NEWS - GENERAL
Activation of Nuclear Fuel in Temelin Means Foreign Policy Problems
Nuclear fuel was activated in the presence of Prime Minister Milos
Zeman and the Trade Minister Miroslav Gregr in the Temelin nuclear power
plant October 9. The controlled fission chain reaction, i.e. the actual
start-up of the power plant, was initiated two days later. The
construction of Temelin took 14 years and its completion was pushed back
many times. Costs doubled original estimates and reached a total of
98.6 billion crowns. The first electric supply is expected by the end of
Protests against the power plant grew stronger as the commencement
of operation came near. According to the latest opinion polls, 59 per
cent of Czech respondents agree with the activation of the power
station. Austrians are strongly against it and want to achieve the
shut-down of the nuclear process for at least six months, during which
an international evaluation of the plant's safety and its impact on the
environment would take place. After protests at the borders (see
Carolina 387 and 388) the Austrians continued their blockades. Joerg
Haider, former Free Democrats (FPO) chairman, personally supported the
10,000 protesters at one of the major crossings in Wullowitz-Dolni
Dvoriste October 13.
The Czech Republic officially asked the EU for help with the
blocked borders the same day (Czech-Austrian borders are the outer
borders of the EU) because its request to the Austrian government to
secure free transit failed. Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel
accused the Czech government of disturbing neighborly relations.
The blockades were officially suspended October 15. Austria wants
to enable the Czech government to open diplomatic talks about Temelin's
operation without such extraneous pressure. According to the latest
news, Zeman and Schuessel are to meet October 31 in Brno.
Vera Vonavkova/Simon Dominik, Ondrej Maly
After deadline: EU Commissar Gunter Verheugen said he considers the
Austrian blockades a violation of European law. He said this after his
October 18 meeting with Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and expressed
his confidence that the conflict can be solved by bilateral talks.
Rychetsky Takes over Justice Ministry
President Vaclav Havel authorized Deputy Prime Minister Pavel
Rychetsky to administer the Ministry of Justice October 16. Rychetsky
replaces Otakar Motejl, the only non-partisan in the government, who
resigned because many of his proposals for judicial reform were rejected
by the legislature.
The former minister managed to start speeding up civil and
commercial proceedings, but the Chamber of Deputies in May rejected his
Criminal Code reform that moved some authority from the police to the
Rychetsky said he would like to find a new minister as soon as
possible, at the latest within three months. The current Chairman of the
Appeals Court in Prague Jaroslav Bures is considered to be the leading
candidate. Senators of the ruling Social Democrats (CSSD) nominated
Motejl for the position of ombudsman. The former minister agreed with
his candidacy after he met with Havel October 16.
Petr Adam/Simon Dominik
Education, Culture and Spiritual Values in the Globalized World,
was the main theme of the 4th Forum 2000 international conference
organized by Czech President Vaclav Havel at Prague Castle October
About 60 well known personalities from around the world took part
in the conference, among them former Taiwan President Li Teng-chuei,
Islamic philosopher and writer Abbas Mohadjerani, Russian human rights
activist Sergei Kovalyov, the Tibetan Dalai Lama, musician Peter Gabriel
and French political scientist Jacques Rupnick.
Participants of the conference came to the conclusion that
globalization cannot be clearly and strictly defined. British
sociologist Anthony Giddens said the driving force of globalization is
not only the economy and market forces, but telecommunications. Former
South African President Frederik de Klerk pointed out the danger which
globalization poses to cultural diversity.
Forum debate was affected by the outbreak of violence in the Middle
East. Havel and other Forum 2000 participants appealed to the fighting
parties and asked them to return to dialogue and to search for
a solution to the conflict through peaceful means.
Gabriela Pribilova/Milan Smid
Army Loses Two Pilots and Their Fighter Planes
Two fighter planes crashed near Havlickuv Brod October 10. Both
pilots died. The crash occurred during a landing maneuver when the
pilots were returning to their base from a training flight. The first
aircraft's altimeter probably broke and both planes hit the ground. The
pilots were highly trained, both had more than 1,300 flight hours and
spent approximately 160 hours a year in the air. The planes were 25
years old but were modernized not long ago and were part of the NATO
Both black boxes were found. Czech Army Air Forces Chief Ladislav
Klima said there were no flaws in the navigation equipment and wondered
why the pilots descended to such a low altitude and hit the ground 35
kilometers from the airport. The investigating commission should provide
a clearer statement about the cause of the accident in 10 days.
Stepan Vorlicek/Simon Dominik
NEWS IN BRIEF
* The November 12 regional and Senate elections were the main theme
at the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) party congress in Pilsen October
14. Party Chairman Vaclav Klaus criticized political subjects outside
the party system that avoid direct political competition and further
their interests behind the scenes (his remarks could be interpreted as
a shot at President Vaclav Havel and his coterie). The top priority for
ODS will be creating a government that would not need a coalition form.
* The Czech government cancelled all its sanctions aginst Yugoslavia
at the October 11 Cabinet session. Visa limitations for Slobodan
Milosevic and his family remain in effect.
Ales Borovan/Zdenek Sloboda