The Foreign Ministry has admitted that it gave permission for a plane carrying an illegal weapons' shipment to leave the Czech Republic, but says it was unaware it was bound for Eritrea. The weapons cargo, worth about 250,000 US dollars, was discovered on board the Ukrainian-registered plane last week in Sofia in Bulgaria en route to Eritrea, in breach of a UN and EU arms embargo. The plane is believed to have taken off from Northern Moravia. The Foreign Ministry admitted on Monday afternoon that it gave permission for the plane to take off in the belief that the weapons were bound for Georgia, and not for Eritrea. A ministry official said there was no way the Foreign Ministry would knowingly permit the transport of weapons to Eritrea.
The Czech Republic's negotiator for EU accession, Pavel Telicka, claims that a transition period for the free movement of labour in an expanded EU could have a negative influence on public opinion in candidate countries. There is widespread public concern in several EU member states, in particular Germany and Austria, over a possible influx of cheap labour from candidate countries after they join the EU. Some EU politicians have called for a transition period of up to seven years, during which time workers from candidate countries would be prevented from working in current member states. Mr. Telicka warned the EU on Monday that this is also a sensitive issue in candidate countries. The Czechs are due to go to the polls in 2002 in parliamentary elections, and Mr. Telicka believes that restrictions on workforce movement would be used by some parties as political capital.
On a related note, according to the results of the latest Eurobatometer research in the EU, the level of support for enlargement within member states has dropped by four percent to thirty four percent since last October.
A minor riot has broken out in a prison near Prague over the treatment of an inmate. The riot was apparently caused after the man had allegedly thrown a football full of drugs over the wall into the prison. The man was then arrested and placed in a special wing of the prison, where, according to prison authorities, he began screaming. Believing that he was being tortured, about a hundred prisoners began protesting violently against his treatment. A prison official said on Monday that the riot was brought under control swiftly, and that little damage had been caused to the prison.
The South Bohemian Daddies, an association that supports the Temelin nuclear power plant, have sent an open letter to American lawyer Ed Fagan, who is representing Austrian environmentalists against Temelin, in which they say that he has failed to provide any proof of his claims against Temelin. At the end of March the South Bohemian Daddies called on Mr. Fagan to prove his claims that Temelin was unsafe and would have a devastating effect on the environment within thirty days. In the open letter, the association says the deadline has come and gone, and Mr. Fagan has still not provided any proof.
And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast. Tuesday should see partially cloudy to clear skies, with temperatures soaring throughout the day to a pleasant high of twenty seven degrees Celsius. Night-time lows on Monday are expected to reach eight degrees Celsius. The weather on Wednesday and Thursday should continue sunny and warm, with a possibility of thunderstorms.
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