The first members of the Czech-Slovak anti-chemical unit in the Gulf are expected to fly home on Wednesday, together with Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik, who has been touring the region. The 30-member group has been in Kuwait since last September. Meanwhile, all members of the contingent, Czechs and Slovaks, will return home by early June. An army deputy chief of staff revealed that only logistical support for the 7th field hospital would remain at the US base at Camp Doha, while no Slovak troops were foreseen as working with the Czech field hospital. The Czech part of the anti-chemical unit, commanded by Dusan Lupuljev, consists of 400 soldiers, while Slovakia has 70 men and women in the Gulf. So far they have helped provide humanitarian aid in southern Iraq, including the distribution of water.
A new poll shows that majority of Czechs would favour referendum if it came to the placement of US troops on Czech soil; the poll, conducted by the Stem agency has revealed that even the majority of Czech politicians would not be against a plebiscite on the issue, with the greatest resistance to the idea coming from the Communist Party. According to the survey one third of the public would vote in favour of US basing troops in the Czech Republic, while 43 percent would vote against.
A second test by Brno hospital officials to determine whether a man who died of pneumonia over the weekend may have been infected with SARS - has failed to uncover any evidence of the deadly virus. The victim had been suspected of having the disease, after having recently travelled to the Czech Republic from Southeast Asia; he died in hospital on Saturday. An autopsy was first conducted to determine whether the man suffered from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, which has swept Asia and Canada, but so far has not been detected in the Czech Republic. In recent weeks Czech hospitals in the country's main cities have quarantined and examined some 26 people for the disease. None have tested positive so far.
Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has indicated he wants the National Security Office to increase the speed of vetting of candidates become members of the permanent Czech mission to the European Union. On Wednesday he requested the government give this task to the head of the National Security Office Tomas Kadlec. In Mr Svoboda's view vetting is clearly necessary with regards to the activities of diplomatic and non-diplomatic personnel, but after the government meeting on Wednesday he expressed dismay that 530 cases at the Foreign Ministry remain incomplete, 120 of those requests dating back to1999. Mr Svoboda wants the government to set specific deadlines for the vetting process. He stressed the importance of the procedure for completing the European agenda, as well as for the setting of Czech representation in Brussels.
Czech Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik has visited the city of Basra in
southern Iraq where work is underway on the setting up of a Czech field
hospital. The team of Czech doctors and nurses are already working in
makeshift conditions, providing medical care to several hundred
patients a day. The hospital should be fully operational by mid May.
Speaking to journalists later the minister said he was shocked by the
plight of the locals and proud of the work of the Czech field hospital
team. "They are professionals of which the Czech Republic can be truly
proud" the minister said.
Wednesday is expected to bring partly cloudy to overcast skies with rain in the north-western and eastern parts of the Czech Republic. Day temperatures between 21 and 28 degrees Celsius.
The Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has expressed support for a common European defense and foreign policy. Addressing an audience at the Johan Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt Mr. Spidla said that while Europe had become an economic power, foreign policy and defense wise it was a midget. A European defense force should help to restore balance within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Czech Prime Minister said. He appealed for European unity pointing out that in the present day no European country was in a position to defend its interests alone.
Czech politicians, WWII veterans and Prague citizens, on Monday, gathered outside the Czech Radio building to commemorate the 1945 Prague Uprising. The commemorative ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, deputy chairman of the Senate Premysl Sobotka, and the deputy mayor of Prague Petr Hulinsky, who laid wreaths in front of the Czech Radio Building and paid homage to the memory of those who lost their lives. The Prague Uprising began on May 5th, 1945 with a call to arms, broadcast on the radio. Around 30,000 people spontaneously joined the freedom fighters in the Czech capital.
Czech officials are investigating what may be the country's fifth case
of mad-cow disease. A six-year-old milk cow on a farm in the south
Moravian town of Dolni Lazany tested positive for Bovine Spongiform
Encephalopathy, BSE, after she was slaughtered on April 29. According
to an Agriculture Ministry official, the infection was found by two
rapid tests and the ministry is waiting for a confirmation by the State
Veterinary Authority which should come on Tuesday or Wednesday. Four
cows of similar age in the 70-strong herd and one descendant of the
infected cow will be slaughtered as a precautionary measure. Among the
country's previous BSE cases, two were reported last year and two in
Scientists have linked BSE to the human brain-wasting variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, which has killed about 100 people in western Europe in the past decade. No proven case of the human form of the disease has been recorded in the Czech Republic. BSE, believed to originate from cattle feed, has also been found in several animals in neighbouring Poland and Slovakia.
Over 200 people came to the village of Javoricko in Moravia on Monday to commemorate the death of 38 men who were killed by the Nazis 58 years ago. Besides the victims' relatives, members of the Czech Union of Freedom Fighters, representatives of the local authorities, and politicians attended the ceremony. On May 5 1945, over 200 Nazi officers surrounded Javoricko, shot all 38 men who were between the ages of 15 and 76 years dead, and set the village on fire. Only a school, a chapel, and a farm house with a barn can be found on the site today.
Doctors and nurses from the 7th Czech field hospital are still working under poor conditions at a local clinic in the town of Basra. The Czech hospital still lacks equipment and material, despite having been scheduled to open on Tuesday. The hospital's transportation to Iraq was launched on April 17, when the first 39 health care employees left on board a Russian-made Ruslan plane. With the responsibility having been transferred to the United States, which uses its smaller Galaxy planes and follows a different flight schedule, the transport has been delayed. Up to date, only some 51 percent of the total hospital equipment, and three-quarters of just under 300 health personnel have reached Iraq. Once fully operational, the Czech field hospital will have two operating theatres and a capacity of 50 beds. Czech doctors and nurses currently treat dozens of people every day, mostly with burns, diarrhoea and neglected chronic diseases. Czech Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik, who left for the Middle East on Monday to visit the Czech anti-chemical unit stationed at Camp Doha, Kuwait, will travel to Basra on Tuesday, to visit the Czech field hospital.