News Tuesday, OCTOBER 17th, 2000

By: Libor Kubik

Havel accepts justice chief's resignation

Czech President Vaclav Havel has accepted the resignation of the country's leading judicial reformer, Justice Minister Otakar Motejl, but also said that legal reform is unavoidable.

Mr Havel named Pavel Rychetsky, the deputy premier for legislation, as Motejl's temporary replacement. He will assume his post today.

Mr Rychetsky said he expects to hold the position only a few months until a permanent replacement can be found.

Mr Motejl decided to step down after becoming frustrated by parliament's refusal to pass his reform proposals, which were designed to harmonise the Czech legal system with the European Union.

Govt. to call tender for Air Force jets

The Czech government has agreed to call an international tender to give its air force supersonic jet fighters, replacing its obsolete, Soviet-built fleet.

The tender will be for multi-role tactical jets. Defence Minister Vladimir Vetchy told correspondents it will be called by the end of November, the winners should be known by the middle of next year.

Our correspondent says that American F-16s and F-18s are in the game, together with the Anglo-British Gripen and the French Mirage.

Czech ForMin due in Brussels for Temelin talks

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has said he will go to Brussels this week to hold talks with European Commission officials over Austrian protests against the Czech nuclear plant at Temelin.

Anti-nuclear Austria is angry that the Czech Republic started up the plant last week despite calls for further safety checks. Thousands of Austrian activists blockaded mutual border points last week and warned of more protests if Prague didn't allay their concerns.

The Czech government says Temelin meets EU standards and has called on the European Commission to intervene to stop the blockades.

Mr Kavan said he was flying to Brussels as a follow-up to his letter to EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen last week, when Prague formally requested consultations with the EC.

Klestil wants to lead Austrian-Czech relations out of crisis

Austria's Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel says he hopes to meet Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman in coming days to discuss the current rift between their countries over Temelin.

Meanwhile, Austria's President Thomas Klestil and Czech Lower House Speaker Vaclav Klaus said in Vienna they preferred direct talks to an EU intervention.

Minister, truckers at loggerheads over fuel price controls

Talks between Transport Minister Jaromir Schling and a Czech truckers' delegation on solving problems of road transport collapsed on Monday.

The minister rejected the truckers' demands for the state to impose price controls on petrol and diesel fuel or cut consumer taxes.

The truckers said a crisis team would get down to work at once, and threatened labour action unless progress was made at follow-up talks in ten days' time.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather:

After a cool start on Tuesday, with early morning lows between six and ten degrees Celsius, we're expecting a cloudy but relatively mild day with only scattered showers and afternoon highs between 14 and 18 degrees in Bohemia and 16 to 20 Celsius in the eastern parts of the country.

Wednesday's early morning lows will be between six and ten Celsius, some fog in the morning, too, and daytime highs between 14 and 18 degrees.