News Thursday, JULY 06th, 2000
Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel has asked the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman to help delay the launching of the controversial Temelin nuclear power station in South Bohemia, near the Austrian border. Its operator is to begin stoking nuclear fuel shortly although test-operation is still some weeks off.
Mr. Schuessel wrote in his letter to Zeman that large segments of Austrian population are worried by the imminent launch of the plant which many of them consider unsafe.
The Czech government had earlier indicated that Austria had no right to meddle with Czech affairs in a situation when bilateral relations were frozen over the presence of a far-right party in Austria's government.
Here in the Czech Republic, over 100,000 people have signed a petition demanding a referendum on the fate of Temelin.
Church rallies across the Czech Republic on Wednesday marked the anniversary of the arrival of two Slav missionaries to the Great Moravian Empire in the 9th century.
The learned brothers from Thessaloniki, St. Cyril and St. Methodius, are credited with introducing Christianity into Great Moravia. They translated Biblical and liturgical texts into the language of the old Slavs, adapted Greek script to Slav linguistic needs, wrote secular and church codes and established new trends in iconography, politics, diplomacy and economy.
The Czech Roman Catholic primate, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, celebrated mass in Velehrad, a pilgrimage shrine near Brno, highlighting the importance of the Cyril and Methodius tradition for modern-day life.
Similar celebrations were held also in neighbouring Slovakia, where pilgrims prayed for the life of President Rudolf Schuster, who is critically ill in an Austrian hospital.
More than half of the Czechs consider churches a vital part of society and over 70 percent believe that the church should be separated from the State. This according to a blitz opinion poll commissioned by public-service Czech Radio and Czech Television.
The STEM polling agency said on Wednesday that even people without confession had indicated they follow developments on the religious scene.
Cardinal Miloslav Vlk welcomed the results in an interview to Czech Radio. He said such outcomes were amazing after four decades of Communist rule.
The opposition Christian Democrats' leader Jan Kasal was in a traffic accident near Prague on Wednesday morning. Central Bohemian police said a 21-year-old woman had suffered serious injuries in the crash. Mr. Kasal himself was only slightly hurt.
The police said that Mr. Kasal, who was driving a parliamentary-issue car on a highway from Brno to Prague, had crashed into a car in front of him.
Mr. Kasal admitted full responsibility for the incident.
The Christian Democrats are members of a coalition of four right-of-centre parties opposed to the ruling Social Democrats and their power-sharing partners, the Civic Democrats.
The Czech Republic's chief EU entry negotiator Pavel Telicka has expressed hope that after the reform of EU institutions is concluded, possibly at a summit in Nice in December, the European Union will focus on the integration of new members.
Mr. Telicka said in Paris that concrete expectations presented by EU candidate states during the past six months had met with increasingly positive and informed reactions from the EU authorities concerned.
He said Prague should assess the French presidency of the EU on the basis of concrete results and not merely documents and political statements. France presides over the EU in the second half of this year.
The Czech Republic is in the 5+1 group of fast-track candidates for EU membership. No date of admission has been set as yet.
And we end as usual with a quick look at the weather.
On Thursday, we expect daytime highs between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius, scattered showers and morning mists in some localities.
I'm Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.