The drawn-out Czech-Austrian dispute over the Temelin nuclear power plant in south Bohemia, located just sixty kilometers from the Austrian border, took a new turn over the weekend when the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Muhammad El Baradei threw his weight fully behind the Czech Republic. In an interview for Monday's edition of the Austrian paper Profil Mr. El Baradei said that Temelin posed no danger to the environment and indicated that the plant's opponents in Austria were obsessed with its existence rather than concerned about
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said on Wednesday that he did not think it wise to seek a "third party" who would act as judge in the Czech Austrian dispute over the Temelin nuclear power plant. Mr. Schwarzenberg was reacting to a suggestion made by Austrian deputy Albrech Konecny who said on Monday it might be a good idea to let a third party, possibly the EU, decide who was right in the Czech-Austrian dispute over Temelin, because the two sides were clearly unable to reach agreement. The Czech foreign minister said that while he was not in favour of turning the matter over to a "third party" he thought consultations with foreign nuclear experts could be helpful.
The planned enlargement of the Schengen border free zone on January 1st of 2008 has evoked concerns on both sides of the Czech-Austrian border, says Tuesday's edition of Lidove Noviny. While Austria fears growing crime, the mayors of some Czech border municipalities are afraid of the growing amount of illegal imports of foreign waste. Villages in the vicinity of Kaplice now have to dispose of tons of waste in the nearby forests and along the roads that are evidently brought there by Austrian tourists, the paper says. On the other hand, the mayors welcome the introduction of joint Czech-Austrian police patrols within which Austrian policemen can operate in Czech border regions and vice-versa.
Attacking Czechs is the national sport in Austria, the Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, said in an interview in Sunday's edition of Austria's Kurier. Mr Schwarzenberg told the newspaper he had no understanding of Austrian worries about the Czech Temelin nuclear power station, which he said was safer than reactors in Germany. He added that Austrians should reflect on how much of the energy their state imports is produced by nuclear reactors. Minister Schwarzenberg said Austrians and Czechs were in the habit of arguing in the style of close family members, and that attacking Czechs had become the national sport in Austria. Vienna has frequently called for Temelin to be closed down, saying it is unsafe.
Around a dozen followers of the Czech rightist National Party blocked the Czech-Austrian border crossing Wullowitz-Dolni Dvoriste on Saturday morning, not allowing vehicles with Austrian licence plates to enter the Czech Republic. The nationalists' protest is a reply to the frequent blockades of Czech-Austrian border crossings by Austrian opponents of the Czech Temelin nuclear power plant. The protest had been deliberately timed for Saturday morning when many Austrians drive to the Czech Republic for shopping. The activists said the protest is to highlight what they call "Austria's interference into Czech affairs and the reluctance of the Czech government to take immediate steps". Austrian activists say Temelin, situated some 60 km from the Austrian border, is not safe and that the Czech Republic breaches agreements the two countries signed on the plant.
Prague and Vienna are on relatively good terms but there is one issue that has been causing friction for almost a decade and I'm afraid it's an issue that will be very hard to solve. Nuclear free Austria fears that the Temelin nuclear power plant in south Bohemia - which is some 50 km away from the border with Austria - is dangerous and puts its citizens at risk. The Czechs, on the other hand, say their plant is safe and follows all safety precautions by the book.
The dispute surrounding the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia is very much back on the agenda. Last week Austrian anti-nuclear demonstrators blockaded a number of border crossings, the latest in a series of protests. They say they will close down the entire border if the Austrian government fails to file an international lawsuit against the Czech Republic over Temelin. This week Vienna sent a diplomatic note to Prague, protesting at what Austria claims is the Czechs' failure to comply with the 2000 Melk Agreement on safety at Temelin.
At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg took time off from the official talks to try and resolve a drawn-out bilateral problem with neighboring Austria. In a private meeting with his Austrian counterpart, Ursula Plassnik, Mr. Schwarzenberg said that Czech patience with continuing Austrian border blockades by anti-nuclear activists was running thin. He warned that if Austrian opponents of the Temelin nuclear power plant continued to restrict free movement at the Czech -Austrian border
Anti-nuclear activists from neighbouring Austria again blocked 12 out of
the 16 border crossings between the Czech Republic and Austria for two
hours on Friday afternoon. The protesters want the Austrian government to
file an international lawsuit against the Czech Republic over an alleged
breach of agreements on the safety of the Czech nuclear power station
Temelin. The last such protests took place two weeks ago when the
activists blocked 10 border crossings.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said on Thursday he would discuss the matter with his Austrian counterpart Ursula Plassnik, most likely at a meeting of EU foreign ministers. Czech officials have repeatedly said the blockades amount to breach free movement of persons - one of the fundamental freedoms granted by the EU.
Communist party leader Vojtech Filip has suggested that the Czech government should complain to the European Commission about the repeated blockades of Czech-Austrian borders by Austrian anti-nuclear activists. Filip said that by blocking border crossings critics of the Temelin nuclear power plant violate one of the basic European rights - that of free movement. Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek immediately rejected the suggestion, saying that lodging a complaint would only escalate tension between the Czech Republic and Austria. "If we thought that this was a solution, we would have lodged it long ago," Topolanek told journalists.