A ten hour blockade of the Czech transport ministry has ended. It was effected by importers of second hand cars and the association of driving schools who demanded the minister's resignation. They claim that a recently amended law controlling the import of second hand cars has resulted in chaos and that the driving tests produced by the transport ministry have damaged both applicants for a license and driving schools. The protesters insist that the transport minister Jaromir Schling accept full responsibility for these failings. They ended the 10 hour blockade of the transport ministry and called off an earlier threat to spread the blockade to Prague's major roads as well as border crossings after the Prime Minister's office arranged a meeting with the head of Cabinet for next Monday. A spokesman for the protestors told the CTK news agency that this does not mean reconciliation. If the transport minister does not resign or is not recalled by the end of August then we'll take fresh action, he said.
Austrian anti-nuclear protesters say they will take both Temelin's Czech operator CEZ and its US contractor Westinghouse to court over the controversial nuclear power plant in south Bohemia. Helmut Huttinger, a lawyer representing the Austrian anti-nuclear lobby, said the aim was to ensure that both CEZ and Westinghouse would be held fully responsible for any health, environmental or financial damage caused by the plant. Last month the Austrian and German governments urged Prague to consider closing the controversial 3 billion dollar plant down permanently, citing safety concerns. However the Czech authorities insist that the plant meets strict nuclear safety norms, arguing that the long line of setbacks at the station are merely teething problems which are to be expected during trial operation. A CEZ spokesman said on Monday that the company had nothing to fear in court since it had not violated any Czech or international laws. Temelin's critics say the plant is dangerous because it was built using a outdated Soviet design, its advocates, including Westinghouse officials, maintain that the plant was safely retro-fitted with modern Western safety controls.
The German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is expected to raise the issue, in public or privately, during a scheduled tour of Czech factories and spa towns in the course of the next three days. On Tuesday he is to lunch with the Czech prime minister Milos Zeman and Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan at the Sychrov chateau near the north Bohemian town of Liberec. A visit to the Skoda car factory in Mlada Boleslav is also on the agenda. The Skoda-Volkswagen enterprise is the most successful Czech-German joint venture and Germany's biggest single investment in the Czech Republic. On his tour of the Skoda factory the German Chancellor is to be accompanied by the Czech industry minister Miroslav Gregr.
Over one hundred Czech troops are in Macedonia to assist a fragile peace deal. The Czech unit is part of an advance NATO contingent which is to disarm ethnic Albanian rebels under an agreement between the Macedonian government and Albanian politicians. The advance unit, made up of 195 soldiers from Britain, 125 from the Czech Republic, 25 from France, 7 from Greece and 8 from Norway, assembled in Skopje over the weekend. The unit has so far established a communications centre that will maintain contact with the Macedonian government and Albanian rebels of the National Liberation Army /UCK/. The advance group will also test whether a cease-fire between the Macedonian forces and the rebels is holding a condition for collecting the weapons by NATO.
The new US ambassador to the Czech Republic Mr. Craig Roberts Stapleton is expected to take office by the end of the month. Mr. Stapelton was appointed to the post on April 6th of this year and sworn in last Friday.
Monday night is expected to bring overcast skies and rain and Tuesday should dawn somewhat cooler with morning temperatures at around 15 degs C. We can expect more rain in the course of the day as well as late afternoon thunderstorms in places. Afternoon highs have been forecast at between 20 and 24 degs. Wednesday's temps should be slightly higher reaching 26 degs C.
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