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Czech Watch - 19 February 2001

19.2.2001 9:11
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Environment Minister Milos Kuzvart today approved an exception for the new D8 motorway to run across Ceske stredohori, a protected nature area in north-west Bohemia, but made the permit conditional on the investor fulfilling 30 points of environment and landscape protection.

Czech Havel stays in hospital as lungs worsen. Czech President Vaclav Havel suffered a new clogging of his chronically ill lungs on Sunday and will not be released from hospital after the weekend as previously planned, his doctor said.

The Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, has said his dream is of a federal Europe, with common defence, social, foreign and environment policies. Speaking to a conference of Social Democrat youth organisations in Vienna, Mr Zeman also said he was in favour of a common European Constitution, and defended the idea of a Europe of diverse peoples. The Czech Republic is a front-runner candidate for membership of the European Union, and hopes to join the EU in 2003. The Czech Republic has asked the European Union for a permanent exemption on legislation governing the production of slivovice, or plum brandy. The Czech News Agency report claimed the distilling of slivovice did not conform to the EU's directives on the production of fruit-based spirits. Mostly produced in Moravia, slivovice differs from similar plum brandies because alcohol is added to the mixture during the distilling process, a procedure banned in the EU.

A new opinion poll shows a majority of people are concerned at the possible misuse of information to be gathered in a forthcoming census, the Czech Republic's first as an independent country. 61 percent of respondents to the poll, by the STEM agency, said they were worried about information falling into the wrong hands after the nation-wide count, which takes place on the night of February 28th. Human rights groups have already protested against several parts of the census form, including the mandatory filling-in of the 'rodne cislo' - the registration number given to all Czech citizens at birth.

(David Marek)


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