Zeman and Schuessel meet to discuss Temelin

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Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel met on Tuesday in the Moravian town of Zidlochovice, to discuss the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. Temelin has soured relations between the two countries in recent months, and Austrian protests against the plant culminated in border blockades when Temelin went on line in mid-October. The blockades brought border transport to a standstill, and led the two government leaders to meet, in an attempt to break the ice in relations. More from Lucie Krupickova:

The meeting ran into the early hours of Wednesday morning, and took place just a few hours after the Czech Nuclear Safety Office gave final permission to increase output at Temelin's first reactor, which has been running at low levels since it went on-line roughly two weeks ago.

Although no real compromise was reached, Zeman and Schussel did agree to hold further discussions on safety at the plant and to carry out an environmental impact study. They also agreed to establish a hotline that would enable members of both governments to remain in constant contact with each other over the issue of Temelin. At a press conference after the meeting, the Austrian Chancellor repeated his country's demand to stop test operations at Temelin for at least six months, until all disputes have been resolved. Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, however, said he could see no reason why Temelin should be closed at this point.

Mr. Zeman also repeated his criticism of the blockades of the Czech-Austrian border by Austrian environmentalists:

Opponents of Temelin are not satisfied with the results of the meeting. As Josef Puehringer from the Upper Austrian Initiative Against Nuclear Danger said, activists would therefore recommence blockades at some crossings from Thursday morning, and that these should last until Monday evening.

Prior to the meeting, Austrian Vice-chancellor Susanne Ries-Passer threatened that Austria would not sign the energy chapter required for Czech entry to the EU unless new safety checks were carried out. Chancellor Schussel, however, rejected the possibility of blocking Czech EU accession. But, he admitted that his cabinet is bound by a parliamentary ruling not to conclude the energy chapter, until concerns over Temelin are resolved.

Author: Lucie Krupičková
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