During his 4-day visit to the United States, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan told the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that the United Nations should head the anti-terrorist coalition that was created because of the recent terrorist attacks on the United States. Mr. Kavan explained that the UN should head the coalition because it would be impossible to fight international terrorism only by military means. He added the Czech Republic fully supported the coalition as well as the UN anti-terrorist resolution, but that military force alone was not the best solution. The United Nations have much more resources which could be used to root out terrorism at their disposal - said the Czech Foreign minister.
Meanwhile, Minister Kavan did not rule out the possibility that a Czech citizen may have, in the past, helped extremist groups in Afghanistan. But, he warns at the same time that this information as well as an alleged sale of Czech-made anthrax to terrorists should not be used to associate his country with bin Laden's terrorist group. A Russian memorandum sent to the United States earlier this week reported the presence of Czech and Bulgarian citizens in bin Laden's camps. Kavan said this is mere speculation and should not serve as grounds for accusing the Czech Republic of links to terrorism.
In a related development, the Czech Defence Ministry says the Prague 1 district's disapproval is the main obstacle in deploying armoured personnel carriers and elite troops to protect the US embassy building in the centre of Prague. However, US-funded Radio Free Europe had no trouble getting authorisation to station several armoured carriers and set up road-blocks at their Prague location. Although the station does not broadcast to Afghanistan itself, its programmes can be heard in most of the neighbouring countries.
Some 50 people gathered on Saturday at Hradcanske Square near Prague Castle, in protest of the US planned retaliation against those they deem responsible for the September 11th terrorist attacks in the United Stares. The demonstrators collected signatures for a petition to be presented to president Vaclav Havel, in which he is asked to withdraw Czech support for the United States. Organizer Martin Safek told journalists that his movement called "Globalised resistance" was against all forms of terrorism, but that war would only increase the number of victims.
Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel told the Austrian station Radio-Ol on Saturday that there remain many unsolved problems at the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. And, so the long-term energy dispute between Austria and the Czech Republic continues. Schussel does however mention that it is important to bring a difficult dialogue with the Czech Republic to a successful end. The Chancellor has re-iterated that the energy chapter in the Czech Republic's accession talks with the EU might not be closed unless all the problems are solved to their satisfaction. Austria has serious reservations about the plant's safety and the energy chapter cannot be concluded without the approval of all EU members.
The Czech Justice Minister Jaroslav Bures explained to the European Commission in Brussels that the Czech judicial system is going through unprecedented changes. Mr. Bures tried to persuade the Commission's Director General for Enlargement, Enek Landaburu -who in the past criticised the Czech court system of inefficiency, that the new changes are quite positive. Mr. Landaburu expressed his appreciation of the Czech Republic's effort to reform its judicial system , which, he said, would be reflected in the EU annual evaluation report on EU candidate countries. The report is expected to be more favourable than in previous years.
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