News Saturday, NOVEMBER 04th, 2000

Nick Carey

European Commission expresses dismay over border blockades

The European Commission has expressed its dismay over the continuing blockades of border crossings on the Czech-Austrian border by Austrian anti-nuclear activists. By Friday, all border crossings in South Bohemia had been closed down by the activists, in protest against the Temelin nuclear power plant. The protestors originally planned to maintain the blockades until Monday, but now many say they will keep the border closed until Temelin is closed down for six months while extensive safety checks are carried out. The European Commission stated that while it was dismayed at the blockades, this was a bilateral issue between the Czech Republic and Austria. According to diplomatic sources, the Czech government intends to monitor the situation at the border until Monday, and if the blockades continue, the cabinet may turn to the EU for help in resolving the issue.

On an related note, the International Roads Union, or the IRU, has called on the Austrian government to bring an end to the blockades. The IRU has also called on the European Commission for support. In an official letter to the Austrian interior and foreign ministers, the IRU has expressed its deep dissatisfaction over the blockades which it says seriously restrict international trade. According to IRU general secretary Martin Marmy, EU member states are obliged by law to ensure free movement of people and goods across their border. There has so far been no response from the Austrian government.

Opinion poll puts Four Party Alliance in the lead

According to a new opinion poll, an alliance of smaller centre-right opposition parties would emerge as the largest party in parliamentary elections. If elections were held now, then according to the poll, the Four Party Coalition would obtain twenty nine percent of the vote, while the main opposition party, the Civic Democrats, who have consistently dominated the polls in recent months, would come second with twenty five percent. The governing Social Democrat Party would come third with twenty percent, while the Communist Party, which made extensive gains in the polls throughout 1999, would slip back to fourth place with 15.5 percent. This is the first time that the Four Party Coalition has appeared in the polls as a single political unit.

Jail sentence for anti-IMF protestor

A Polish demonstrator arrested during anti-IMF and World Bank protests in Prague in September in Prague has received a one year prison sentence. The eighteen-year-old demonstrator was sentenced for hooliganism and allegedly assaulting a police officer. According to his lawyer, the young man says he was hit on the head with a cobblestone during violent protests on September 26th, and threw a stone towards riot police in revenge. There is no evidence, the lawyer says, that the stone hit a police officer, nor are there any witnesses that saw him throwing stones. The lawyer also claims that the young man was wounded by the stone, and that he received no treatment until ten hours after he was detained. The sentence was, he claimed, unbelievably severe and repressive.

And finally, the weather forecast

The weather over the weekend in the Czech Republic promises to be fairly gloomy and cold, with cloudy to overcast skies, and rain showers expected in places. The highest daytime temperatures should reach eleven degrees Celsius. Temperatures during the night should reach a maximum of eight degrees Celsius.