The government has decided to go ahead with the completion of the controversial nuclear power station at Temelin in south Bohemia. The decision was backed by eleven of the nineteen cabinet members after more than five hours of discussion at a late night cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The final cost for completing Temelin has been set at just under one hundred billion crowns, and the cabinet says the plant must be finished by September next year. Trade and Industry Minister Miroslav Gregr says he will resign if Temelin has not been completed by that date. The government also announced plans for the privatisation of the energy industry. Wednesday´s decision is a blow for the environmental lobby, who have spent ten years fighting for Temelin to be scrapped. Premier Milos Zeman said the cabinet had not taken into consideration remarks made on Wednesday afternoon by President Vaclav Havel, who issued an indirect call on the government to abandon the project.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has said that details of a joint Czech-Greek peace initiative for Kosovo will be ready by the end of the week. He told deputies in the lower house of parliament that the plan contained provisions for the renewal of the peace process in the Balkans. The plan envisages the disbanding of paramilitary units in Kosovo, the withdrawal of Yugoslav Army and police units from the province and the repatriation of Kosovo Albanian refugees. He refused to release details of the plan, saying they were still being finalised. Kavan said the three-part plan would be submitted to NATO Secretary General Javier Solana and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on Monday. The plan has received a mixed reaction from Czech politicians, some of whom said it was inappropriate for a country with such low support for NATO´s operation to be producing peace initiatives.
Support among the Czech public for a possible NATO ground operation appears to be hardening. A poll carried out by the Sofres Factum agency showed 64 percent of Czechs were in favour of sending ground troops to Yugoslavia if the conflict widened. More than 80 percent of respondents said the Czech Republic should not distance itself from the Kosovo conflict. Some 90 percent said Czech politicians should be involved in finding a diplomatic solution to ending the fighting, while the same number said the country should be involved in providing humanitarian aid to refugees.
Workers at the ÈKD transport manufacturers have not received their April pay packets. Employees at the company, which produces trams and metro carriages, were last paid on March 12. Union leaders say employees are becoming increasingly angry at the situation, and intend to take their case to Premier Milos Zeman personally. The company, which employs more than two thousand people, is currently experiencing severe financial problems and negotiations are being held with the government to find a way out of the crisis. ÈKD has been forced to send 1,800 employees home on leave until the situation can be resolved.
The Czech ice-hockey team were beaten 2:1 by Canada in the first leg of their two-match world championship semi-final. Canada took an early two goal lead in a match played in the Norwegian city of Lillehammer on Wednesday.
It will be a mostly cloudy day today, with scattered showers and the chance of thunderstorms in some parts of the country. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach a maximum of 20 degrees Celsius, falling to around 10 degrees at night. And I´m afraid there´ll be more of the same cloudy and humid weather over the weekend.
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