Scientists are to conduct tests to ascertain whether the Temelin nuclear power station in south Bohemia is to blame for a drought in the region. Local farmers say clouds of hot steam rising from Temelin's cooling towers are effectively chasing away rain clouds, leaving their land dry. The director of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute told the daily Pravo Tuesday they would compare data currently being gathered near the plant with long-term climate records.
Nobody is to face charges in connection with the flooding of the Prague metro system in August last year. A source told the CTK news agency on Tuesday that while police found a crime had been committed, they had not found the evidence needed to charge anybody. Some seven billion crowns worth of damage was done during the flooding, which knocked out parts of the metro system for several months.
Speaking at a meeting of Czech Army commanders at the Ministry of Defence, President Vaclav Klaus said reform of the country's defence forces should be carried out as soon as possible. Mr Klaus, who as president is the army's supreme commander, said it was necessary to find a balance between being able to defend the country and fulfilling the obligations that went with membership of NATO and other international organisations. The Czech Army is due to become fully professional by the beginning of 2005.
The presidents of the Visegrad Four group - the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia - have said their mutual co-operation makes sense and should continue even after all four join the European Union next year. The four presidents made the comments after Monday's Visegrad meeting in Budapest. The Czech President Vaclav Klaus, a fierce critic of the group in the past, explained that while he had always believed the four countries were very close, he had been concerned that past Visegrad Four meetings were not always productive.
Health Minister Marie Souckova has indicated she is less than enthusiastic over weekend results from the Czech Medical Chamber's conference, held in Brno. That meeting saw David Rath, the body's president, earn a confidence vote and retain his post, with Mr Rath receiving 156 votes in his favour and 72 against. All the same the conference was not without controversy: many delegates refused to take part in the vote on the grounds the conference had been manipulated. Meanwhile, speaking on Sunday the health minister said she respected Mr Rath's reconfirmation, but stressed she was unsettled by what she called "unresolved issues". One of Mrs Souckova's concerns, for example, is inappropriate finance management by the chamber's executive body. She cited the example of an outstanding 1.2 million crowns the chamber owes the country's tax bureau, a discrepancy that came to light after auditors began investigating the chamber's books. The case is currently being continued by a special commission as well as by the police.
Five countries have offered to sell the Czech Republic a used fleet of 14 supersonic fighter jets from their air force stocks. Sweden, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and the U.S. submitted offers Friday ahead of a deadline set by a Prague government commission. The Czech government decided to seek 14 used fighters from a fellow member of the NATO military alliance to replace the Czech Air Force's Russian-made MiG-21 jets, to be retired in 2005. The used jets will be meant to protect Czech air space until an all-new fleet can be bought over the next five to ten years. Meanwhile, under the current bids, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United States each offered to sell older F-16s, while Canada offered its FA-18 Hornets and Sweden Gripen jets. The government's negotiating commission will study the offers and could make a recommendation by the end of November.
President Vaclav Klaus has ended a three-day official visit to Russia, during which he met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, and was awarded an honorary degree. On Saturday both men agreed their meeting, the first of its kind in ten years, was the start of a new direction in Czech-Russian relations. The Russian president said that relations between the countries had improved and had a more solid character, saying questions over the Russian Federation's outstanding debt to the Czech Republic had been resolved. Also discussed were future visa requirements for visitors of both countries once the Czech Republic joins the European Union next year.
David Rath, aged 37, has been given a vote of confidence to remain the head of the Czech Medical Chamber, after delegates on Friday voted 156 in his favour, 72 against. Dozens of delegates, however, left the conference room while voting was taking place. The complaint: that the conference had been manipulated. A total of 320 delegates attended on the first day. Meanwhile, the chamber's executive committee was also given a vote of confidence earning a three-year mandate. David Rath dismissed accusations the conference had been manipulated. Instead he highlighted successes that had been reached, including the defence of specialist licences that had been challenged by the Chamber's audit commission. Still, Friday saw six hours of difficult deliberations with sharp exchanges of opinion amongst supporters and opponents of the current leadership. The conference continues on Sunday when Health Minister Marie Souckova is expected to attend.
Deputy Mayor and member of the right-of centre Civic Democrats Pavel Pavel has won the first round of supplementary elections to the Senate, gaining 28.43 percent of votes in the Strakonice region. The number of votes was not enough to secure a mandate which means the candidate will face his nearest opponent Josef Kalbac in one week's time. Mr Kalbac earned over 18 percent of the ballot on Saturday, just edging the Communist Party's Karel Rodin, in third.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has met in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. On Saturday the two men discussed improving Czech-Russian relations, with Mr Putin stressing the importance of reaching agreement on such points as the outstanding Russian debt to the Czech Republic, inherited from the former Soviet Union. Mr Putin pointed out that both Russia and the Czech Republic had a variety of common interests that remained to be discussed, with Mr Klaus welcoming the opportunity for "rational dialogue". Mr Klaus' visit to Russia is his second this year: in May, at Mr Putin's request, he and 40 other heads of state gathered in St Petersburg to celebrate the city's 300th anniversary. The Russian president is himself a St Petersburg native.
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