News Sunday, APRIL 11th, 1999

Hello and welcome to RP. Those were the headlines, now the news in full, read by Alena Skodova:

At an emergency meeting on Saturday, the Czech cabinet expressed its unified stand supporting the North Atlantic Council's view of the situation in Kosovo, Foreign Minister Jan Kavan informed the CTK news agency after the meeting. The cabinet met at the request of minister Kavan, who will attend the North Atlantic Council's session in Brussels on Monday. He intends to present his cabinet's joint stand to the Council, which is expected to issue a statement, agreed upon by representatives of the 19 NATO countries' governments.

In an interview for Saturday's issue of Pravo, Foreign minister Jan Kavan rejected the idea of Czech army units participating in a possible NATO ground operation in Yugoslavia. "In any case I'm strongly opposed to Czech units' participation in such an action, " minister Kavan told the daily, adding that he assumes the Czech Republic will not even be asked to send its ground forces to Yugoslavia. "I believe," said Kavan, "that a solution will be found which will not involve NATO ground operation in Yugoslavia against that country's will, which would in fact mean a classic war." Kavan went on to say he would endorse the idea of Czech soldiers being sent to the area to help protect Kosovo refugees. Kavan's opinion on this matter is backed by vice-premier Egon Lansky and Defence minister Vladimir Vetchy.

Controversy has continued over remarks made by Lower House Speaker, opposition leader Vaclav Klaus, who suggested the refugee crisis in the Balkans was sparked by NATO bombing. In an open letter, sent to the CTK news agency, Klaus's advisor, Ladislav Jakl says that Klaus's words were not meant as an expression of heartlessness towards the victims of the crisis and described Klaus's idea as a legitimate contemplation. Deputy Vladimir Mlynar from the opposition Freedom Union party has announced that his party's MPs will initiate a motion next week, distancing parliament from Klaus's remarks.

The 29th nation-wide congress of the Czech Social democratic party continued in Prague on Saturday. In the morning it was addressed by the Socialist International's General Secretary Luis Ayala, who said that in the struggle between "the indifferent and the committed", the Social democratic parties must show unequivocal support for the victims in Kosovo and all people in the region, whose human rights are being violated. "That is our strength, that is the strength of Social democracy against Milosevic's autocracy," Ayala told the congress in Prague. The congress was also addressed by chairman of the Czech- Moravian Trade Union Confederatioon, Richard Falbr, who praised the work the incumbent Social democrat government has been doing. As a member of the Constitutional-legislative committee of the Czech Senate, Mr.Falbr appreciated the fact that the work on new laws has substantially improved since the Social democrat cabinet of premier Milos Zeman was in office.