Cook visits Prague to boost Czech EU hopes

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The British foreign secretary, Robin Cook, was in Prague on Wednesday to give a much-needed boost to the Czech Republic as it strives to join the European Union. While Prague and the remaining five leading EU applicants are now making steady progress towards reforming their economies and updating legislation, there is a serious rift within the EU over the crucial issue of when to let them in. The candidates say they want a concrete target date to give them something to work towards. Brussels, however, is refusing to budge. Rob Cameron reports.

Mr Cook chose to use his Czech counterpart's first name at Wednesday's press conference, an informal touch that was reciprocated by Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan. So journalists were treated to a series of 'Jan firmly believes this' and 'Robin agrees wholeheartedly with me on that'. The informal language was a sign of the close relationship between the two countries on the issue of EU enlargement. The British foreign secretary spelled out his priorities for further talks on membership.