News Tuesday, OCTOBER 13th, 1998

Hello and a very warm welcome to the programme. First let's take a look at the mian headlines of the day:

You are tuned to Radio Prague. I'm Pauline Newman, those wer the headlines, now let's take a look at the news in full:

Prague / Airstrikes

The Czech government on Monday stated its support for NATO strikes against Serbia and gave permission for alliance aircraft to use Czech airspace.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan later told reporters, however, that the government would still prefer to see a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Kosovo.

This comes as NATO is on the verge of military intervention to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe among the 250 000 Albanians who have been driven from their homes and to prevent a wider Balkan war.

Chairman of the Czech Parliament and former Premier Vaclav Klaus for his part, said on Monday, that NATO airstrikes over Kosovo would not resolve problems in the province.

He was speaking after talks with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who is currently in Prague. Both agreed that the conflict in Kosovo is a legacy of history and not a result of Slobodan Milosevic's rule.

Kosovo is a southern province of Serbia, which along with Montenegro, is all that remains of Yugoslavia after a decade of war and secession. 90% of Kosovo is ethnic Albania, but the province has been harshly ruled by Belgrade since 1989.

Basta / Committee

The Czech government on Monday also named Minister without Portfoliio, Jaroslav Basta, head of a Committee which will work towards protecting Czech economic intersts.

This committee is part and parcel of the new government's plan called "Clean Hands" aimed at wiping out corruption and economic crime.

Hillary Clinton / Prague

The first American lady, Hillary Clinton, is currently in Prague at the invitation of Czech President Vaclav Havel.

The highlight of her two day visit will be her speech on Tuesday at an international conference taking place in the Czech capital known as Forum 2000.

Upon her arrival at the airport on Monday afternoon, Mrs Clinton greeted members of the US Embassy, before leaving to meet new Czech Premier Milos Zeman, with whom she discussed global economics.

Later in the day, she also met with President Havel and his wife, as well as attending a gala dinner for participants of the Forum. She was last in Prague over two years ago.

ODS / Criticised

Members of the four right wing Czech opposition coalition parties, have criticised the other largest opposition party, the ODS led by former Premier Vaclav Klaus.

Representatives of the Christian Democrats, the Freedom Union, the Civic democratic Alliance and the Democratic Union, said on Monday that the ODS wants to monopolise all political decision making in Prague.

This comes after the ODS made it clear over the weekend that it does not approve of independent candidates for the forthcoming Senate and communal elections. Vaclav Klaus on Saturday, called this form of candidature "a gamble".

Several members of the opposition parties, said this critical attitude was proof that the ODS is out of touch with the realities of today's society. They also said that the upper house of Parliament, the Senate, can only function effectively if its members are not tied to party idealogy.

Inflation / Cuts

The broker firm, Patria Finance released a statement on Monday, revealing that the Czech Republic must lower inflation rates if it is to enter the European and Exchange Union.

Analysts said they expect overall inflation to reach 8.4 percent by the end of this year, a figure which should drop to six percent in January.

The company's chief economist said on Monday, that clearer fiscal policies, and a restructuring of interest rates, are some of the other conditions for membership. Should economic developments in the Czech Republic, go according to plan, he said the crown could be pegged to the Euro, by the year 2002.

Forum / Kosovo

Tuesday sees the continuation of the Forum 2000, an international conference on the many aspects of globalisation. The event which is held under the auspices of Czech President Vaclav Havel is in its second year.

The first day was overshadowed by the conflict in Kosovo, which was the main topic under discussion. Human rights champion, Sergei Kovalyov said on Monday, the the 20th century is marked as the greatest period of mass violence.

Vienna / Meeting

Heads of State from six European Countries, met in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Monday. Talks focused on pushing ahead with the eastward expansion of the European Union. Austrian President Thomas Klestil was the host for colleagues from Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia.

Czech President Vaclav Havel called for intervention to stop the bloodshed in Kosovo. He said: "The international community is repeating its mistake of the past: and that is considering intervention at five minutes past midnight instead of taking preventive action".

The Czech President criticised what he called the world's failure to learn from history, saying it had been clear for 15 years that Kosovo would explode sooner or later.

Havel and the other Presidents issued a statement calling for "decisive and coherent action to end fighting in Kosovo" and urged Belgrade to pull its troops out of the province. The Czech head odf state left Vienna late in the afternoon for Prague.

It is thought that the heads of state are scheduled to formulate a statement in which the rapid EU accession of fast track candidates, such as Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland, will be described as the key element in European stability and security.

And we end as usual with a brief look at the weather:

Tuesday will see more of the rainy, murky weather we had on Monday. Temperatures during the day will peak at about 12 degrees celsius, dropping during the night to as low as 5 degrees. So, I'm afraid, its going to be another chilly, wet, windy day.

I'm Pauline Newman and that's the end of the news.