News Wednesday, SEPTEMBER 06th, 2000
Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Daniela Lazarova and we begin as usual with a look at the main news stories this hour.
Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail:
Fresh controversy over Temelin
In an ongoing dispute with the Czech Republic over nuclear safety, the Austrian Parliament has approved a resolution urging the Austrian government to block the Czech Republic's entry to the EU until it has received adequate nuclear safety guarantees regarding the Temelin nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of upper Austria have warned Prague that border check-point blockades and other forms of protest would continue unless the Czech authorities agree to postpone the launch of Temelin and discuss nuclear safety concerns.
In its response to these developments the Czech government has said Austria's protest actions would not influence its decision to make the nuclear power plant operational on schedule.
The EU has so far resisted pressure from Austria to link the Temelin issue to that of the Czech Republic's admission. Speaking to newsmen in Brussels on Tuesday, EU Commissioner Gunter Verheugen said that it was the Czech Republic's sovereign right to decide whether it wanted to employ nuclear power or not. The EU has no leverage in this matter except to demand that the plant fulfills the EU's strict nuclear safety norms, Verheugen said.
Freedom Union -Temelin
In a related development here in Prague , the right-of-centre Freedom Union has tabled a proposal for the Social Democrat Cabinet to present Parliament with one more nuclear safety report on Temelin before the plant is made operational. A spokesman for the Freedom Union said he hoped other Parliamentary parties would support the proposal in the interest of national safety. " Surely this is something both Temelin's opponents and supporters can agree on" the spokesman noted.
Telicka urges EU to speed up entry talks
The Czech Republic's chief EU negotiator Pavel Telicka said on Tuesday he hoped to speed up the pace of membership talks and called on the 15 nation block to set a target date to conclude them. "For us this is the right time to switch into a different gear" Telicka said in a speech to the Swedish Institute of International Affairs. He said the Czech Republic was keen to move the talks forward and address key issues including agriculture, environment and competition . France is to hand over the EU's rotating presidency to Sweden at the end of 2000 and the Czech Republic's chief EU negotiator expressed the hope that Sweden would give the talks new impetus.
President Havel in New York for UN summit
Czech President Vaclav Havel is in New York for the Millenium Summit of the United Nations. The conference has been hailed as the largest gathering of world leaders ever held, with more than 150 kings, presidents and generals present. The summit aims to clarify the UN's goals in reducing poverty, disease, war and environmental destruction in the 21st century.
Religious leaders ask the IMF and WB to help the developing world
In their own message to participants in the upcoming session of the IMF and World Bank here in Prague, the Association of Czech Christian Churches is organizing a collection in aid of third world countries. In a statement published by the CTK news agency the association has expressed sympathy for the philosophy of various anti-globalization protest groups while stressing that it is against their policy of confrontation. The country's religious leaders have appealed for a kinder social policy from IMF and World Bank officials calling on them to help improve living conditions, health care and education in the developing world. " If you lead the way, others will follow" reads their message to the IMF and World Bank.
Austrian compensation to Czechs forced-labourers
Austria is to pay Czechs who worked in the country as forced-labourers during the SWW 501 million shillings the equivalent of 1.3 billion Czech crowns. The bilateral agreement on compensation was initialed in Vienna on Tuesday, and according to the chief Czech mediator Jiri Sitler its terms are satisfactory. The agreement should be signed sometime in October and individual payments made before the end of the year.
Brezina in hospital
The twenty-eight year old Minister Without Portfolio Karel Brezina was rushed to Prague's Military Hospital with stomach pains on Tuesday morning. Brezina, who is the youngest member of the Social Democrat Cabinet, is said to be suffering from stomach ulcers and is expected to remain in hospital for at least a week. His press department said the health crisis had most likely been brought on by overwork.
Military training operation Blue line 2000
Czech and Slovak troops are to take part in a joint military training operation simulating the work of international peace-keeping forces. Operation Blue line 2000 is the biggest Czech-Slovak military operation since the break-up of the Czechoslovak federation in 1993. Two hundred Slovak soldiers from the country's elite rapid-deployment force are now stationed at a Czech army base near the town of Libava in preparation for the event. Operation Blue Line 2000 has been scheduled to begin on September 11th and over 1,300 soldiers are expected to take part. While the Czech Republic is now a NATO member state, neighbouring Slovakia is still striving to achieve that goal.
Finally, a look at the weather:
A cold front moving across the Czech Republic is expected to bring more cloudy skies and scattered showers on Wednesday. Day temps have been forecast at between 14 and 18 degs C. Nighttime lows at around 4 degs. C.