Czech Republic begins testing for BSE
The Czech Republic has begun testing all cattle over 30 months following the country's first confirmed case of BSE. The State Veterinary Authority has likewise issued an order for blanket testing of all cattle imported from countries where BSE has been confirmed. Home slaughter of cattle has been banned and inspectors are monitoring the situation at individual slaughter houses. For the time being BSE tests are being financed by the State Veterinary Authority but due to limited resources it has asked the government for help. The costs of BSE testing have been estimated at around 280 million crowns per year. Officials are still 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. The results, which should be made public on Thursday, are widely expected to confirm the earlier findings.
Sweden, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, has said it will not request a transition period for the free movement of labour following the Union's eastward expansion. Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh said that her country would not make use of an agreement under which individual EU member states will be allowed to negotiate a transition period on the free movement of labour with newcomers to the alliance. Sweden intends to give the newcomers the same privileges as those enjoyed by any other EU member state, Mrs Lindh told reporters, adding that she hoped others would follow Sweden's example. On Tuesday Hungary became the first ex-communist country to complete negotiations with the EU on this politically-sensitive issue. It accepted the transition period, subject to assurances from member states that they would show flexibility in applying them. It also sought and won the right to impose reciprocal restrictions on EU member states. The Czech Republic, which has been strongly opposed to the idea of a transition period as such, has said it will now focus on negotiating the best possible deal. The country's chief EU negotiator Pavel Telicka is planning to hold talks with representatives of all 15 EU member states in order to get a better idea of their opinions on the issue. We hope to see as many EU states as possible follow Sweden's example, the Czech foreign minister said on Tuesday.
President Havel has stressed the need to respect the Baltic republics' right to self-determination. Following a meeting with the visiting Latvian premier Andris Berzins, Mr Havel expressed support for the Baltic states' ambition to join NATO and the EU. He said Europe should open its doors to these states regardless of Russia's displeasure and that Europe's policy regarding the Baltic republics would be a litmus test of Europe's commitment to a new, democratic order on the Continent.
Senator Michael Zantovsky of the Civic Democratic Alliance has filed charges against participants in a recent Republican Youth demonstration in Bohumin, eastern Moravia, at which far-right activists chanted racist slogans. The Senator said he was basing his accusations on TV news footage in which a group of youths are seen chanting "A clean world, without tolerance. Don't give gypsies a chance". The incident took place in full view of police and the media. 160 Romanies living in Bohumin have filed a petition against the activities of the ultra right-wing group, saying they do not feel safe in their home town.
Wednesday should bring partly cloudy skies, scattered showers and day temps between 18 and 22 degs C. Thursday's and Friday's temperatures have been forecast at between 19 and 23 degs and we can expect more rain in places.
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