News Wednesday, MAY 26th, 1999

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail:

Czech-Greek peace initiative unveiled

The Czech Republic and Greece have handed over the full text of their joint peace initiative for Kosovo to NATO representatives in Brussels. The plan contains a provision calling for a temporary halt to NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia, as a gesture of goodwill designed to allow Belgrade to withdraw its troops from Kosovo . In return Milosevic is expected to fully comply with all of the conditions set by NATO and the Group of eight. The initiative likewise deals with the disbanding of para-military forces in Yugoslavia , the presence of a multi-national peace-keeping force in Kosovo, the return of refugees and local administration in the region in the coming months and years. The proposal suggests involving both the OSCE and the United Nations in peace-keeping and monitoring operations and covers the inevitable reconstruction of the war-torn country. Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan has stressed on several occasions that the plan is not meant to detract from or undermine other mediation efforts and has urged the international organizations concerned to accept as much or little of it as they see fit.

Grulich wants Czech Republic to take in more Kosovo refugees

Interior minister Vaclav Grulich intends to seek government approval for the Czech Republic to take in more refugees from Kosovo. Grulich ,who is planning to make the request at Wednesday' s Cabinet session , told the ctk news agency that his proposal to take in another 750 Kosovo Albanians would in effect mean earmarking another 60 million crowns in emergency aid. The bulk of the refugee-aid-operation on Czech territory has hereto been financed from the interior ministry's reserves for migrants and the ministry is said to be fast running out of funds. According to the interior minister accommodating another 750 refugees would not present a problem since facilities are available. There are over 800 Kosovo refugees on Czech territory at present.

The Cabinet is also set to debate a controversial new bill on the press, proposed amendments to the law on protection of underage children and the controversy surrounding plans to build a wall in Usti nad Labem separating a Roma housing estate from its neighbours.

Bratislava glad to retain customs union

Bratislava has welcomed Czech efforts to retain the customs union between the two countries, in the face of EU opposition. Pavol Hamzik, Slovak deputy premier in charge of EU integration policy, said in Bratislava on Tuesday that the Czech Republic's defense of the customs union in negotiations with the EU was reassuring and reiterated his country's efforts to make up for lost time and join the EU together with the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. He added that the question was not really pressing since EU membership was years away for both states and for the present time both countries benefited from the existing customs union. The EU however has exerted pressure on the Czech Republic to break off the arrangement and experts believe this is due to the country's gaining certain advantages as it moves closer to EU membership. Slovakia is the Czech Republic's second biggest trading partner.

Havel - health

President Havel, who is hospitalized with bronchitis is reported to be on the mend. Doctors say that the antibiotics treatment has proved effective , his temperature is back to normal and he may be released for home treatment within the next few days. Barring further complications , the president is expected to take up his duties in about ten days time but his planned visit to Albania has been cancelled.

Street Party on June 5th

Another Street Party is to take place in Prague on Saturday, June 5th. Organizers have described it as a cross between a fun gathering and a political protest against globalization, the worsening environment and Prague's traffic congested streets. Although there are plans to halt traffic for a symbolic few minutes the organizers say they want no repetition of the street violence which accompanied last year's Global Street party. In any case police are expected to be out in full force for the event.

And finally a look at the weather:

Meteorologists expect some scattered showers overnight but Wednesday should be fairly dry with partly cloudy skies and day temps between 18 and 22 degs C. The next few days should be very pleasant weather-wise. Thursday's day temps have been forecast at between 21 and 25degs , Fridays at between 24 and 28 degs C.