News Sunday, MARCH 28th, 1999
Welcome to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines and now the news in full, read by Libor Kubik.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has welcomed the European Union agreement on budget reform, which was reached on Friday. He said it kept his country on track for EU membership in the year 2003.
The agreement, reached at a summit in Berlin, aims to pave the way for EU enlargement by stabilising the spending on farm and regional aid, which swallows most of the 15-nation bloc's annual budget.
Minister Kavan said the results of the summit clearly opened space for further progress on negotiations about the actual enlargement and about the institutional reform of the EU.
The Czech Republic is one of five post-communist East European countries which, along with Cyprus, began fast-track talks on EU membership last year.
The fast-track candidates have agreed to submit four position papers by the end of May.
The Czech Republic, together with EU membership hopefuls Hungary and Poland, became members of NATO earlier this month.
Our correspondent says that agreement on the so-called Agenda 2000 was seen as vital if the EU was to set a target date for enlargement.
Many applicants insist there must be a target date and the Czech Republic has set its own -- the year 2003. But the European Commission has criticised Prague for the slow pace of its preparation for membership.
Several hundred protesters, including Czech Communists and Serbs, on Saturday staged a peaceful protest Prague against NATO air strikes in Yugoslavia.
The protesters on Wenceslas Square chanted and carried placards with slogans including "NATO go home" and "We are Yunited" in English.
Czech Communist Party leader Miroslav Grebenicek, a member of parliament, condemned the NATO attacks and the alliance's recent expansion to include the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
Other slogans attacked President Vaclav Havel. He said earlier this week that NATO's military action was an extreme but necessary step and that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic should sign the peace accord granting limited autonomy to Kosovo.
But former Prime Minister and current Speaker of the Lower House Vaclav Klaus had earlier expressed disappointment at the attacks. He said diplomacy had not been given enough chance.
Social Democrat Vice Chairman Stanislav Gross said on Saturday that now he could not raise his hand with clear conscience in favour of NATO military action against Yugoslavia.
He said he would study the latest on Kosovo during the weekend but did not rule out that he could join those who demand an end to the air raids.
He said NATO and the U.N. Security Council should not exclude Russia from the process of finding a peaceful settlement to the crisis. Gross implied that Russia could help mediate peace talks.
He was speaking at a meeting of the Hradec Kralove chapter of the Social Democratic Party. By irony, this local organisation has lately been disbanded for alleged breech of party discipline.
U.S. experts have questioned the operational safety of the controversial Temelin nuclear power station in South Bohemia, which will be using a safety equipment supplied by the American firm Westinghouse.
President Havel on Saturday told Czech Radio that he was not going to influence the cabinet's decision whether to carry on with the completion if Temelin.
A group of visiting experts have told activists of the Czech Duha environmental movement that the equipment in question probably would never obtain U.S. certification,
Duha officials told correspondents on Saturday that they have serious doubts about Temelin's construction timetable and safety specifications. They said their American guests could identify with their concerns.
And finally the weather report.
Sunday morning will be rather misty here in the Czech Republic, with daybreak temperatures between four and eight degrees Celsius. We expect scattered rain showers across most of the country and daytime highs between 12 and 16 degrees.
I am Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news