The Czech Environment Minister Milos Kuzvart has welcomed the completion of the environment chapter in negotiations with the European Union. The Czech Republic originally requested seven transition periods but there will eventually only be two. The Czech Republic promised to comply with the demand to recycle a minimum of 30 percent of waste by 2005, and the other transition period concerns the construction of water treatment facilities in municipalities with a population of at least 2000 people, and will last until 2010. Mr Kuzvart said he was convinced that due to the EU accession process, the Czech Republic had adopted environmental protection laws it would not have otherwise implemented.
The opposition Christian Democrats have accused the ruling Social Democratic Party of politicising the state administration. Christian Democrat leader Cyril Svoboda also accused the Social Democrats of failing to respect the results of regular selection procedures. He said that he would demand an official explanation for cases when a member of the Social Democrats was eventually given priority although a member of a different party won a selection procedure for a position in the state administration.
The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan is visiting Syria to renew formerly good relations between the two countries. On Monday, Mr Kavan met his Syrian counterpart Farouk al-Sharaa and president Bashar Assad. The main aim of Mr Kavan's visit is to promote business, political as well as cultural relations. According to Mr Kavan, Czech companies are interested in returning to Syria and participating in the modernisation of the country. The main obstacle to co-operation between the two countries is the large Syrian debt to the Czech Republic. While Syria recognised the Czech Republic in 1993 after the split of Czechoslovakia, it did not recognise its liabilities towards the Czechoslovak Federation.
A local branch of Amnesty International in the city of Brno has collected around 2000 signatures under a petition demanding that the Chinese political prisoner and dissident Su Wen-li be released from jail. The petition will be sent to Chinese representatives and the organisers will ask for a meeting with the Chinese ambassador to the Czech Republic. Every local office of Amnesty International adopts one prisoner of conscience and organises campaigns to help release them from jail and watches their fate. Su Wen-li was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 1998 for subversion. Amnesty International claims that the trial was orchestrated by the authorities and that the dissident was not given the chance to defend himself.
The two largest gas companies in Europe, France's Gaz de France and Germany's Ruhrgas, have reportedly expressed serious interest in the privatisation of Czech gas distribution companies. Reports in the Czech media claim that Gaz de France have held talks with Czech Prime Minster Milos Zeman and Industry and Trade Minister Miroslav Gregr. Both Gaz de France and Ruhrgas have good trade relations with Russia§s Gazprom. Czech analysts expect the joint offer by Gaz de France and Ruhrgas to be so attractive to the government that other bidders will not have a chance.
Czech stock brokers expect share prices at the Prague Stock Exchange to stagnate or rise only mildly in June after relatively high rises in May. In a survey by the CTK news agency, analysts see the highest growth potential for the stocks of state-owned companies in the final stage before privatisation, such as the bank Komercni banka and Czech wireless communications operator, Ceske Radiokomunikace. On Monday, the Prague Stock Exchange reported nearly zero demand for Czech stocks.
And finally, the weather forecast. We are a partially cloudy day today with scattered showers, afternoon highs should range from 13 to 17 degrees Celsius. Wednesday and Thursday should be a little warmer, but also rather cloudy with occasional showers, with the highest daytime temperatures of between 17 and 21 degrees Celsius.
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