Daily news summary News Tuesday, MARCH 09th, 1999

09-03-1999

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail:

Temelin may be scrapped

Environment minister Milos Kuzvart is prepared to advise the Cabinet to scrap Temelin, the unfinished nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia. Kuzvart told the ctk that an independent analysis had convinced him that despite the 70 billion crowns the plant had already swallowed up it would still prove more economical to halt construction. The independent analysis describes Temelin as a highly risky business enterprise rather than a project of national interest, and notes that the electricity it would produce would not be needed by Czechs and would be extremely difficult to sell abroad. Kuzvart said he did not think it would be difficult to convince his fellow ministers once they had seen the analysis.

RFE launches broadcasts to Kosovo

Prague-based Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty has launched daily half hour transmissions in Albanian for the benefit of the Albanian inhabitants of Kosovo. A RFE spokesman said that together with daily transmissions beamed to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia the station was now broadcasting 10 hours a day to the region. It is important that all parties be given objective and updated information of developments, the spokesman said.

Czech and German PMs look to future cooperation in EU

European integration topped the agenda of premier Zeman's talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose government holds the rotating presidency of the Union until June. At a press conference in Bonn following their meeting the German Chancellor reiterated his country's support for Czech admission in the first wave of EU expansion adding that recent criticism regarding the pace of reform was the country's internal affair. The German government is aiming to marshal the 15 member block into a deal on reforms known as agenda 2,000 at a summit in Bonn later this month and Chancellor Schroeder underlined that EU internal reform was as important as preparations by candidate states.

In a move indicative of warmer relations since power changed hands in both countries last year the two sides ostensibly turned their backs on past grievances, vowing to focus on their common future in Europe. In a symbolic gesture Milos Zeman told his German hosts that the 1945 Czech laws under which two and a half million Germans were driven out of the Sudetenland were no longer in effect. Schroeder in turn pledged not to support compensation claims by Sudeten Germans and their descendants living in Germany.

Sedivy to brief NATO officials ahead of accession

Czech army chief of staff Jiri Sedivy has flown to Brussels for a two day session of NATO's Military Council in the course of which he will be briefing officials on the state of the Czech armed forces on the eve of the country's accession to NATO. Shortly before departure Sedivy told the ctk he was satisfied that the basic requirements had been met and the process of achieving full compatibility would continue within the alliance. The Czech armed forces have been struggling to deal with outdated equipment, language problems and poor training levels, but Sedivy said it was achieving full compatibility in logistics which would prove the hardest task. He predicted that could take ten to twelve years.

Solana says newcomers may see action

Meanwhile, in an interview for the BBC on Monday, NATO Secretary General Javier Solana said it was possible that the three newcomers to NATO - the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary - would be called upon to participate in an eventual NATO peacekeeping effort in Kosovo. These states proved themselves in Bosnia and I am assured that in the event of need they would agree to send their troops to Kosovo as well, Solana said. The Czech Republic has already offered to set up and operate a field hospital wherever needed.

Solana -visit

It has been announced that NATO Secretary General Javier Solana is due to visit the Czech Republic on March 24th to officially welcome the country in NATO. A special ceremony is being planned at Prague Castle at which both the NATO Secretary General and President Vaclav Havel are to present keynote addresses.

Slovakia offers congratulations

In a related development, the Slovak defense minister Eduard Kukan has welcomed the Czech Republic's imminent accession to NATO saying that this country's membership in the alliance would heighten Slovakia's security as well. In an interview for Czech Radio Kukan expressed regret that Slovakia has let slip a historic opportunity through its fingers , which he attributed to the foreign policy and general performance of the preceding left-wing government of Vladimir Meciar. It is our aim to make up for the lost time and join NATO as soon as possible, the Slovak official noted.

Tibet - solidarity

At least six Prague town halls plan to fly the Tibetan flag today in memory of the 1959 uprising and in protest of human rights violations in Tibet. The Zizkov Town Hall will hoist the white-red-blue flag at precisely 5pm today after which there will be a few minutes of prayer and meditation. A protest demonstration has also been planned outside the Chinese embassy in Prague at 5pm on Wednesday.

Weather

Tuesday should be partly cloudy to overcast with day temps between 4 and 8 degs C. A warm front due to cross Czech territory in the course of Wednesday and Thursday should bring even warmer weather with day temps forecast at between 10 and 14 degs. on both days.

09-03-1999