News Wednesday, JULY 12th, 2000

EU Enlargement Commissioner warns against postponing enlargement

The EU Enlargement Commissioner Gunther Verheugen has warned that rumours of postponing eastward enlargement threaten stability in candidate countries and cited the Czech Republic as one such example. Mr Verheugen pointed to the anti-EU statements of the former Prime Minister and current parliamentary chairman Vaclav Klaus and said coupled with rumours of postponement dangerous consequences could arise.

In wake of Austrian earthquake environmentalists voice concern over Temelin

In the wake of an earthquake in Eastern Austria that reached parts of southern Bohemia, environmentalists on both sides of the border have voiced concern over dangers posed to the Temelin nuclear plant . A group in Upper Austria has called for the reassessment of seismic risk at the nuclear facility. The estimates of Czech and Austrian authorities of this risk differ. Czech environmentalists of the Hnuti Duha movement have planned a protest directly outside of the plant, where nuclear fuel has been arriving since July 5. The Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel is due to discuss the Temelin issue when he meets with members of the European Commission in Brussels.

President Havel says force may be necessary to resolve Yugoslav conflict

President Havel has said that a show of force is an alternative that must be considered along with political action in the resolution of the most recent Balkan conflict being played out in Montenegro. The President made the statement as a representative of NATO countries at a meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia, with the heads of state of Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. The meeting was held to discuss the current situation in Yugoslavia. Montenegro has recently irked Serbian authorities by refusing to accept changes to the constitution passed by the federal Yugoslav Parliament. The changes, passed last Thursday, limit Montenegro's rights and enable Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to serve two more terms.

European Commission prefers joint Czech and Slovak EU entry

The EU Enlargement Commissioner Gunther Verheugen has stated that the European Commission would prefer if the Czech Republic and Slovakia became members of the European Union at the same time. The Commissioner made the statement at a session of the European Parliament at which the Parliament's proposal on Slovakia was discussed. Mr Verheugen stressed that the Commission did not expect the Czech Republic to wait for Slovakia to catch up, but that the Commission would focus on bringing Slovakia up to speed.

Austrian EU enlargement commissioner meets with Czech authorities

The Austrian EU enlargement commissioner, Erhard Busek, has said that his government supports the early eastward enlargement of the European Union and does not intend to postpone the process. Mr. Busek's comments came after a meeting with the Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, and the Chief Czech Negotiator on EU issues, Pavel Telicka, in Prague. Mr Telicka and Mr Busek have agreed that Czech and Austrian diplomats and experts will focus on resolving bilateral issues, including the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia.

MPs fail to elect first Czech ombudsman

MPs in the Lower House have again failed to elect the first Czech ombudsman in a second round of secret-ballot voting. The launching of the post will thus be delayed by several months, as President Havel and the Senate must now propose four new candidates.

Plzen police break up international heroin ring

An anti-drugs police squad in the city of Plzen has allegedly broken up a heroin ring operating in Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In an operation code-named Armageddon, Plzen police and customs officers have arrested two male Yugoslav citizens, aged 40 and 32, suspected of organising the international sale of heroin. The two men have been charged with the prohibited production and possession of drugs and could face up to 15 years in prison.

Social Democratic senators not to support Belarus resolution

The Senators of the Social Democratic Party will not support a proposed resolution condemning the current regime of Alexander Lukasenko in Belarus. The resolution was proposed by Civil Democratic Alliance senator Michal Zantovsky and Freedom Union senator Jan Ruml, following their visit to the former Soviet republic in April. The chairmen of the Christian Democratic and Civic Democratic parties in the Senate have both stated that their senators will support the resolution, which will be voted on in the Upper House later today.

Incidence of tuberculosis drops

The number of new cases of tuberculosis in the Czech Republic has dropped for the first time in ten years. 1,631 new cases, or roughly 16 cases for every 100,000 inhabitants, were reported last year, with a total of 79 deaths. The greatest number of cases was found in Prague and west Bohemia.

Prison letters of President Havel on display

And the prison letters of President Havel, which he wrote between 1979 and 1983 to his first wife Olga while serving a sentence for his dissident activities, have gone on public display this week to mark what would have been the 70th birthday of the former First Lady. The letters, which were donated by President Havel along with the shoe box Mrs Havel kept them in in 1998, will be on display in the National Literature Archive until the end of August.


And we end with a brief look at the weather. Skies will be cloudy with scattered showers in some regions. Day temperatures will range between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius, dropping to lows of 6 degrees at night.