The Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, has sent a letter to the Northern Alliance Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, saying his country supports the formation of a new multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan. Mr Kavan said he had written the letter in reaction to last Wednesday's request by the United States for Prague to participate in the formation of a new Afghan government. According to Mr Kavan, Prague supported a fully representative broad-based multi-ethnic government and would monitor the conference on the future of Afghanistan, organised by the United Nations in Bonn this week.
The Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner visited the Netherlands on Monday, to try to win Dutch support for Austria's dispute with the Czech Republic over the Temelin nuclear power plant. The Dutch Foreign Minister, Jozias van Aartsen, expressed an interest in implementing a basic standard on nuclear safety that would have to be respected by all EU member states. Mrs Ferrero-Waldner's had hoped for more support from the Netherlands. She wants to force the Czech Republic into making last year's Melk agreement between Prague and Vienna legally binding before the EU summit in Belgium next month. Meanwhile, in Austria, representatives of the Freedom Party began a fresh campaign on Monday to convince people to sign a referendum against the Czech Republic's entry into the EU if the Temelin nuclear power plant is fully activated for commercial use.
It is still unclear whether two bodies discovered on Sunday belong to Jan and Dagmar Vosmansky. The brother and sister have been missing since late July after leaving for a tour of local castles with their Belgian brother-in-law. His body was found two weeks later but an intensive search of the region - involving hundreds of police and soldiers - failed to find the missing children. Members of the forensic team on the case have said that more tests will have to be done for at least two weeks before it can be determined whether the bodies - which had already begun to decompose - belonged to the two missing children. Tests have shown, however, that the victims most probably died of suffocation.
Several members of an association of former World War Two resistance members have fiercely criticised plans by a leading Sudeten German group to open an office in Prague. Andela Dvorakova, head of the Czech Union of Freedom Fighters, said the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft was out for revenge, and opening an office in Prague would be an insult to the honour of the 360,000 Czechoslovak victims of Nazism. The former head of the Freedom Fighters, Jakub Cermin, however, told reporters he did not share Mrs Dvorakova's views, saying a Prague-based office would help Czechs and Germans settle their differences and live in peace as neighbours.
Some 35% of Czechs have so far not made up their minds as to whether they support Czech accession to the EU. A public opinion poll carried out in November also showed that in the case of a referendum on EU membership, some 44% of Czechs would vote for EU membership and 14% against. A little under a tenth of the population would not bother to vote. The poll also showed that in the last two months, the number of people against EU membership decreased whilst the number of supporters has not changed.
Another opinion poll carried out amongst secondary school students showed that 50% of students saw Czech membership of the EU to be advantageous to the Czech Republic. This result differs from that obtained from the poll of the entire nation where most of those polled believed that membership would benefit the EU more than it would the Czech Republic. Both polls showed, however, that most Czechs believe there isn't enough information on the Czech Republic's readiness for EU membership.
The cabinet decided on Monday that the Czech Republic would take part in the 2005 Expo world exhibition in Japan. Although the exhibition is still some years away, Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said it was necessary to accept Japan's invitation as early as possible, in order to minimise the problems that may come with preparations for Expo. The Czech Republic's preparation's for last year's Expo in Hanover saw not only the concept of the Czech pavilion change several times but there were also last minute changes in staff responsible for the Czech contribution. The 2005 theme will be "Technology, Culture, and Communication: for the Creation of a New Global Community" and Mr Kavan is expected to present his suggestion for the Czech pavilion's general commissioner within a month.
And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Tuesday and Wednesday are expected to have overcast skies with occasional showers and snow in places and with day-time temperatures in Bohemia between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius and between -1 and 3 degrees Celsius in Silesia and Moravia. Tuesday night will be much the same, with temperatures hovering around zero degrees Celsius.
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