14-12-2000

"Temelin is now in the EU's hands," writes MLADA FRONTA DNES on the controversial nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. The paper reports on a meeting in Austria of the Czech and Austrian prime ministers, Milos Zeman and Wolfgang Schuessel. Also present was EU Commissioner for Enlargement Gunter Verheugen. "There's no winner or loser in this long ongoing feud," writes MLADA FRONTA DNES. It quotes Prime Minister Zeman as saying that the only winner should be the truth. In an agreement, signed on Tuesday, the Czech side pledged to carry out a complete test of the Temelin nuclear power plant which would verify its impact on the environment as well as its nuclear safety. Verheugen reassured the Czech side that Temelin would be judged according to the EU standards, while Mr. Zeman expressed the Czech Republic's preparedness to close down the plant in the event of a negative result from the tests, reports MLADA FRONTA DNES.

Today's LIDOVE NOVINY writes that the removal of Defence Minister Vladmir Vetchy seems inevitable. But it seems, that it will be Prime Minister Milos Zeman who will have the last word, says the paper. According to some cabinet members, Mr.Vetchy has lost control of his own ministry. Indeed it seems that the final straw for some ministers was when Vetchy submitted material about the purchase of new jet fighters for the Czech army, worth more than 100 billion crowns and the contract's wording did not correspond with the text approved by the ministers. In fact, Vetchy knew nothing about the changes his people had made in the document. When asked by LIDOVE NOVINY about the affair, Minister Vetchy just smiled sadly and shrugged. Prime Minister Zeman is expected to recall him by the end of the year, writes LIDOVE NOVINY.

The Czech economy continues to grow, due especially to an increase in foreign investment and a growing shopping fever affecting Czech households. The gross national product in the first three quarters of 2000 grew year-on-year by 2.8 percent, writes today's PRAVO. According to the paper, this increased economic growth has brought an increase in jobs available. Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik confirmed to PRAVO that higher investment in machinery shows that the growth is not based merely on an increased demand. The good performance of the Czech economy has been strengthened by a higher consumption of households. People are actually saving less; savings in banks have dropped by more than 4 billion when compared to last year. The less they save the more people spend and it is on mobile phones, furniture and services, Marie Bohata from the Czech statistical office told PRAVO.

According to Ceske Slovo, the Czech Moravian Trade Union Chamber will continue to exert pressure for pay rises in order to compensate for price increases in the Czech Republic. The Camber's chairman, Richard Falbr, told the paper that his trade unions will continue to fight for higher salaries so that people can afford to buy all the required necessities. Falbr's trade unions want a 10-percent increase in all salaries, as the prices of gas and electricity are to go up next year, which may have a negative impact on poorer households. Richard Falbr also said that salaries in the Czech Republic should be higher, as the country is hoping to join the European Union in three years, which means, he says, our salaries cannot remain at just one third of those in the EU.

14-12-2000