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Vol 3, No 23
25 June 2001
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Czech newsNews from the
Czech Republic

All the important news
since 16 June 2001

Mark Preskett


Bank law ruled unconstitutional

The Constitutional Court ruled in favour of
View today's updated headlines from the Czech Republic and Slovakia

Czech President Václav Havel on Wednesday, upholding his selection of governor for the Czech National Bank (ČNB). President Havel appointed Zděnek Tůma to the position in November 2000. The government responded to the appointment by declaring it unconstitutional and argued that a countersignature by the prime minister was required for the appointment to be considered legal.

The Court also upheld four of the five complaints by the President, charging that aspects of the new law on the ČNB were unconstitutional. These aspects include the right of the government to name both the governor and the members of the bank's council, the power to endorse the investment budget of ČNB and the power to maintain ČNB's focus on limiting inflation.

In reaction to the news, Václav Klaus, Chairman of the Civic Democrats, told the Czech news agency ČTK that he questioned the impartiality of the court and that it was unfairly biased towards the President. The President has used his right of veto 21 times, 12 times since the 1998 general elections. He has referred four cases to the Constitutional Court on four different occasions and has won each time.


BSE crisis continues

This week, the Czech Ministry of Agriculture banned the use of cow, sheep and goat meat which has been scraped from animal bones. This measure was taken in an effort to decrease the risk of transferring BSE to humans. Following the first confirmed positive test of BSE on a cow at the Dušejov farm in South Moravia, over 130 cows have been slaughtered. None of these cows tested positive for the disease.

The State Veterinary Authority believes that the infected cow contracted the disease four or five years ago, through infected milk, though no concrete evidence has been found to support this claim. The Union of Meat Producers has introduced measures, in the hope of improving public confidence in beef products. For example, only meat from cows less than five years old can be used; also, information regarding the age of the animal and proof of BSE testing is to be displayed for consumers where meat is sold. Sales of beef have slumped since the crisis began last month.


Temelín under fire

Plans to put the nuclear power plant at Temelín back on line has evoked more outrage among anti-nuclear activists. The plant in South Bohemia, which is currently under repair, suffered a series of mishaps since its activation last year and has caused a storm of protests originating in Austria. However, authorities in Upper Austria decided on Thursday not to allow another blockade of the Czech-Austrian border, which has been planned by five local organizations for Sunday. Despite this decision, the blockade may still take place.

The governor of Upper Austrian, Josef Puhringer, has sent a letter to Czech Prime Minister Miloš Zeman, saying that documentation from an environmental study of Temelín was incomplete. Also, US lawyer Ed Fagan, who is representing the anti-nuclear activists, stated this week that he would reveal his next moves at this month's World Economic Forum in Switzerland.


Michal Žantovský elected as ODA chairman

Senator Michal Žantovský was elected new Party Chairman of the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA)—one of the parties in the 4Coalition Party. Mr Žantovský, who took over from Daniel Kroupa, said that his priority would be to take the 4Coalition Party to victory in next year's parliamentary elections.


Klaus publicly condemned

This week, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Günter Verheugen stated in Brussels that as soon as a candidate country has fulfilled all requirements for EU entry, it should be given a firm date for accession to the Union. He added that any delay caused by waiting for other countries to prepare for accession might play into the hands of populist politicians who are against further EU enlargement.

Mr Verheugen cited the chairman of the Civic Democrats, Václav Klaus, as an example of an anti-European populist politician. "They would be able to use any delay to say that the EU does not really want us, it wants only our markets…this would be the argument of Mr Klaus in the Czech Republic. Others also have similar viewpoints though they do not argue as brilliantly as Mr Klaus."


Seventy foreign nationals detained at border

The Czech border police detained two groups of people near the country's border on Thursday. The detained people were trying to enter Germany illegally. The first group consisted of 59 Romanian citizens who had tried to cross the border in three cars bearing stolen license plates.

The second group of 11 Indians was thought to have flown to Moscow by plane before travelling by truck to the Czech Republic, where they spent several days in hiding. They then continued on foot before being caught by police close to the border. Thirty-three of the Romanians and seven of the Indians have claimed asylum in the Czech Republic and were taken to holding centres.

Mark Preskett, 22 June 2001

Moving on:


Hospodářské noviny
Lidové noviny
Mladá fronta Dnes
ČTK—Czech News Agency

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