Czech leaders welcome developments in Yugoslavia
Czech political leaders have welcomed the popular revolt in Yugoslavia expressing the hope that the country's return to democracy would be peaceful. Speaking at a meeting of the Visegrad Group in Warsaw, the Czech Prime Minister said he hoped Slobodan Milosevic did not intend to follow in the footsteps of the former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausesku and would respect the will of the people. Yugoslavia's return to the democratic fold has been hailed by all Czech parliamentary parties. All have expressed support for a swift lifting of sanctions against Yugoslavia stressing that the war-torn and impoverished nation would need international assistance in order to successfully complete the initiated democratization process. The Czech authorities are now considering various forms of assistance to Yugoslavia. Their plans are to be unveiled within two to three days.
Anti-nuclear activists in Upper Austria have held more protest actions against the planned activation of the Temelin nuclear power plant located just 50 kms from the border. Over 200 demonstrators and thirty tractors blocked the main road leading to the Wullowitz border check-point causing huge pile-ups in a last ditch attempt to get the plant's activation postponed.
Meanwhile, the state-owned utility CEZ has announced that the plant has passed all safety tests and is ready for operation. It is now waiting to get the green light from the Czech Nuclear Energy Agency. Permission to activate the plant for trial operation is expected to be given no later than 9 am Central European Time on Monday.
Zdenek Sarapatka, aide to the Prime Minister and a key witness in the court case regarding a plot to discredit Deputy Parliament Speaker Petra Buzkova, has tendered his resignation to the head of the Government Office minister Karel Brezina. In a letter to Brezina, the aide complains of unfair treatment from his superiors. "I no longer trust in an honest and open approach from either yourself or the Prime Minister" Sarapatka says in the letter. Sarapatka was banned from entering the government building immediately after naming his colleague Vratislav Sima as the alleged author of the slander- materials against Buzkova. Meanwhile, Sima continues to act as the Prime Minister's aide, although he has been advised to work at home.
A drug law enforcement unit of the Czech police force has arrested four people believed to be important links in the central European drugs mafia network. A police spokeswoman said the two Czech nationals and two foreigners had sold 20 million crowns worth of heroin to local drug addicts. The four worked closely together as links on the drugs route from Asia to Europe.
Around forty people gathered outside the Czech embassy in the Norwegian capital Oslo on Saturday to protest against alleged police brutality during street riots accompanying the recent IMF and WB meeting here in Prague. They demanded the release of 16 people who have been charged in connection with the street violence calling them "political prisoners". Police had cordoned off the embassy and after an hour or so the protesters dispersed peacefully. Similar protests have taken place outside Czech embassies in a number of European cities. The CTK news agency reports that around thirty anti- globalization activists braved the rain in Paris on Saturday to present Czech embassy officials with written eye-witness testimonies of police brutality against anti-globalization activists in Prague.
Prime Minister Milos Zeman is to pay an official visit to Great Britain next week. Talks with his British counterpart, Mr. Tony Blair are to focus on European integration and bilateral ties, in particular economic cooperation. The two heads of cabinet met in Warsaw at this close of this week and Prime Minister Zeman expressed appreciation of the British Prime Minister's support for early EU expansion. During his Polish visit Mr. Blair said he would urge Europe's political leaders to commit themselves to a specific framework leading to an early end of the negotiations and accession. "I want to see new member states participating in the European Parliamentary elections in 2004 and having a seat at the table at the next Inter Governmental Conference" he told newsmen.
Finally, a quick look at the weather: Sunday is expected to be another overcast and rainy day here in central Europe with day temps between 9 and 14 degs C. More gray skies and rain are expected on Monday so if you venture out be sure to carry an umbrella and dress warm.
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