President Vaclav Havel has sent his condolences to U.S. President George W. Bush following Monday's crash of a U.S. Airlines passenger plane in New York with more than 200 people on board. "President Havel extends his most heartfelt sympathies to the American people, who have been exposed within such a short time to yet another ordeal," the Head of the Presidential Office, Martin Krafl told journalists in Prague. President Havel also wrote that his thoughts were with those who had lost relatives or friends in the crash.
Monday's air-crash in New York does not require the introduction of tightened security measures in the Czech Republic, the Minister of the Interior, Stanislav Gross told journalists on Monday. Minister Gross said no information so far indicated that security in the Czech Republic was threatened, but added that the situation could not be underestimated. According to Transport Minister Jaromir Schling, the airbus crash in New York will not influence flights from the Czech Republic to the United States.
The European Commission will issue 13 individual 'progress reports' on the EU candidate countries on Tuesday. The reports will most likely say that although the first ten candidates do not yet meet all EU requirements, they are expected to have fulfilled all their tasks within the next few months. The European Commission will then have 11 to 12 months to prepare the final verdict and disclose what countries would be able to sign an agreement on accession. Then they should join the Union in time to be able to participate in the elections to the European parliament in June 2004. The European Commission is to approve a report saying that the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus have well functioning market economies strong enough to be able to compete on the EU single market.
The Prime Minister Milos Zeman expressed satisfaction in the city of Ostrava on Monday over the fact that in its evaluation report, the European Commission describes the Czech Republic as a well functioning market economy. Mr. Zeman said the Czech Republic had made a big step forward over the past few years. He pointed to the fact that the last report had still mentioned the Czech Republic as a country whose economy cannot be considered a market one. It is generally expected that the report will be favourable for the Czech Republic. However, the Prime Minister voiced his criticism over the fact that the Czech Republic was the only EU candidate not to have a new civil service law yet.
The chairmen of the parliamentary parties of the Austrian coalition government met on Monday with the opposition and the Minister of the Environment Wilhelm Molterer. They came up with a draft document concerning the controversial Temelin nuclear power station in South Bohemia and set conditions necessary for Austria's approval of the closing of the energy chapter within the Czech Republic's EU accession talks. Although there's no mention of an Austrian veto of the Czech Republic's entry into the EU, anti-nuclear Austria wants the Czechs to deal with Temelin's impact on the environment and the seven major safety problems that Austrian nuclear experts had claimed existed. Minister Molterer said he believed that all the parties will agree on concerted efforts to address the issue of the Czech nuclear power plant, which is some 50 kilometres from the Austrian border.
The Czech police and prison service say they succeeded on Monday night in preventing a nationwide prisoners' revolt, which they say was meant to distract officers from a jailbreak by a group of Russian-speaking prisoners. Revolts had apparently been planned in 11 prisons throughout the Czech Republic. The Justice Minister Jaroslav Bures told journalists on Monday that the revolt had been very well prepared. Nineteen prisoners have now been moved to other prisons.
And finally the weather: Tuesday is expected to be a cloudy day with occasional rain and snow showers. Daily highs between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius.
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