News Tuesday, OCTOBER 24th, 2000

By Libor Kubik

Czech ForMin to Vienna over Nazi compensation, Temelin

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan is in Vienna today. Together with officials from Austria, the United States, Russia and several east and central European countries, he will attend a ceremony to sign agreements on compensation for Nazi-era slave labourers.

Mr Kavan's other mission in Vienna is to prepare a meeting between the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Austria's Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, scheduled for October 31. The main item to be discussed is the controversial Czech nuclear plant at Temelin.

The plant's operator, the power company CEZ, has asked regulators for permission to boost Temelin's output. But the national nuclear safety office said Tenmelin had to run a new set of tests in order to obtain such permission.

The station has been conducting tests at very low levels of output since chain reactions were launched two weeks ago amid public protests in neighbouring Austria and a diplomatic row between Prague and Vienna.

Kostunica: Czechs can help improve Yugo-West ties

Federal Yugoslavia's new President Vojislav Kostunica says Czech diplomats can help improve ties between his country and Western Europe.

Speaking to reporters in Belgrade after a meeting with Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, Mr Kostunica said he was grateful to Prague for its support of Yugoslavia's return to European and global organisations.

Mr Kavan said his country supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yugoslavia. In a hint to Montenegrin and Kosovo attempts to gain independence, he said relevant UN resolutions should stay in force but Kosovo could win a broad autonomy.

PM foresees boosted Italy investment in six months

The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman says he expects Italy to increase its investments in his country ahead of privatisation of key elements of the Czech economy.

Mr Zeman, who is on a visit to Italy, said in Milan that concrete outcomes of his mission should begin to demonstrate themselves within six months' time.

He said his mission was to prepare the ground for foreign investment. Therefore, he had come to Italy at the head of a sizable delegation of Czech businessmen and industrialists.

Czechs expect improved EC report - Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has said the Czech Republic expects a much-improved report on its preparations for joining the European Union in the European Commission's annual report on enlargement next month.

The Commission's two previous reports criticised Prague for lagging on legislative reforms, sluggish economic restructuring, corrupts capital markets and poor human rights towards its sizable Roma minority.

But Mr Kavan said in an interview to Reuters that the Czech government had worked hard to repair the record. He said Prague should above all be recognised for progress in the legislative sphere, where parliament has changed 80 to 90 percent of the laws and norms criticised by the EC in last year's report.

Germany funds Czech project to clean up Elbe River

As part of ongoing efforts to clean up the river Elbe, Germany has said it is funding modernisation of sewage treatment plants in the Czech Republic.

Germany's environment ministry will contribute over nine million marks to modernise plants in the Czech border cities of Most and Teplice. The total cost of the projects is 24 million marks.

Water quality in the Elbe has so improved over the past decade that salmon are again being released to restore populations which died out 70 years ago.

Prince Charles to visit Czech Republic

Britain's Prince Charles is to visit the Czech Republic at the end of October at the invitation of President Vaclav Havel.

The Prince, who is a keen connoisseur of historical architecture and its preservation, will visit unique gardens surrounding the Prague Castle, renovated with the help of the foundation both men have set up.

Paralympics: Czechs win another two medals in Sydney

Sport now -- and Czech athletes won another two medals at the Sydney Paralympic Games in Australia.

Blind athlete Petr Novak win the silver medal in the 100 m sprint in T1 category in 11.71 seconds, losing 0.02 seconds on the winner Lorenzo Ricci of Italy.

And quadriplegic Pavel Sibrava sent his discus 13.6 metres away, winning the bronze medal.

Czech weather report

Tuesday's early morning lows will be a chilly zero to two Celsius above. The day will be cloudy, with scattered showers and afternoon highs between 12 and 16 degrees.

Wednesday morning will be foggy, with only sporadic precipitation and temperatures between two and six Celsius above freezing. Daytime highs between 10 and 14 degrees.

On Thursday, we expect a wet day with maximum afternoon temperatures between 12 and 16 Celsius.