News Sunday, MARCH 21st, 1999

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

The Czech Foreign ministry warns Czech citizens against travelling to Yugoslavia. The warning has been issued in connection with possible NATO airstrikes in the region, which will be carried out if Serbs do not sign a treaty on a peaceful solution to the present crisis in Kosovo. Foreign Minister Jan Kavan told Czech radio on Saturday that a crisis command had been formed at his ministry, which has been monitoring the situation in Yugoslavia day and night. Kavan said that the Czech Republic is ready to start evacuating Czech diplomats and their family members as soon as possible. If need be, their evacuation could start on Monday, Kavan announced.

Meanwhile, the lower house of the Czech parliament, the House of Deputies, will vote next week on sending a transport plane An-26 and a military field hospital to the troubled province of Kosovo. If the deputies approve the proposal, some 100 Czech soldiers will take part in the Kosovo operation for a period of 18 months. The planned mission would cost more than 500 million crowns. The field hospital could be sent to the region within 60 days following the ratification of the proposal. The maximum number of staff is expected to be 84 doctors and nurses, including five surgery teams that could perform some 50 operations a day. It is widely expected that the proposal will be approved by the majority of deputies.

Over 85 thousand Czech citizens have signed an open letter to premier Milos Zeman, in which they demand a speedy solution to the existing problems between the state and the church. The letter has been signed in Catholic churches throughout the country, the director of the Czech Christian Academy, Stanislav Novotny told the CTK news agency on Saturday. Initially, some 50 Czech intellectuals, artists, scientists and journalists signed the letter, and later on they were joined by thousands of ordinary believers. Minister of Culture, Pavel Dostal whose ministry wants to resolve the strained situation, has not commented on the letter and neither has premier Zeman.

I'm AS and that's the end of the news.