News Saturday, OCTOBER 14th, 2000

By Nick Carey

Czech Republic turns to EU for help with Temelin

Amidst continuing blockades of the Czech-Austrian border by Austrian opponents of the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia, the Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, has asked the EU to help the resolve the issue. The first reactor at Temelin went on line earlier this week, and in the lead up to the event there have been numerous blockades at the border by Austrian environmentalists. Several border crossings have been impassable since last Friday. The protests have spread to further crossings, one of which was attended on Friday by the former leader of the Austrian extreme right Freedom Party, Joerg Haider. The request for consultation on the issue was handed to the European Commission's ambassador in Prague Ramiro Cibrian on Friday, in line with a promise made by the Foreign Minister that this step would be officially undertaken by the end of this week.

On a related note, the Czech Republic's fellow member countries of the Visegrad Group, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, have expressed their support for the Czech government on this issue. Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said that the dispute over the Temelin nuclear power plant should be resolved through dialogue, rather than through protests that affect ordinary people. At an informal EU summit in Biarritz, Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Wagner stated that the border blockades are legal and justified.

Court sentences football fans for attack on train

A court in the North Moravian city of Ostrava has handed nine football fans prison sentences ranging from two to four years for an attack on a train last year in which a woman was seriously injured. The court found that the nine young men had planned an ambush for the train, which was carrying rival football fans. They then apparently threw stones at the train, one of which hit 33-year-old Iveta Cicha, who is now partially blind and confined to a wheelchair. The convicted men instantly filed an appeal against the court ruling.

Havel joins appeal for release of Kurdish activist

President Vaclav Havel has added his name to an appeal from the International Pen Club to Turkey for the release of Kurdish activist Esber Yagmurdereli. More than two hundred writers from twelve countries have called on Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit to release Mr. Yagmurdereli, a lawyer, dramatist and journalist, who has defended the rights of the Kurdish minority in Turkey. He was first imprisoned in 1978 and was released in 1991 on the condition that he cease all political activities. Mr. Yagmurdereli refused to comply and was imprisoned a second time in 1997 for breaching this agreement. The appeal has been made due to Mr. Yagmurdereli's failing health. He is blind and has problems with his heart and lungs.

Budapest expects swift action concerning Hungarian protestors

According to the Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag, the Hungarian government wants the Czech Republic to take swift action in resolving the cases of seven Hungarian demonstrators. The seven were arrested in Prague during the violent protests coincided with the IMF/World Bank meetings in late September. Hungarian Foreign Minister, Janos Martonyi, told the paper the Czechs are responsible for resolving this matter as soon as possible, and that the seven protestors should not come to any harm. According to an anti-globalisation organisation in Budapest, the seven detainees have committed no crime, and were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And finally, the weather forecast.

The weather over the weekend in the Czech Republic should bring partially cloudy skies with scattered showers expected, especially in the east. The highest daytime temperatures should reach twenty degrees on Saturday, and twenty two on Sunday. Temperatures during the night should reach a maximum of fourteen degrees Celsius on Saturday and twelve on Sunday.