive ground operation in the province. He said the Czech Republic was not positively inclined to support such an operation.
The United States has said that NATO has standby plans for the use of ground troops in the Kosovo conflict.
More than 300 delegates of the weekend's congress of the ruling Czech Social Democratic Party have described NATO's air strikes against Yugoslavia as an act of aggression.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and other government officials immediately distanced themselves from this initiative.
The strikes have been continuing for nearly three weeks now, after Yugoslavia refused to sign an agreement which would settle the situation in Kosovo, inhabited mainly by ethnic Albanians.
Three hundred and forty-one delegates stressed in a letter to Yugoslav Ambassador Djoko Stojicic that the air raids were in violation of the international law. The letter was printed on their party's official stationery.
The signatories, one of whom is of Serb descent, have tabled a draft resolution calling on all member parties of the Socialist International to help put an end to the armed conflict in Kosovo.
Former senator Josef Jarab has criticised leading Czech politicians for their noncommittal stance on NATO's armed action in Yugoslavia.
Professor Jarab, who is president of the Central European University in Budapest, has warned that their ambiguity on the NATO operation is tarnishing the international image of the Czech Republic.
Jarab's reaction came a few days after Lower House Speaker Vaclav Klaus's allegations that the air strikes have made hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians flee from the troubled province.
Mr Klaus is chairman of the main opposition Civic Democratic Party.
According to Professor Jarab, Czech politicians have yet to realise that the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is the last vestige of Stalinism in Europe.
The Social Democrats' outspoken deputy chairperson Petra Buzkova on Sunday defended her post in the last of a series of votes during her party's congress.
Our correspondent says that the youthful Buzkova often disagrees with the party's chairman Milos Zeman, the country's prime minister.
Mr Zeman was also returned to power at his party's convention on Saturday.
The Czech mechanised battalion on the SFOR peace-keeping mission in Bosnia was put on alert on Sunday in the wake of sporadic expressions of hostility spurred by NATO's air strikes against the neighbouring Yugoslavia.
The unit's spokesman Jiri Jurasek says part of Bosnia's population wrongly associates the SFOR mission, whose task is to create a safe environment in the country, with NATO's action against Slobodan Milosevic.
The first two truckloads of humanitarian aid to Kosovo refugees, organised by the People in Need foundation, are expected to reach the Albanian town of Kukes on Monday.
Another three trucks are expected to arrive in Kukes during the week.
The Czech Republic has a new beauty queen. Nineteen-year-old blonde Helena Houdova is a student of anthropology and has a lively interest in the environmental field and the protection of animals. She is also an activist of the international environmentalist movement Greenpeace.
The pageant was held on Saturday night in Karlovy Vary's prestigious Grand Hotel Pupp.
And finally, a word about the weather here in the Czech Republic.
An occluding front is advancing from the west, bringing along more showers and some snowfalls in the mountains. We expect Monday's daytime temperatures between nine and 13 degrees Celsius, cooling off to between three and seven in the night.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, a low pressure area will keep the skies cloudy and both days will be rather wet, with maximum temperatures from eight to 12 Celsius on Tuesday and between six and 10 degrees on Wednesday.
I am Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.