Austria says Melk agreement must remain valid


Austria has reacted with anger to the Czech prime minister's plans to end the validity of the Melk agreement on the Temelin nuclear power plant. During his visit to neighbouring Austria on Monday Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said that the conditions of the Melk agreement - relating to the safety of the Temelin nuclear power plant in south Bohemia - had been met and at its session on Wednesday the Czech government would officially end the validity of the agreement. The bilateral agreement signed in Melk in 2000 relates to safety norms at the plant and sets a framework for regular meetings between Czech and Austrian nuclear safety experts. According to the Czech prime minister all outstanding issues have now been resolved and the Melk agreement should be replaced by a standard bilateral agreement on a mutual exchange of information on nuclear safety.

Austrian anti-nuclear activists have threatened to step up border blockades and politicians have warned that the one-sided move would have "negative consequences for bilateral relations". Austrian Environment Minister Josef Proll has written a protest note to the Czech Foreign Ministry demanding an explanation.