News Sunday, DECEMBER 17th, 2000

By Nick Carey

Temelin shut down

The controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia has shut down due to a malfunction of the plant's condenser pumps. CEZ, the company in charge of constructing and operating Temelin, said in a statement that the first reactor at the plant, which began test operations in October, went into automatic shutdown on Friday night. According to the Czech Nuclear Safety Agency,the shutdown was normal, and demonstrated that the plant's security systems were in working order. The shutdown occurred only hours after the nuclear safety agency had given the go ahead for CEZ to raise output in the first reactor to thirty percent. The agency also announced that tests will continue as planned at Temelin. Austrian opponents of Temelin were fiercely critical of a twelve hours delay before Austrian officials were informed of the shutdown. The issue of Temelin has severely strained relations between Austria and the Czech Republic in recent months.

Fresh demonstrations against Temelin

Fresh demonstrations against the Temelin nuclear power plant have been held on both the Czech-Austrian and Czech-German borders. Protestors claim that an agreement reached by Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel and Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman earlier this week to implement further safety checks at Temelin, and to carry out an environmental impact study of the nuclear power plant, is insufficient. Unlike previous demonstrations, however, the protestors do not intend to block border crossings into the Czech Republic. Border blockades in recent months have worsened Czech-Austrian relations, and officials on both sides have expressed their opposition to any further blockades.

Kavan: Czech presence in EP too small

In a letter to the European Commission, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has lodged a complaint over the amount of seats that will be allotted to the Czech Republic in the European Parliament, after the Czech Republic joins the EU. The Czech Republic is to receive twenty seats in the parliament, but Mr. Kavan says in his letter that this is unfair, as current EU countries with a similar population will receive two seats more than that. Mr. Kavan originally expressed his satisfaction with the deal, which was agreed at the historic EU summit in Nice last week, but now he wants the European Commission to resolve the situation in the European Parliament. Experts on EU expansion believe that in the near future that the Czech Republic may be able to increase its representation in the European Parliament through negotiations.

Germany: opinion poll favours expansion eastwards

A fresh public opinion poll in Germany has shown that most Germans are in favour of expanding the EU eastwards. Seventy four percent favour Hungary's bid for EU accession, sixty percent support Polish membership, and sixty one percent back the Czech Republic's candidacy. The poll shows, however, that the German public is not in favour of Turkey joining the Union, as only twenty eight percent said they were in favour of supporting Turkey's membership.

TV Nova: Bush had Czech ancestors

The Czech Republic's largest private television station, TV Nova, has broadcast a bizarre revelation about the new President-elect of the United States, George W. Bush Jr. According to TV Nova, Mr. Bush is a descendant of England's King Henry III, and as a result, his ancestors were related to the Czech Premyslid dynasty, and specifically King Vratislav II. The connection, the television station admits, is tenuous, as Mr. Bush is thirty four generations removed from Czech royalty, and consequently his blood is less than one percent Czech.

And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast

The weather in the Czech Republic on Sunday will be will be cold and cloudy. The day should see overcast skies with snow showers expected in places. The highest daytime temperatures should reach four degrees Celsius. The highest temperature during the night should be around one degree Celsius.