How much can the far-right gain from the Temelin dispute?

Photo: CTK

Prague and Vienna are on relatively good terms but there is one issue that has been causing friction for almost a decade and I'm afraid it's an issue that will be very hard to solve. Nuclear free Austria fears that the Temelin nuclear power plant in south Bohemia - which is some 50 km away from the border with Austria - is dangerous and puts its citizens at risk. The Czechs, on the other hand, say their plant is safe and follows all safety precautions by the book.

I honestly do not know who is in the right and I would welcome more effort on both parts to resolve this dispute. But due to their history, Czechs have an aversion to countries meddling with their affairs and so I can, to a great extent, understand Prague's reluctance to share information on internal affairs.

In an effort to put more pressure on their government, Austrian activists have been staging continuous blockades of Czech-Austrian border crossings. This may be serving their purpose at home but it is certainly doing more harm than good here in the Czech Republic. Ordinary Czechs are losing patience with the activists but also with the Czech government. Not because it refuses to change its standpoint on Temelin but because it has not fought back and made it clear - with actions and not just words - that such behaviour among neighbours is unacceptable.

Photo: CTK
But what bothers me is that after years and years of discussion, the only non-governmental and non-environmental group that is about to take a measure that will surely be welcomed by the broader Czech public is the National Party - one of the country's most extreme right groupings. On Thursday, it published a call on all Czechs to join in counter-blockades of several Austrian border crossings into the Czech Republic. In its monthly paper National Politics and on its web site, it calls the blockades an appeal on the Austrian government to quit interfering with Czech affairs and on the Czech government to waste no more time and enter in discussion. The blockades will most probably take place at the end of next week and will last for several hours. If the appeal is not heard, a general blockade of all crossings would be held on October 26 - a national holiday in Austria.

While I believe that the National Party is genuinely tired of seeing no result on the Temelin affair, I fear it is using it to attract more members. Even if Czechs will be hesitant to join the party, actions like these may lead to them tolerating the far-right extreme. The dispute over Temelin is clearly moving in the wrong direction.