Temelin nuclear plant activates
The Czech Republic has launched its Temelin nuclear power plant near its border with Austria and said a bitter row with Vienna over the plant's safety would not end until protests against it were halted.
Thousands of Austrian environmentalists blocked the largest border crossing between the two countries in protest at the Soviet-designed facility some 50 kilometres from the Austrian border.
The first nuclear chain reaction within the plant is not expected until later in the day.
The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, who travelled to the plant for the occasion, said the protests would not change the reality that the plant was safe and that it had met EU standards and shouldn't be an issue for membership talks.
Mr. Zeman said he had declared his willingness to meet Austria's Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel at the end of the month. But he said this would be pointless so long as there were blocades of the border.
The plant's director Frantisek Hezoucky said the reactor would be running at about 30 percent of its capacity in two months, and would be fully operational within five months.
President Vaclav Havel has said it was his largest political shortcoming not to have dismissed plans for Temelin when he took office in 1990 after the fall of Communist rule.
The Speaker of the Czech Lower House Vaclav Klaus has sharply criticised the Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner for saying the imminent activation of Temelin would be careless and shortsighted.
Mr. Klaus said her remarks were inappropriate and deeply offensive.
Ms Ferrero-Waldner was speaking to journalists at an EU foreign ministers' conference in Luxembourg as reports from Prague said Reactor Block 1 at Temelin would go operational.
Ms. Ferrero-Waldner put the Temelin question on the EU agenda in the present Luxembourg talks but there was no debate and she herself conceded that so far, no other EU country had openly supported her government's position.
Czech President Vaclav Havel has expressed guarded optimism about future developments in Yugoslavia after the collapse of the Milosevic regime.
Havel said in Prague that although Serbia was apparently on the road to democracy, it must try to resolve the status of its junior federal partner Montenegro and of Kosovo.
Mr. Havel said the deposed Serbian strongman Milosevic must face the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, where he stood accused of several crimes. He said crime must be punished as part of what he termed societal hygiene.
The Romanian Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu, on a visit to Prague, has described European integration as a very positive trend and said he believed that the situation in the southeast of Europe would improve with Vojislav Kostunica taking over as Yugoslav President.
The Romanian official said it was more useful and beneficial o think in terms of a Greater Europe instead of a Greater Serbia or Greater Albania.
He said the implementation of projects within the Stability Pact, aimed at Southeastern Europe, was important not only for Yugoslavia but for the renewal of the whole region and the whole of Europe as well.
Czech President Vaclav Havel has congratulated his Polish counterpart Aleksander Kwasniewski to being returned to office in a landslide presidential vote on Sunday.
Havel said in a letter to Mr. Kwasniewski that his clear election victory reflected his countless contributions to the advancement of Poland and the whole Central Europe.
Preliminary results show that Kwasniewski, a former Communist, has won over 53 percent of the first-round vote and defeated both Solidarity's leader Marian Krzaklewski and Poland's former Foreign Minister Andrzej Olechowski.
The EU's Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstroem says the Czech Republic has made progress in approximating its environmental legislation with the EU's.
She told the Czech news agency CTK's Brussels correspondent that in spite of some problems, she was pleasantly surprised to get a 1,000-page implementation plan from the Czech Republic as the first of 13 candidate countries.
The implementation plan lists in detail steps which state institutions, self-government bodies as well as private companies will take to cope with the EU's environment demands.
And finally, the weather:
Tuesday will be a wet day throughout the Czech Republic. Early morning lows will be between four and eight degrees Celsius, afternoon highs between ten and 14 degrees.
Wednesday's morning will be foggy, early morning lows will be between three and seven Celsius in Bohemia and between five and nine degrees in Moravia and Silesia. Maximum daytime temperatures from 11 to 15 Celsius, scattered showers.
On Thursday, the skies will remain cloudy, early morning lows will be from seven to 11 degrees and afternoon highs will be between 13 and 17 degrees Celsius.
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