News Sunday, APRIL 18th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

New NATO members prefer air strikes to ground operation

Czech, Polish and Hungarian military chiefs of staff prefer air strikes to a ground operation in Yugoslavia. The three officials met on Saturday in the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary to discuss mutual cooperation after joining the North Atlantic Alliance. Czech Army Chief of Staff Jiri Sedivy said that sending ground troops to Yugoslavia was a political rather than military question. The military officials also signed a communique establishing two trilateral expert commissions whose task would be to deal with systems of command, control and standardization.

Air strikes support down

Almost 50 percent of Czechs oppose NATO's air strikes on Yugoslavia. This is the result of the latest opinion poll conducted by the STEM agency exclusively for Czech Radio and Czech Public TV. Over the past two weeks, the number of those who oppose the air attacks raised from 40 to 48 percent. On the other hand, the number of supporters of the military operation dropped from 40 to 34 percent. As far as party affiliation is concerned, the air strikes are unanimously supported only by Freedom Union voters.

Govt will agree with NATO planes landing on Czech territory

The Czech government will give its consent to the possible use of Czech military airports by NATO aircraft in connection with the Kosovo conflict, Foreign Minister Jan Kavan told journalists. Kavan said that it was most probable that the Czech Republic would be asked on the days ahead for approval of NATO refuelling planes landing at one or two Czech military airports. He said that given the complexity of the NATO aircraft's weapons systems and the necessary service, Czech airports could only be used by refuelling aircraft or military carrier aircraft. Under the Constitution, the deployment of NATO planes, which amounts to the presence of foreign troops on Czech territory, would require approval by parliament.

Czech harmonisation with EU law lagging behind

The harmonisation of Czech legislation with EU standards is seriously lagging behind the original schedule. Deputy Premier Egon Lansky told journalists after a meeting of the government committee for European integration, that there were serious inadequacies in the work of many ministries concerning bringing Czech laws into line with EU legislation.

Quad-coalition not planning to form govt with CSSD - Ruml

The coalition of four opposition right-wing parties is not negotiating with the ruling Social Democrats about forming a majority government, leader of the Freedom Union, Jan Ruml told CTK. He was reacting to the information published by some media, according to which the Social Democrats and the coalition of the Freedom Union, Christian Democrats, the Civic Democratic Alliance and the Democratic Union planned to sign a coalition agreement this autumn, when the state budget for the year 2000 will be discussed. Social Democrat deputy chairman and Deputy Premier Vladimir Spidla also denied there was any such negotiation.

Police so far unsuccessful in finding Croat sprung from courtroom

Czech police have not yet found a Croat who was freed by two armed men directly from a courtroom at Prague City Court on Friday. Police spokesman Josef Sulcek told CTK. The court was considering whether to extradite the man to Germany where he is wanted for a serious criminal offence, when two armed men overpowered the court guard seized their weapons and made off with the accused.. Police warn that the three men are armed and potentially dangerous.

Czech weather report

And finally, the a brief look at the weather. We are expecting a mostly cloudy day with scattered rain showers and snow showers in higher altitudes. Afternoon highs should range from 6 to 10 degrees Celsius. On Monday, a high pressure area will start influencing weather in the Czech Republic. It should be partially cloudy with occasional showers, with highest daytime temperatures between 7 and 11 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.