News Tuesday, APRIL 13th, 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.

Czech officials' stands discourage NATO expansion - Havel

President Vaclav Havel has said that the stands held by some Czech politicians on the situation in Kosovo pose a threat to the further enlargement of NATO. He spoke on the public Czech Television channel late on Monday, immediately after a discussion with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan on the results of a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels. According to Havel, NATO doubted whether it should admit further members after its experience with controversial signals from the Czech Republic. As NATO allies the Czechs cannot extricate themselves from their duties and obligations and hope that others will help them, but not to be ready to help anyone else, Havel said.

Havel also said the Czech Republic must show solidarity with a possible NATO decision to launch a ground operation in Yugoslavia. He was reacting to Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, who said on Sunday that he did not expect the Social Democrat government to consent to any massive ground operation in Kosovo, but would provide troops for a peacekeeping force. However, Havel did not clearly say whether he would agree with sending Czech ground forces to Yugoslavia.

Czechs agree with NATO's statement - Kavan

The Czech Republic agrees with the statement on Kosovo which was approved by NATO member states' foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday and which was discussed twice by the Czech cabinet last weekend, Foreign Minister Jan Kavan told CTK. Kavan confirmed that the air strikes against Yugoslavia will only stop after President Slobodan Milosevic agrees to five demands from the international community, such as the immediate termination of military operations in Kosovo, withdrawal of armed troops from the province, an agreement on the deployment of international forces in Kosovo, and enabling all Kosovo refugees to return to their homes. Kavan said that the ministers discussed solutions to the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo and that possible ground operations were not on the agenda. Kavan said that the Czech Republic finds it suitable that NATO statement expects peace keeping forces to be sent to Kosovo only with Belgrade's approval. He said he could not imagine that Czech units would enter Kosovo without the approval of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Albright praises Czech stand, role in NATO enlargement

The Czech stand taken at Monday's meeting of the NATO foreign ministers in Brussels aimed to harmonise the Alliance's attitude in dealing with the Yugoslav conflict was praised by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She also stressed the importance of the Czech stand for further NATO enlargement. Albright said that the role played by the Czechs and Poles was very important mainly because the Alliance has been enlarged by admission of countries "whose people know what it is to live under dictatorship." Second, Czechs can serve as an example to other countries that have not yet been admitted to NATO, Albright said, adding that the Czech Republic had a very important role to play.

Communists condemn "normalisation" after 1968

The Communists party has condemned the process of "normalisation" which started in April 1969, the Communist Party spokeswoman Vera Zezulkova said on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Communist hard liners' severe measures against those who opposed Soviet-style socialism. She said that a number of former Communist party members, who had to leave the party after 1969, joined the current Communist party in 1990. The first phase of the "normalisation," officially referred to as consolidation, was launched in April 1969, eight months after the Soviet-led invasion and occupation of Czechoslovakia. The decisive power and activities were taken over by the "proponents of Marxism-Leninism" represented by Gustav Husak.

Security Council meets Tuesday

The Czech Republic's State Security Council meets today to discuss the participation of Czech representatives at a NATO summit in Washington later this month, and the purchase of supersonic aircraft for the Czech army. The Security Council comprises the highest state representatives, including the premier, deputy premiers, Central Bank governor and some ministers. However, this session is to be attended also by president Vaclav Havel, and chairmen of both houses of parliament.

Tripartite agrees on revitalisation scheme

Partners in the tripartite, that is the government, the trade unions and representatives of employers, have agreed on the main criteria for a revitalisation programme for Czech industry. Deputy chairman of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions, Milan Stech, said that the programme should include a small number of companies, unsuccessful company owners should have only limited say in the process, with the key role being played by creditors. The revitalisation programme must be in line with EU legislation and should include social programmes. Labour and Social affairs minister Vladimir Spidla said that a new programme has been compiled based on two competitive proposals by industry and trade minister Miroslav Gregr and deputy premier for economic policy Pavel Mertlik.

Economists about revitalisation programme

Meanwhile, leading Czech economic analysts agreed that whatever the final version of the revitalisation programme will be, it is unlikely to help the Czech economy very much. Experts addressed by the CTK news agency said that the government should focus on changes to the legislation to improve the position of creditors. Martin Cihak from Komercni banka said that due to the limited amount of money available in the state budget, the programme would help only a very small number of companies and would therefore have almost no macroeconomic effect. Pavel Sobisek of Bank Austria Creditanstalt maintains that the better position of creditors, meaning mainly the banks, would help them exert pressure on company owners to cooperate in the restructuralisation of their enterprises. Some banks are also disappointed that the government has not asked them for their views on the revitalisation plan.

Temelin study cost less than expected

The assessment of the completion of the Temelin nuclear power station by an independent expert team cost over ten million Czech crowns. Deputy premier Pavel Mertlik's spokesman told reporters that the planned costs were twice as high. The commission presented its report at the end of February. Although it did not answer the question whether or not the controversial project should be completed, environmentalists welcomed its conclusion that the putting the plant in operation would be risky and the money invested was not likely to be repaid. The cabinet is to decide on the future of Temelin in May based on alternative studies worked out by the trade and industry minister Miroslav Gregr and environment minister Milos Kuzvart.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather forecast. Weather in the Czech Republic will be influenced by a low pressure area from the North. We are expecting a mostly cloudy day with scattered showers, afternoon highs should range from 9 to 13 degrees Celsius. Wednesday and Thursday should be much the same, cloudy or partially cloudy with occasional showers, with highest daytime temperatures around ten degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.