The Austrian governing-coalition Freedom Party and opposition Social Democrats have criticised statements made by the head of the Czech Nuclear Safety Office, Dana Drabova. Mrs Drabova said in a newspaper interview that when the second reactor at the Czech Temelin nuclear power station goes into test operation, faults could be discovered and the reactor could be quickly shut down. A series of faults have seen the first reactor at the plant shut down on numerous occasions since the launch of the plant began in October 2000. Many in neighbouring Austria and Germany are opposed to Temelin, which they say is unsafe.
The leader of the governing Social Democrats, Vladimir Spidla, said his party would not be prepared to form a coalition with the Communist Party or the Civic Democrats after the upcoming general elections. Speaking on a television debate programme with the leader of the Civic Democrats, Vaclav Klaus, Mr Spidla said he would consider forming a minority government if necessary. With the elections due to take place on June 14 and 15, opinion polls are putting the Social Democrats a few points behind the Civic Democrats.
President Vaclav Havel has expressed his disquiet over recent statements made by Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Labour and Social Affairs Minister Vladimir Spidla about the post-war expulsion of Czechoslovakia's ethnic German minority. Mr Havel said in an interview on the German television station ARD that while he was in favour of calm reflection on the issue, it was dangerous to inject passion into the debate. Mr Zeman recently said that Czechoslovakia's German minority had wanted to join the 'reich' and that is what they had done, while Mr Spidla said that the expulsion had been a source of peace in the post-war period.
Mr Havel met the Austrian President Thomas Klestil at a meeting of presidents from Central and Eastern Europe in Slovenia on Saturday. The APA news agency reported that Mr Klestil had called for a "political or legislative declaration" to abrogate the Benes decrees, which sanctioned the post-war expulsion of Germans. He and Mr Havel agreed to meet again in south Moravia in September.
By Czech accounting standards CAS Czech Airlines suffered losses of 456 million crowns in the year 2001, while the International Accounting Standards indicate that the carriers profits fell by 57 percent from the previous year. The losses come in reaction to last year's September 11th terrorist attacks, and the international airline crisis that ensued. CSA's yearly profits for 2001 totalled 260 million crowns, or almost 8 million dollars US.
Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and the president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Thomas Dine have met to discuss alternative locations for the U.S.-funded radio station, although both declined to comment on possible sites for the new headquarters just yet. They are waiting to first present a plan to the State Security Office on June 25th. On Thursday Radio Free Europe spokeswoman Sonia Winter indicated that both sides were close to an agreement that would determine a new and safer location for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, than the current headquarters at the top of Prague's busy St Wenceslas Square. RFE / Radio Liberty have been under guard, first by army and now by police units, ever since the September 11th attacks on the U.S. last year.
French conductor Christoph Eschenbach, who was originally meant to conduct the last two concerts at the close of this year's Prague Spring Festival, will not appear due to injury. Earlier this week Mr Eschenbach suffered an injury to his arm, on which he has was operated several months ago. Mr Eschenbach will be replaced by Austrian conductor Has Graf, who will conduct the Czech Philharmonic in a performance of Beethoven's 9th symphony, the traditional close to the Prague Spring music festival.
The mayor of Prague, Jan Kasl, has said the timing of his resignation from the post was in no way related to the upcoming general elections. Mr Kasl announced his resignation on Tuesday, and also said that he was quitting the opposition Civic Democratic Party. He has had several high profile disputes with senior Civic Democrats, including party leader Vaclav Klaus, who called Mr Kasl's resignation a devious move. On Wednesday Prague Civic Democrat councillors accused Mr Kasl of timing his resignation in such a way as to harm the party and Mr Klaus ahead of the mid-June elections.
The human rights group Amnesty International has criticised the Czech Republic for failing to properly investigate claims of police brutality and not providing sufficient protection for members of the Roma minority. In its annual report released on Tuesday, Amnesty said allegations of police brutality during the September 2000 IMF/World Bank meeting in Prague were not investigated properly by the Czech authorities. The Czech courts were also singled out for failing to punish racially-motivated crimes with sufficient sentences.
The mayor of Prague, Jan Kasl, has resigned, and says he no longer wishes to be a member of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats. Mr Kasl, who claimed recently that the city council was riddled with corruption, told reporters he no longer wished to share in the responsibility of running the capital, and said he would quit the post on Wednesday. Mr Kasl has at times been an outspoken critic of the Civic Democrat leader, Vaclav Klaus. His resignation comes less than three weeks before the general elections.
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