Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

23-11-2001

EC rejects EP call for Temelin conference

The European Commission has rejected the European Parliament's call for an international conference which would examine Temelin's safety and the possible costs of shutting it down. In a letter sent to the European Parliament by EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Guenter Verheugen and Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palaci, the European Commission said it was not possible to support such an initiative as the Czech Republic had rejected such a conference. It added that it would not be realistic to count on financial support to help cover the cost of closing the plant down.

EU commissioner says future of Temelin should be up to Czechs

And staying with the EU and its position on Temelin. EU commissioner Michel Barnier said on Thursday that decision-making in energy policy should be up to the governments of individual countries. Speaking to journalists in Vienna after a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, and other members of the coalition government, Mr Barnier said the Czech Republic ought to be given that freedom too, provided their energy policy followed basic standards. He was reacting to calls by several Austrian politicians and environmental organisations for the closure of the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. Austria's junior coalition Freedom Party has gone a step further, demanding that Austria veto the Czech Republic's entry into the EU if Temelin is not shut down. Mr Barnier said that, on the contrary, it would be in Austria's interest for its neighbour to become an EU member as it would then have to abide by its rules, which also included nuclear safety.

Czech government sues Respekt

The Czech Government has filed a lawsuit against the Editor-in-Chief of the current affairs weekly Respekt, Petr Holub. Government representatives protested at an article recently published in the magazine. A commentator in the weekly - which has always been hostile to the Social Democrats - claimed Mr Zeman's cabinet was corrupt from top to bottom. When the article first appeared, Prime Minister Zeman said he and each of the 16 members of his Cabinet would sue the magazine for a million Czech crowns in order to force it out of business. So far, neither Zeman nor any of the ministers have filed law suits.

Sudeten Germans plan to open office in Prague

The Association of Sudeten Germans plans to open up an office in Prague at the beginning of next year. The organisation's chairman, Bernd Posselt, said on Thursday that the main task of the office would be to improve the exchange of information by coming into closer contact with Czech politicians. He added that in the past, weak sources of information had resulted in an atmosphere of misunderstanding and mistrust. Although relations between the Czech Republic and Germany are generally very good, Prague's refusal to compensate victims of the post-war expulsion of Czechoslovakia's ethnic German minority has resulted in some friction.

Czech Senate fails to approve controversial Commercial Code

During a session of the Czech Senate on Thursday, opposition Four-Party Coalition members blocked the approval of a heavily disputed amendment to the Commercial Code. The Senators said that the lower house's approval of the submitted amendment was unconstitutional. In a controversial vote last week, the bill was revoked by the lower house two weeks after it was approved. Lower house speaker Vaclav Klaus said the bill was confusing and contained mistakes, and the lower house had no choice but to revoke it. Four-Party Coalition MPs oppose Mr Klaus, saying such an act was illegal and failed to uphold parliamentary democracy. They say amending legislation is the work of the Senate.

Germany to give Czech carers long-term work permits

In an interview for the German daily, the Hamburger Abendblatt, Germany's Labour Minister, Walter Riester has said plans were underway to legalise the issuing of long-term residence permits to some foreign health workers. Mr Riester told the paper that Germany lacked carers, and was therefore seeing a growing number of foreigners, mainly Czechs and Poles, working in the area illegally. He said that foreign carers could expect to be eligible for 3-year residence and work permits as early as January next year and - if the carers were from candidate countries for EU membership - would receive the necessary approval within a week.

Opinion poll: public trust in Havel continues

The Centre for Public Opinion Polls has released the results of a recent poll on the popularity of Czech politicians and political institutions. It showed that support for Czech President Vaclav Havel has remained steady over the last two years, with a 54% rating this year. Confidence in the Czech government, on the other hand, has fallen in the past month - from 44% to 41%. Support for the lower house has not changed since October where almost 70% said they had no confidence in the body. With 26%, the upper house, the Senate, enjoys 5% more confidence than one month ago.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. And it looks like the winter is about to hit us in full force with cloudy skies and snow expected at night. Night-time temperatures are to range between 2 and -2 degrees Celsius. The snow is expected to continue to fall throughout Friday and the week-end, with temperatures on Friday between 1 and 3 degrees Celsius and between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius at the weekend.

23-11-2001