News Thursday, APRIL 22nd, 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.

Parliament to allow NATO troops in CR

At an extraordinary session late on Wednesday, both houses of Czech parliament approved the presence of NATO troops and the landing of NATO aircraft on Czech territory in connection with the Kosovo conflict. The approval meant that foreign troops could be deployed on Czech territory for the first time since 1991 after Soviet troops left the country at the end of the Cold War. Officials have said that NATO would probably use air fields in the Czech Republic, a new member of the alliance, to allow in-flight tankers to replenish their supplies, possibly by the end of the week. The proposal was approved by the government on Monday.

One of two gunmen arrested

Police have arrested one of two armed men who helped their colleague escape from a courtroom in Prague last Friday. The 41- year old Albanian was arrested in the North Bohemian region of Teplice. Two armed men freed a Croat directly from a courtroom at Prague City Court on Friday just when the court was considering whether to extradite the man to Germany where he is wanted for a serious criminal offence. The two men overpowered the court guard, seized their weapons and made off with the accused. Police warn that the Croat and the other man, who are both still on the run, are armed and potentially dangerous.

Trade deficit envisaged higher

The Czech foreign trade deficit in March could reach as much as nine billion crowns, while in February, the deficit was only four billion. Economic analysts addressed by the CTK news agency agreed that the trade gap is going to widen but they expect decline in both imports and exports. For the whole first quarter of this year, the Czech Statistical Office predicts a foreign trade deficit of 15 billion Czech crowns.

Nuclear TU employees demonstrated

The trade union of nuclear facility workers have demonstrated in Prague in support of the completion of the nuclear power station at Temelin, South Bohemia. About seven hundred employees of the Temelin and Dukovany nuclear power plants signed a petition "Voice for Temelin" and posted banners saying "Czech electricity for Czech households" and "When there's no coal, we'll burn environmentalists". Industry and trade minister advisory, Jiri Hanzlicek, pointed out that if Temelin was stopped, the Czech Republic would be dependent on electricity imports, and he described the ongoing public discussions about Temelin as an anti- nuclear campaign orchestrated from abroad.

Cities go humanitarian

Czech towns and cities are contributing to charity collections for Kosovo refugees. The Moravian city of Olomouc mayor Martin Tesarik said on Wednesday that his city donated half a million crowns for humanitarian aid. Prague district one announced that it will allocate four hundred million crowns from its budget to be donated to the People in Need foundation. Prague one mayor Jan Buergermeister said there will be further donations in the future.

Soldiers on Czech-Slovak border

The Czech-Slovak border is again guarded by soldiers. Czech army chief of staff Jiri Sedivy told reporters that several hundred special troops are helping Czech police seek illegal migrants whose numbers are increasing due to the Kosovo crisis. Sedivy said that various criminals try to cross the border with groups of illegal immigrants. Deputy premier Egon Lansky explained that according to international conventions, the military cannot guard the border but only assist the police.

Czech weather report

And finally, a brief look at the weather. We are expecting a mostly cloudy day with scattered showers, afternoon highs should range from 13 to 17 degrees Celsius. Friday and Saturday should be much the same, cloudy with occasional showers, with highest daytime temperatures between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.