The Czech Agriculture Ministry has announced it is to begin testing all cattle over 30 months following the country's first confirmed case of BSE, the first outside Western Europe. Officials are now waiting for the results of a German test on a sample of tissue from a six-year-old cow, following two positive tests in the Czech Republic. Meanwhile Austria has banned all imports of Czech beef, following in the footsteps of Slovakia, Lithuania and Poland, while Hungary has announced that it will restrict imports of Czech beef to meat that has been tested for BSE. EU officials have expressed their regret over the confirmation of the test results, but say it will have no impact on EU policy towards the Czech Republic. Earlier the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman said the positive test was an unpleasant development, but added there was no reason to panic.
The Czech Republic and other candidates for membership of the European Union have said they are disappointed but determined to carry on following the shock defeat of the Irish referendum on EU enlargement. The people of Ireland rejected the Nice Treaty on EU reform by 54 percent to 46 on Friday, in a poll marked by low turnout. Ireland is the only country required by law to hold a referendum on EU reform. The Nice Treaty, which paves the way for the entry of 12 new members, must be ratified by all 15 EU states. EU officials have sought to put a brave face on the surprise defeat, saying the enlargement process will go ahead regardless. But the timing of the rejection is deeply embarrassing for the EU, whose leaders meet late next week in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. The Czech President Vaclav Havel has been quoted as saying that if the referendum derails the European enlargement process, it will be suicide for Europe.
The Czech Culture Minister Pavel Dostal has called on the present-day Communist Party to distance itself from a controversial pardon from the 1950s. Officials in Prague announced on Friday that Communist President Antonin Zapotocky secretly pardoned several Nazi war criminals after the war, one of whom - Max Rostock - played a key role in razing the village of Lidice, in retaliation for the assassination of Reichsprotektor Reinhardt Heydrich in June 1942. In one of the most brutal acts of the Second World War, 173 men - almost Lidice's entire male population - were rounded up and shot by the SS. Three days later, most of the town's women and children were transported to concentration camps where most of them died. Speaking at a ceremony in Lidice on Sunday, Mr Dostal said today's Communist Party - which has refused to apologise for crimes committed under the former regime - could not remain silent over the pardon.
The Prime Minister Milos Zeman has used a visit to the Czech Army's 7th Reconnaissance Unit in Kosovo to announce his intention to strengthen the Czech contribution to the K-FOR peacekeeping mission from the beginning of next year. The Czech presence in Kosovo could increase from the present 170 soldiers to 400, with 100 Slovak soldiers serving alongside them in a joint unit. The Defence Ministry has said the Czech Republic should gradually withdraw from Bosnia's S-FOR mission, and concentrate exclusively on Kosovo. After visiting Kosovo Mr Zeman and the new Defence Minister Jaroslav Trvdik flew to Bosnia, to visit Czech troops serving in S-FOR.
President Havel has invited the Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica to visit the Czech Republic, following talks between the two men at a summit of Central European presidents in the Italian city of Verbania. A spokesman said the two men had discussed the situation in the Balkans and improving Czech-Yugoslav relations. The two countries enjoyed close ties under Communism, and the former Yugoslavia was a popular holiday destination for Czech tourists. Relations suffered however during the Kosovo conflict, when the Czech Republic - a fresh member of NATO - endorsed the alliance's bombing of Yugoslavia.
Police in Prague say they have broken up a gang trading women as prostitutes, arresting six men in night-time raids in South Bohemia. A spokesman said a police officer from the town of Cesky Krumlov was among those arrested. Police also detained 14 girls from Ukraine and Slovakia, some of them underage. A spokesman said the girls were forced to work as prostitutes in local sex clubs.
And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast. Monday night will remain cloudy with scattered showers and rain in places. There's more overcast and rainy weather forecast for Tuesday, with daytime temperatures again not expected to rise above 18 degrees Celsius.
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