By ERIC FREY and DAVID BUCHAN
Oct. 13, 2000(Financial Times)Wolfgang Schussel, the Austrian Chancellor, yesterday called on the European Union to take a firm stand against on the Czech Republic’s new Temelin nuclear power plant, which Austria fears is unsafe.
Pledging to raise the issue of the controversial power plant at an EU summit this weekend, Mr Schussel said he found it inexplicable that the 15-nation bloc had guidelines on the protection of birds but no minimum standards for new nuclear facilities.
The interior ministers of Austria and the Czech Republic yesterday failed to reach agreement to end the week-long border blockade by Austrian critics of the Temelin nuclear plant.
Austrian interior minister Ernst Strasser told his Czech colleague Stanislav Gross that he would not “restrict the freedom of assembly and demonstration in Austria by one millimetre”.
Austria has given the protesters permission until Friday night to block several border crossings between the two countries. Earlier this week Prague had demanded that protests be halted by Wednesday night or they would appeal to the European Commission.
Some protesters indicated that they would continue the blockades over the weekend.
The Austrian public and government is incensed by the Czech decision to start the Temelin power plant in spite of safety doubts. Critics of the power plants gained unexpected support by Czech President Vaclav Havel, who called his acquiescence to the construction of Temelin the “gravest mistake of my presidency”.
However, on a visit to London, Milos Zeman, the Czech prime minister, took a tough stand against Austria, suggesting that the Austrians blockade of the border went well beyond their legitimate right to demonstrate against the Czech nuclear plant.
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