News Monday, DECEMBER 11th, 2000

By Vladimir Tax

EU summit paves way for eastward enlargement

The European Union approved the Treaty of Nice on Monday, after a long summit which opened the way for Eastward enlargement. The early-morning accord by EU leaders means a commitment that the 15-nation bloc will be ready to start admitting candidate countries from 2003. The Czech Foreign Ministry has welcomed the outcome of the EU summit, saying the agreement reflected the goals the Czech government had been pushing for for a long time.

Kajinek back behind the bars

The convicted murderer Jiri Kajinek, who escaped from a maximum security prison six weeks ago, has been arrested and detained in a special facility for handling dangerous criminals in Vladice. Kajinek escaped from the most strictly guarded prison in the Czech Republic. Kajinek had been serving a life sentence for multiple murder in the Mirov prison but insisted on his innocence. A police special forces unit arrested Kajinek in Prague, in an apartment belonging to fellow inmate and convicted murderer Ludvik Cerny, who is also serving a life prison sentence at Mirov. The police said Kajinek was armed with two guns and a hand-grenade and was planning further criminal activities.

Czechs will not introduce entry visas for New Zealanders

The Czech foreign ministry is not considering the introduction of entry visas for citizens of New Zealand. New Zealand introduces visas for Czechs as of January 2001, as a reaction to the growing number of asylum-seekers from the Czech Republic. These include many Romanies who were refused asylum in Britain. The Czech foreign ministry said the measure was only temporary and therefore the Czech Republic will not reciprocate for the time being. Since 1999, 130 Czechs applied for asylum in New Zealand, which was almost ten percent of all applications there, but none of them were successful.

Unemployment stagnating

The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic was 8.5 percent in November, the same figure as in October. In the same period a year ago, the unemployment rate stood at 9 percent. The lowest unemployment was traditionally in the capital Prague and surrounding regions - around three percent - while the greatest number of jobless people remains in heavily industrialised and coal-mining Northern regions, with the highest unemployment in the region of Most - over 21 percent.

Labour and Social Affairs minister Vladimir Spidla expects unemployment to remain at approximately the same level until the end of the year, which would mean a nearly 1 percent fall year-on-year.

Temelin heat-up completes second stage

The second stage of heating up of the Temelin nuclear power station is nearly complete. During this stage, the controversial power plant in Southern Bohemia has reached 12 percent of the nominal output while undergoing thorough tests. The State Office for Nuclear Safety will receive the results of these tests in a several day's time and will decide whether to allow Temelin to proceed to the third stage, with output up to 30 percent. During the third stage, Temelin will also supply electricity to the national grid for the first time.

Weather forecast

And finally, a brief look at the weather. We are expecting a cloudy day with rain showers and snow in higher altitudes. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 5 to 9 degrees Celsius.