News Friday, DECEMBER 01th, 2000

By Nick Carey

Dispute over central bank governor continues

The dispute over the new governor of the Czech National Bank continues. President Vaclav Havel officially named Zdenek Tuma as the new governor of the central bank on Wednesday. Mr. Tuma replaces Josef Tosovsky, who recently stepped down as governor after 11 years in office. The president made his announcement just two days before a new law comes into effect whereby the selection process will fall to the government. The Social Democrat government claims that the selection of Mr. Tuma was carried out incorrectly, saying that in the past, the appointment of a new governor was signed by both the president and the prime minister. Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman confirmed to journalists on Thursday that he will take up the matter with the Constitutional Court on Monday, to challenge President Havel's decision. According to a presidential spokesman, President Havel has acted in accordance with the Czech constitution, and does not require the prime minister's signature to appoint central bank governors.

Austrians want safety checks at Temelin

The Austrian Foreign Minister, Benito Ferrero-Wagner, says that at an upcoming meeting between Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel and Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, the Austrian government intends to push for further safety checks at the Temelin nuclear power plant. Relations between Austria and the Czech Republic have become strained in the past few months over Temelin. The two government leaders met at the end of October to discuss the issue, but the Austrian Chancellor was unable on that occasion to persuade his Czech counterpart to close down Temelin for six months for intensive safety checks. The Austrian Foreign Minister says that at the next meeting, the Austrian Chancellor will push for an environmental impact study, and for EU-standard safety checks to be implemented at Temelin.

Beef imports from certain EU countries halted

As of Friday, the import of all cattle, beef and beef products from EU countries where cases of BSE, or mad cow disease, have been discovered, will be halted. After consulting with the Agriculture Ministry, the State Veterinary Office issued a statement on Thursday that the Czech ban on beef imports will now include products from Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg, Holland, Germany and Spain. On a related note, a fresh opinion poll shows that fifty percent of the Czech people are prepared to stop eating beef as a result of the latest BSE scare.

Lower House rejects law on appointment of teachers

The Lower House of Parliament has rejected an amendment to the law on the selection of school headmasters. The amendment, proposed by members of two smaller centre-right parties, would have passed the appointment of school directors to local councils. The amendment was fiercely opposed by the teachers' union, as they claim it would politicise the selection process. The union has welcomed the rejection of the amendment. The chairman of the union, Jaroslav Rossler said that it was a great signal for schools in the Czech Republic.

Olomouc Baroque Column makes UNESCO list

On a lighter note, it's good news good news for the North Moravian city of Olomouc. The city's Baroque column, which is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, has been included on the UNESCO List of World Cultural Heritage. The thirty-five metre column was built in 1716. The site is one of sixty this year from around the world to make it on to the UNESCO list.

And finally, the weather forecast.

The weather in the Czech Republic on Friday should see overcast top foggy skies throughout the day. The highest daytime temperatures should reach eight degrees Celsius. Temperatures during the night should reach a maximum of two degrees Celsius. The weather should continue much the same over the weekend, with overcast skies and low temperatures. I'm Nick Carey, and that's the end of the news.