News Wednesday, MAY 19th, 1999

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail :

Britain has no immediate plans to impose visa regulations

In the wake of speculation that Britain is seriously considering introducing visa requirements for Czech nationals the British Home Office has issued a statement saying that such a step is not imminent. A spokesman for the Home Office said that the number of Czech Romanies seeking asylum in the country was being closely monitored and although the past few months had brought an increase in the number of asylum applications the Home Office did not consider the situation to be alarming. At present there is no call for introducing visas, the spokesman said. Since the start of the year 225 Czech Romanies have applied for political asylum status in Britain, but British authorities are convinced that the majority are simply seeking better living conditions.

Austria's Greens say the fight to halt Temelin is not over

Austria's Greens have made it clear that the fight to halt the construction of the Temelin nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia is not over. Member of the Green party Brigit Weinzinger told the ctk news agency the party would seek to unite all anti-nuclear powers in Austria and the Czech Republic to fight the Czech government's decision on every possible front. Their plans include widespread protest actions, eliciting support from the EU, which the Czech Republic wants to become member of, and getting the Austrian government to offer lucrative financial support for an alternative energy solution. The Austrian minister for nuclear safety Barbara Prammer has suggested that Temelin should be appraised in the light of German nuclear safety norms, which are known to be the among strictest in Europe.

Samaranch defies resignation calls

In Prague to attend celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the Czech Olympic Committee Antonio Samaranch dismissed calls for him to resign from the post of president of the International Olympics Committee, saying he intended to complete his term in office. I won the confidence of members at the IOC session in March so I feel entitled to serve my full term until the year 2001 Samaranch told reporters. The IOC has reeled under a bribery scandal over Salt Lake City's bid to host the 2002 Winter Games and there have been calls from a number of politicians and athletes for Samaranch to accept moral responsibility and resign from his post.

Yugoslav ambassador slams NATO

Speaking at a press conference in Prague on Tuesday the Yugoslav ambassador to the Czech Republic Dojko Stojcic slammed what he called NATO aggression against his homeland, saying his country was subjected to terror and destruction and calling for a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Stojcic reiterated the Yugoslav stand that the country's leadership was prepared to discuss the peace initiative of the Group of eight on condition that NATO stopped its bombing campaign. He reminded Czechs of the traditionally close ties between the two countries and expressed appreciation of the voices raised in protest of the bombings. Meanwhile, speaking in Ostrava , US ambassador to Prague John Shattuck described the Czech Republic as a strong and reliable NATO member which had met its obligations to the alliance. He said the Czech Republic had shown itself to be active in negotiations and generous in taking in a large number of Kosovo refugees.

Czechs will try to make up for lost time

The Czech government has approved a series of measures aimed at speeding up preparations for EU membership. The country has been criticized by EU officials for dragging its feet on the set compatibility requirements, the delay ranging from weeks to months in certain sectors.

Czech deputy foreign minister Pavel Telicka expressed the hope that these measures would help the Czech Republic catch up. For instance rather than focussing on a deadline by which a proposal had to be put to Cabinet, there will be deadlines for the Cabinet's approval of a certain package of proposed changes. Also Telicka said there had been cases when ministers had requested postponements of a set deadline without a satisfactory explanation. That, he said ,would no longer be acceptable.

Kavan seeks closer ties with South Korea

Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan is on a three day official visit to South Korea aimed at strengthening relations and expanding trade. The two countries established diplomatic relations a few months after the fall of communism in 1989 and experts suggests there is untapped potential in the spheres of trade and investments. The Czech foreign minister is to be received by President Kim Te Dzung and meet with several cabinet members including the ministers of foreign affairs, industry and trade.

Finally a look at the weather:

Wednesday is expected to be a bright and sunny day across most of the Czech Republic with afternoon highs between 19 and 23 degs C. And I am happy to say we can look forward to more of the same on Thursday and Friday when day temps are expected to climb one or two degs higher. Nighttime lows between 10 and 6 degs C.