In this week's Insight Central Europe - the European Union voices grave concerns about drug use in the 10 candidate countries; we visit a methadone substitution clinic in Prague and speak to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction for a region-wide view. Poland signs a US$3.5 billion contract for F-16 jet fighters - the biggest defence deal by a former Warsaw Pact member - as America reveals plans to establish a military base in Slovenia. And also this week, the authorities in Hungary admit an incident at the Paks nuclear power
Police and customs officers in western Bohemia have arrested ten people, including eight foreign nationals and two Czechs, who were allegedly involved in the large-scale smuggling of heroin from the Balkans to Germany. The group had been monitored by a special police and customs team since last August. A total of 8.5 kilograms of heroin was seized during the operation. All those arrested have been taken into custody and if convicted, could face up to 15 years in prison.
Two weeks ago the Czech racing driver Tomas Enge must have been feeling on top of the world, when he achieved the greatest success of his career by winning the Formula 3000 world championship. Now, however, Mr Enge has been stripped of his title, and his motor racing career may never recover. The reason - a drug test which revealed the prescence of cannabis in his blood.
Czech police have charged the manager of a night-club in Ostrava's Stodolni street with drug trafficking, saying he dealt in marijuana and hard drugs and sold narcotics directly on the premises and on the street. The man's wife is the owner of the club. Police say additional suspects may be charged in connection with the case in the coming days. If found guilty the accused, who is thirty-three-years-old, faces up to 10 years in prison. Stodolni street and its vicinity in the town of Ostrava, in the eastern part of the country, boasts about six dozen clubs, bars and restaurants; it is estimated that about 12,000 locals gather there at the weekends, making the area lucrative for illegal drugs trafficking.
An agreement between the Czech Republic and Thailand took effect on Tuesday, on the mutual exchange of prisoners serving time in the two countries' jails. For two Czechs convicted of smuggling drugs in Thailand, the new agreement is a ray of hope, offering them the chance of seeing their homeland again. Rob Cameron reports.
When I go to see my parents, I pass a house, where a window on the second floor is always open, loud music is pouring out and flower pots with typical marihuana leaves are immediately obvious. It's also evident that visits to that flat are frequent, and its residents do not try to conceal that they and their guests gather to smoke joints.
Although two years ago parliament moved to tighten the country's drugs law, there has been no significant drop either in the number of addicts or the number of youngsters experimenting with drugs. According to extensive opinion surveys conducted among teenagers, 60 to 80% of all Czech youngsters have tried drugs by the time they reach eighteen. A sound knowledge of how various drugs work may save their lives, prevent them from becoming heavily addicted and keep them away from the cheapest and most dangerous substances which 12-year- olds can simply pick up at their local hardware store. Find out more in this week's Magazine with .