News Monday, JULY 31st, 2000

By Rob Cameron

Prague, Austria agree to set up 'Temelin hotline'

The Czech Republic and Austria have agreed to set up a special telephone hotline between Prague and Vienna as part of security measures for the newly-completed Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman and the chairman of the Austrian lower house of parliament agreed to set up the hotline during talks in Prague on Friday. Austria opposes the use of nuclear power, and has raised concerns that Temelin might not conform to European nuclear safety standards.

European Central Bank criticises new Czech law

The European Central Bank has described newly approved changes to the law on the Czech National Bank as a potential threat to the bank's independence. In an unofficial statement, quoted by the Czech News Agency, the European Bank says that some clauses are also inconsistent with European Union regulations. The statement echoes criticism voiced on Thursday by the head of the EU Commission delegation in Prague, Romano Cibrian. The main focus of criticism is a clause that divides the bank's budget into two parts, one of which has to be approved directly by Parliament.

Czech police deny Cheb child prostitution epidemic

The head of the Czech police force, Jiri Kolar, has denied claims made in a German magazine and on German television that child prostitution is widespread in the Czech Republic. Recent television pictures showed children near the town of Cheb offering themselves as prostitutes to German tourists. But Mr Kolar said that a special police unit sent to the area to investigate had found no evidence for child prostitution on a large scale, either in Cheb or in other parts of the country.

Gross: Czech Army will not be used directly at IMF meeting

The Interior Minister, Stanislav Gross, has said that the Czech Army will not be used directly to help keep order during September's Prague meeting of the IMF and World Bank. He said they will only serve to provide equipment for the police force. He added that 1600 soldiers will be helping the police, but that they will nearly all be stationed outside the city and will be unarmed. He firmly denied accusations that the ministry was being too heavy-handed, amid fears of a repeat of last year's violent protests in Seattle.

Poll shows confidence in the government increasing

An opinion poll published by the Institute for Public Opinion Research suggests that public faith in the government is rising. According to the poll a third of Czechs have confidence in Milos Zeman's cabinet, nearly twice the number in a similar poll last November. The institute attributes the change to the gradual recovery of the Czech economy and to a general calming on the Czech political scene.

Greek island kidnapper was Czech

It has been confirmed that a man shot dead by a Greek special commando unit after taking a number of people hostage on a yacht was the Czech citizen Frantisek Vesely. The Czech Consul in Athens said that relatives had helped to identify the man, who on Wednesday hijacked the yacht along with its Greek captain and five members of a family from Switzerland. During the incident none of the hostages were hurt. The man's motives for the hijacking remain unclear.

Bear hunt continues

The hunt continues for a bear that has been causing havoc in the hills on the Czech-Slovak border. So far it has caused 140,000 crowns worth of damage to livestock and property, and a group of experts set up to try to catch the bear have now laid down over a hundred kilogrammes of meat in the hope of luring it into a special cage. Bears are rare in the Czech Republic and it is still more unusual for them to come close to places of human habitation.


And finally a look at Monday's weather forecast. Monday will be another cool and showery day, with temperatures between 17 and 21 degrees Celsius. Although we can expect the weather to gradually improve as the week goes on.