News Monday, MARCH 22nd, 1999

Hello and welcome to RP. Those were the main points, now the news in full, read by Alena Skodova.

Government - Temelin nuclear power plant

At its session on Monday, the Czech government is discussing a report elaborated by an independent commission of experts as to whether to finish the construction of the controversial nuclear power plant in Temelin, in Southern Bohemia, or to leave it unfinished. The independent report on Temelin, a project which has so far gobbled up more than 70 billion crowns, is not very positive. It is expected that the Ministry of Trade and Industry, which favours finishing the construction, and the Ministry of Environment, which opposes it, will be asked to work out their own plans on what to do with Temelin. The Senate chairwoman, Libuse Benesova, told newspeople on Sunday that we would need electricity from Temelin in the future, as our coal supplies are not so huge.

Havel - NATO, society

The fact that citizens are protesting against the Czech Republic's admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, president Vaclav Havel told TV Prima on Sunday, proves that our country belongs among the Western democracies. The president said that if the objections some people voiced against our NATO membership were reasonable, then if nothing these people were defending the right to hold their own views. "But," he added, "if somebody thinks it is necessary to protest without even knowing why, then I'm sorry for it." He went on to explain that by joining NATO, the Czech Republic has not lost its independence. "On the contrary, our say on various matters is now equal to that of the United States," Havel noted, adding that must now brace ourselves for situations when Czech soldiers will participate in all kinds of conflicts. Commenting on the present bitter political atmosphere in the country, the president said that Czechs have not yet been able to step clear of their communist past. Mr. Havel mentioned that he would be glad to see new, young politicians enter public life--Czechs who have not been influenced by communist thinking.

Zeman and Delors about EU prospects

Premier Milos Zeman has held talks in Prague with the former chairman of the European Commission, Jacques Delors. The two politicians discussed the situation in the European Union following last Tuesday's resignation of the European Commission, and the projects and concepts for the Union's further development. "We have agreed that the European Union should not be reduced to comprising a mere free trade zone, as it is understood by some right-wing conservative parties," Zeman told journalists. The Czech premier also said that last week's resignation of the European Commission was not likely to influence the pace of EU enlargement. "New EU members are to be admitted to the Union around the year 2003, and by that time the Commission will work normally," Zeman noted.

Cigarettes to be sold to people over 18

At its next meeting, due to start on Tuesday, the lower house of the Czech parliament, the House of Deputies, will discuss among other things a motion under which cigarettes and other tobacco products could be sold only to people aged over 18. At present, those who have turned 16 are allowed to buy cigarettes. The amendment to the law on the prevention of alcoholism and other forms of addiction has been submitted by two Christian democrat deputies, Josef Janecek and Jaromir Talir. According to them, the sooner young people start smoking, the worse the health damage is. In the Czech Republic, some 60 people die every day as a result of smoking.


And finally, the weather: Monday will be a cloudy day with rain and snow showers throughout the country, and daytime highs will range between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius.