News Sunday, MAY 09th, 1999

Radio Prague E-News Written/read by: Libor Kubik

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail, read by Libor Kubik.


As NATO bombs and missiles hit several civilian targets in Yugoslavia at the weekend, Czech public support for the allied air attacks has fallen to 30 percent.

Fifty percent of those polled on Friday by the private demographics agency STEM said they were opposed to the NATO campaign against Yugoslavia.

NATO admitted on Saturday that its aircraft hit the Chinese embassy in Belgrade by mistake during the night in a targeting error. News analysts have said this incident may have potentially far-reaching consequences for diplomatic efforts to end the Kosovo crisis.

The latest Czech poll also showed that 75 percent of citizens favour an immediate end to the allied bombing.

NATO’s accidental attack on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, in which Serb media say four people were killed, was the latest in a growing list of alliance blunders. But NATO has vowed to continue its 47-day-old campaign despite harsh criticism from China and Russia, and demands by Beijing to stop the raids.

Here in Prague, Czech President Vaclav Havel said on Saturday that mistakes are unavoidable in spite of NATO’s dedicated endeavour to minimise civilian casualties. Havel repeated his earlier statement that all blame rests on Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his reluctance to accept the conditions outlined by the Western allies.

Many Czechs opposed to the raids have said they fear the conflict spreading to include Russia. Others have expressed solidarity with fellow Slavs in Yugoslavia, which was a familiar holiday spot for Czechs especially during the Communist era.

The Czech Social Democratic government and President Vaclav Havel have fully backed the NATO air campaign as necessary to stop atrocities in Kosovo, but this country has no troops or arms involved in the conflict.

The Czech Republic, which along with Hungary and Poland became the first former Soviet Bloc members of NATO nearly two months ago, has been listed by diplomats as a candidate to supply peacekeeping troops to Kosovo once the conflict ends.


Fifty-four years ago this weekend, Prague was the scene of the last shots fired in World War Two. Czech President Vaclav Havel marked V-E Day by laying flowers to the Unknown Soldier’s Grave on Prague’s Vitkov Hill, in a simple ceremony.

Havel also took the oath of loyalty from 170 new members of the Prague Castle Guard and named several new generals of the Czech armed forces.

The solemn ceremony at the Castle, during which President Havel reviewed a parade staged by the guards of honour, was briefly interrupted by left-wing youth activists calling themselves the Socialist Youth Action against NATO. The protesters unfurled posters with the slogans “No Loyalty to Criminals” and “Deny allegiance, you are no beasts of burden”.


The Czech and Slovak ambassadors to Germany on Saturday jointly marked Liberation Day at a ceremony at the British Commonwealth Cemetery in Kleve, in the state of North Rhine- Westphalia.

On a site near the Dutch border, the two envoys laid flowers at the graves of Czechoslovak soldiers who fought alongside the Allied Forces in the Second World War.

The Reichswald forest cemetery contains the graves of six out of more than 500 Czechs and Slovaks who served with the British Royal Air Force.


Communist Party activists, along with representatives of other Czech left-wing and anti- fascist organisations, on Saturday paid homage to the victims of Nazism in a solemn act in Terezin north of Prague, the site of a World War II Jewish ghetto.

Communist MP Vaclav Exner and other speakers used this opportunity to condemn what they described as NATO’s aggression against Yugoslavia.

Another Communist member of parliament, Kveta Celisova, said the leftists were ashamed of whom she called “traitors at the Prague Castle, in the House of Deputies and the Senate, who advocate the war in Yugoslavia.”

A group of young people protested against the Communist interpretation of the events in Kosovo.


And finally, a quick look at the weather.

On Sunday and Monday, the Czech Republic will find itself under the impact of a high- pressure area advancing from the southwest. We expect a wet Sunday with scattered thunderstorms, and a much drier Monday with morning mists.

Night-time lows on Sunday between six and ten degrees Celsius, and a notch colder on Monday, when the morning temperatures will be from three to seven degrees. Daytime highs on both days from 15 to 19 Celsius.

I am Libor Kubik and that’s the end of the news.