News Sunday, OCTOBER 15th, 2000

By: Rob Cameron

Austrian protestors ease blockade, but more to come on Sunday

Austrian anti-nuclear protestors have begun easing their blockade of the Czech border, but say more blockades will begin again on Sunday. Thousands of protestors blocked all 15 border crossings with the Czech Republic on Friday, the fifth consecutive day of demonstrations against the launch of the Temelin nuclear power plant, which lies just 50 km from the Austrian border. The biggest blockade, at the Wullowitz border crossing, was attended by the Governor of Corinthia and former leader of the far-right Freedom Party, Joerg Haider. Local children have been allowed off school to attend the demonstrations

Austria bans imports of Czech electricity

Meanwhile the Austrian Economics Minister Martin Bartenstein has announced an immediate ban on imports of Czech electricity, a move which he described as a "strong signal" to the Czech government, which has ignored Austria's calls for the plant to undergo further safety checks. The dispute over Temelin has soured relations between anti-nuclear Austria and the Czech Republic. The Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel called for new Europe-wide standards on nuclear power at this weekend's European Union summit in Biarritz. The Austrian government has threatened to block the Czech Republic's membership of the EU, but observers say the already-isolated Austria has little hope of winning support in the Union for vetoing Czech membership.

Visegrad Four see 'new mood' in EU membership

The prime ministers of four Central European countries have said there are increasing signs that EU enlargement will begin in 2003. The prime ministers of the Visegrad Four, consisting of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, held an informal meeting on Friday in the Czech city of Karlovy Vary. They said there was a new mood of optimism following remarks by the EU's Commissioner for Enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, who said earlier this week that a new EU report would show that several countries were capable of completing entry negotiations by 2002, making accession in 2003 possible. The Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, said he shared his colleagues' optimism, but added that candidate countries would probably not receive a firm date at December's EU summit in Nice. He said a final timetable should be ready, however, during the Swedish presidency of the EU in the first half of 2001.

Court sentences football fans for attack on train

A court in the North Moravian city of Ostrava has sentenced nine football fans to a total of 27 years in prison for an attack on a train last year in which a woman was seriously injured. The court found that the nine youths had thrown a number of missiles at the train, which was carrying rival football fans. One of the rocks thrown at the train hit a 33-year-old woman, who is now partially blind and confined to a wheelchair. The youths have appealed 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 for several decades.


And finally, the weather forecast. The weather over the weekend in the Czech Republic should bring partially cloudy skies and scattered showers, especially in the east. The highest daytime temperatures should reach 20 degrees on Saturday, and 22 on Sunday. Temperatures during the night should reach a maximum of 14 degrees Celsius on Saturday and 12 on Sunday.