French MEP walks out in disgust at Temelin remarks

15-12-2000

Regular listeners to Radio Prague will have heard this week how Austria and the Czech Republic finally reached agreement over the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant, which lies just a few dozen kilometres away from the Austrian border. At a historic meeting in the Austrian town of Melk this week, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel and Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman shook hands on a compromise which will see independent experts launch an environmental impact study of the plant. Environmental activists on both sides of the border still weren't happy with the deal, but the press described it as the end to the weeks of border blockades and chilly diplomatic exchanges, heralding a new era in Czech-Austrian relations.

But that wasn't the end of the Temelin dispute: on Thursday it spread to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. MEP Danielle Auroi, a member of France's coalition Green Party, stormed out of a committee meeting in protest at remarks by fellow committee member Jan Zahradil, a member of Vaclav Klaus's right-of-centre Civic Democrats. The incident happened after Mme Auroi quizzed Mr Zahradil over what Prague was planning to do with nuclear waste at Temelin.

Mr Zahradil, clearly blessed with the same diplomatic skills as his boss, Vaclav Klaus, pointed out to Mme Auroi that she came from a country which generated 70 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, and had the highest number of nuclear reactors in Europe. This was not the answer Mme was looking for, and she stormed out in a huff. Prague may have settled its scores with Vienna, but Temelin looks set to continue to cause friction.