Czechs, Slovaks join forces in defence of EU nuclear power

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Czech Republic and Slovakia vowed on Monday to join forces on backing nuclear power within the EU when they held their first joint government meeting since the former Czechoslovakia split peacefully 20 years ago.

Prague and Bratislava will join forces "to prevent the torpedoing of further development of nuclear energy within the EU, including the Czech Republic and Slovakia," Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas told reporters.

"In Slovakia we can't imagine energy security without nuclear plants," his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico agreed.

Last year, European Union heavyweight Germany -- the top trade partner for both states -- decided to phase out nuclear energy in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster.

The Czech Republic relies for about 30 percent of its power output on its two nuclear plants, in the southern villages of Temelin and Dukovany.

Slovakia, where nuclear energy supplies 55 percent of overall demand, operates nuclear facilities in the southwestern villages of Jaslovske Bohunice and Mochovce.

The plants, planned or built during the Communist era, have been a cause for concern in neighbouring Austria, which has repeatedly criticised what it insists are their poor safety standards.

But Slovakia's Fico insisted on Monday that the facilities in both countries were safe.

"Stress tests have confirmed that Slovak and Czech nuclear plants have high safety standards... and do not require any steps that would boost safety," he said.

The Czech and Slovak governments met in the southeastern Czech town of Uherske Hradiste on Monday morning, before crossing the border to meet again in the northwestern Slovak town of Trencin in the afternoon.

With the Czech Republic hit by recession and Slovakia keen to maintain rosy economic growth, Prague and Bratislava also vowed to step up cooperation in the defence sector with a view to consolidating spending, Necas said.

Reinforcing cooperation in oil and gas supplies, freight railway transport also figured on the agenda. The leaders also revealed they were mulling a return to a joint football league.

Monday's meetings take place a day after the 94th anniversary of the creation of Czechoslovakia, and shortly before the 20th anniversary of the federation's split in 1993, four years after it had shed totalitarian Communist rule.

The countries are EU and NATO members, and Slovakia also joined the eurozone in 2009.

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