News Thursday, JULY 27th, 2000

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By Rob Cameron

British Foreign Secretary reiterates support for early EU accession date

The British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has reiterated Britain's support for a concrete date for EU enlargement. Speaking after talks in Prague with his Czech counterpart Jan Kavan, Mr Cook said the time had now come for Brussels to give the Czech Republic and other candidates for membership a concrete target date for accession. 'Deadlines can concentrate minds,' he told a news conference, adding that candidates must be judged individually on whether they're ready to join the Union. He said countries such as the Czech Republic must redouble their efforts at reform, but stressed that the EU should be 'fair, realistic and generous' in further accession talks. He refused to say, however, whether the EU would give candidates a target date at the Nice summit in December. Brussels has so far resisted calls for a target date to be set.

Government rejects parliament proposal for Temelin referendum

The government has rejected calls by parliament for a referendum on putting the recently-completed Temelin nuclear power station into operation. A government spokesman said the cabinet respected the public's right to decide on matters of national importance, but in the case of Temelin a referendum was unacceptable. Opponents of the plant, recently completed at a cost of almost 100 billions crowns, have gathered more than one hundred thousand signatures calling for a referendum. Workers have recently completed the loading of fuel rods into the plant's first reactor, paving the way for putting Temelin into operation by the autumn.

Man charged for propagating Communist 'class hatred'

Police say a man has been charged under legislation making the propagation of Communist ideology a criminal offence. The editor-in-chief of an Internet newspaper was charged with propagating movements which supported the suppression of human rights and freedoms, an offence which now includes communism. A police spokeswoman said an article in the newspaper promoted class hatred. The new legislation, proposed by the right-wing opposition, has been heavily criticised by parties on the left. The ruling Social Democrats themselves are members of the Socialist International, along with Germany's Social Democrats and Britain's Labour Party.

Tigrid receives highest German state decoration

The former Czech Culture Minister Pavel Tigrid has been decorated with Germany's highest honour, the Great Cross with a Star, for his contribution to Czech-German reconciliation. Mr Tigrid, a former dissident who fled to Germany after the Communist takeover in 1948, was awarded the decoration by the German ambassador Hagen Lambsdorff at a ceremony in Prague. Mr Tigrid was commended for his work in the Czech-German discussion forum, set up under the 1997 Czech-German reconciliation agreement.

Environment Ministry gives go-ahead for bear hunt

The environment ministry has given permission for the capture of a wild bear currently causing havoc in the Beskydy mountains. A local forest ranger told reporters that the forestry commission was now assembling a team of zoologists and forestry rangers to track down and capture the bear, which has been menacing farms in the area since May. The forest ranger said the latest incident came on Tuesday, when the bear killed a number of turkeys and destroyed a beehive.

Weather

And finally a quick look at Thursday's weather forecast. It will be another warm and mostly cloudy day, with scattered showers and storms in places. Daytime temperatures will reach a maximum of 25 degrees Celsius.

I'm Rob Cameron and that's the news.