Scientists in Britain have said that confirmation of a suspected case of BSE in the Czech Republic was a potential indicator that the epidemic in Europe is greater than was expected. They added that the Czech Republic may prove to be the first East European country to fall victim to a second wave of mad cow disease, meaning that it was a case where beef was not imported from the U.K. but from Germany or France. Meanwhile, the Czech Republic's veterinary authority said it expected there would be no more than a few dozen cases of mad cow disease among local cattle. The country is already battling a steep decline in beef consumption and was dealt another blow on Monday when Austria, Bulgaria, and Latvia declared that it was banning the import of all live cattle, beef and other related products from the Czech Republic.
The President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, said during a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday that the Irish government had assured him that there was no need to renegotiate the European Union's Nice Treaty, which was rejected by Irish voters in a referendum last week. Mr Prodi also said that the EU expected negotiations with EU candidates to be complete by the end of next year, which would make it possible for the best prepared candidates to take part in the European elections as fully fledged members in 2004. Mr Prodi was seeking to reassure candidate countries, including the Czech Republic, who have expressed their concern at Irelands rejection of EU reform - which must be approved before enlargement.
The former Interior Minister, Vaclav Grulich told journalists on Monday that, whilst in office, he knew of several cases where former collaborators with the Communist secret police, or the StB, were given positions in the Interior Ministry. Mr Grulich's statement has come in reaction to last week's discovery that more than 100 former StB agents are currently holding important government posts despite the fact that they had supposedly been screened between 1991 and 1993 to detect whether they had ever collaborated with the StB or held senior positions in the Communist Party. Mr Grulich said that he had kept quiet because he did not want to make accusations against his predecessor, Jan Ruml, who was Deputy Interior Minister at the time.
The former Foreign Minister, Josef Zieleniec has said that he disagreed with Foreign Minister Jan Kavan's approach to several issues regarding Czech-Austrian relations. Before his two-day trip to Austria, Mr Zieleniec, met with Mr Kavan on Monday to discuss the Czech Republic's stand on these issues and told journalists after the meeting that Mr Kavan had handled them too optimistically. Mr. Zieleniec said nuclear-free Austria's opposition to the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia, its opposition to the Benes Decrees - under which thousands of German-speaking citizens were expelled after WWII - and reservations to the free movement of labour after EU expansion were all contributing to strained relations, and if left unsolved, may eventually make the European integration process more difficult.
Some 40 Roma families from the Northern Bohemian town of Most are expected to have emigrated by the end of the month. According to Josef Sivak, the Chairman of the Roma Union in Most, these families intend to emigrate to Great Britain, Ireland, Spain and Australia, with the hope of finding better living conditions. Mr. Sivak said that the Roma community had trouble obtaining work in the region, and was therefore inclined to follow the footsteps of relatives and friends who have already left the Czech Republic. Most's authorities say, however, that many Roma can't get jobs because they lack the necessary education. They say that they are currently working on ways to make it more lucrative for businesses to employ educated people with a lower level of education. So far, the number of Roma from Most who have moved abroad totals around 100. One fifth, however, have since returned to the Czech Republic.
And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast. Overcast skies with occassional showers are expected to prevail throughout the week. Temperatures on Monday night shall range between 5 and 9 degrees Celsius. Tuesday will be cloudy with rain expected in North Bohemia and temperatures between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius. The same weather conditions go for Wednesday and Thursday although temperatures shall rise gradually to reach 24 degrees Celsius by Friday.
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