News Saturday, JUNE 12th, 1999

Written/read by: Ray Furlong

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I am Ray Furlong and we begin with the news headlines.

Those are the headlines - now the news in more detail.

President Vaclav Havel has said the end of the war in Yugoslavia is a significant step towards peace in the Balkans, but that it would be wrong to believe its the end of conflict, ethnic cleansing and confrontation there. In a statement issued through his spokesman, President Havel stressed that the international community must now re-establish coexistence between the Balkan nations and that rebuilding the region will take many years.

The Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, has suggested that the Czech Republic could contribute a mechanized force of 650 troops to the KFOR mission in Kosovo. Speaking during a visit to Budapest, Kavan said a special session of Parliament would meet to discuss the matter. The Czech government had originally planned a force of just 150 men - reaping widespread criticism. In Parliament on Friday, opposition deputies tried and failed to push a motion through the defence committee calling for a bigger contribution to the Kosovo peacekeeping mission. President Havel has also called for a bigger contingent, and Minister Kavan has not hidden his dismay at the small numbers planned by the government. 12

Just two weeks after an anarchist street party in Prague turned violent, with an attack on the US embassy, a similar event is apparently coming up. The Czech Internet newspaper Neviditelny pes has reported that the party is planned for Friday next week - to coincide with similar events in a number of European capitals, which like the recent Prague street party are described as a protest against globalisation. The mayor of Prague 2 district, Michal Basch, told the CTK news agency he was expecting an official announcement about the street party on Monday. Meanwhile, the Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich has been talking with Prague officials about security arrangements for such events - something which has come under close and critical scrutiny. 13

Thousands of toads have begun an annual exodus from a lake in south Moravia, closely watched by Czech police and fire service officials. The toads are a protected species and their route takes them across a busy road - so the police have closed it off, saying it will remain closed for at least a week. Another threat to the toads is sunny weather, since they would be unable to cross the hot asphalt. So firemen are standing by, ready to hose the road down for the reptilian travellers. But such arrangements will not be necessary in the future - this week work began on building two small toad- tunnels under the road. And with that croaking-good story, we end the news. 14