News Monday, JULY 10th, 2000

Anti-nuclear protesters demand referendum on Temelin

As the Temelin nuclear power plant is being loaded with nuclear fuel, a dispute is raging over the possibility of a last-minute referendum on its launching. Environment activists have collected over 100.000 signatures in favour of a national referendum and have petitioned the government to postpone the planned trial operation long enough for a referendum to take place. President Havel has likewise supported the idea of a referendum on Temelin, saying that the speed with which the plant was being prepared for trial-operation was disconcerting and suggested that its operator CEZ was trying to reach a point of no-return in order to avoid a democratic debate. Environment minister Milos Kuzvart has expressed the view that although he had always favoured a referendum on the plant, public demand for it had come regrettably late. He did not however rule out the possibility altogether. The Cabinet is due to discuss the economic impact of Temelin's launching at its Wednesday session and observers note that although the Prime Minister is known to be against a referendum at this late stage, there have been changes at six Cabinet posts since the last vote and it is not clear what the position of the new ministers would be in the event of a fresh vote on Temelin.

The National Nuclear Safety Agency, which last week approved Temelin's loading with nuclear fuel, is expected to make a statement on Monday regarding nuclear safety norms at the plant.

President Havel in Croatia

On a state visit to Croatia, President Havel has been discussing possible means of avoiding fresh conflict in the Balkans with President Stipe Mesic. At a joint press briefing after the talks President Mesic said that security in the Balkans depended on how the international community responded to political actions of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. If the international community makes it clear that military aggression will be heavily sanctioned, then there is a good chance that peace can be maintained in this part of the world, President Mesic oted.

President Havel is the first Central European president to visit Croatia since the initiation of democratic changes five months ago and he told newsmen he was pleased to be able to express public support for President Mesic and the government. On Saturday afternoon President Havel met with the Czech minority in Croatia. Monday will see the Czech President in the sea port of Dubrovnik where he is scheduled to meet Slovenia's President Milan Kucan. The Czech head of state is also expected to make an appearance at the Dubrovnik summer festival.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival underway

The 35th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is now in full swing. Over the weekend film fans appraised over 100 Czech and foreign movies in competing and non-competing categories. The public loved in particular Angela's Ashes , an American-Irish production about life in Ireland between the wars, the Polish entry The Big Animal and The Cup, a comedy from Bhutan about soccer- obsessed Buddhist monks. Film fans are also on the look out for famous actors who are expected to attend some of the screenings. Among them are Anjelica Huston, Woody Harrelson , Hilary Swank and Franco Nero. Despite the rain this year's festival is said to have a record attendance and many visitors are watching five or six movies a day in order to make the most of it.

War veterans commemorative ceremony

A commemorative ceremony marking the 6oth anniversary of the founding of the Czechoslovak Armed Forces on the territory of Great Britain took place in the town of Cholmondeley on Sunday. Several dozen former legionaries and their families braved wind and rain to pay homage to those compatriots who fought and died in the SWW. Official delegations from the Czech Republic and Slovakia were also present. The brief ceremony ended with the planting of a linden tree close to the memorial stone for Czechoslovak war heroes.

Finally a quick look at the weather: a belt of rain moving in from the north-west should bring more cloudy skies and rain with day temps between 16 and 20 degs C. Moravia the eastern part of the Czech Republic should enjoy slightly better weather with intervals of sunshine and temp between 20 and 24 degs C. However it too will feel the effects of the cold front in the late afternoon hours. More rain is expected on Tuesday and Wednesday with day temps hovering between 18 and 22 degs C.