Iraq and the Czech Republic on Thursday signed an agreement on business cooperation. It is the first such agreement between the two countries since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, who is heading a government delegation to Prague, said after talks with the Czech prime minister that Iraq was still interested in the purchase of Czech L-159 fighter jets for the army. The sales transaction is to be debated at a meeting between the two countries defence ministers on Friday. The Czech Republic has moreover expressed interest in investing in Iraqi infrastructure, agriculture and the oil industry.
Commenting on the situation in Syria, Prime Minister Maliki said Iraq would never allow anyone to use its territory to supply weapons to Syria. He said his country’s borders were well guarded and Iraq was closely monitoring all flights across its territory. The prime minister said Iraq had already banned a certain country’s flight across Iraq, without specifying the country concerned. The US and some other states suspect Iran of supporting the Damascus regime by supplying weapons to it, using both air and ground routes via Iraq.
A state attorney has said the interior minister did not break the law in sacking the former police president Petr Lessy. Although the police president cannot by rights be recalled from office unless he or she commits a crime Interior Minister Jan Kubice sacked Mr. Lessy shortly after bringing accusations of abuse of office and libel against him. Mr. Lessy’s lawyer Vaclav Laska said he intended to lodge another more extensive criminal complaint against the interior minister on his client’s behalf.
On an official visit to Poland on Thursday President Klaus met with his Polish counterpart Bronislaw Komorowski, to discuss bilateral ties, European and global issues. In the evening the Czech head of state will attend a dinner given in his honour and meet with the speakers of both chambers of Parliament. During the talks President Klaus praised the quality of bilateral relations saying the two neighbouring states were close in many ways and had developed close business and trade relations. Poland is the Czech Republic’s 3rd biggest export destination with 7.3 billion euros worth of goods being exported to the country last year. Polish imports to the Czech Republic amounted to 7.1 billion euros.
Another patient has been admitted to hospital with methanol poisoning. Doctors say his condition is serious. It is not clear where he got the contaminated liquor. There are estimates that isolated cases of poisonings can appear up to 6 months after the crisis and people have been warned not to drink uncertified spirits they have at home. Meanwhile the police have arrested another salesperson who had contaminated bootleg liquor in his possession bringing the number of people charged to 26.
Health Minister Leos Heger has called on the public for more people in high-risk groups to get a seasonal vaccine against the flu. At present only about 5 percent of the population get a flu shot which is a significantly lower number than in neighbouring countries. Annually 1500 to 2000 people die of flu-related complications, most of them are elderly or chronically ill patients. Minister Heger said that if 15 percent of the population got vaccinated it would not only lower the death toll but save millions of crowns in treatment.
The transport ministry has said it will invest close to two billion crowns into modernizing some 400 rail crossings around the Czech Republic. Many crossings are considered unsafe due to malfunctioning lights, no gates or poor visibility. There are around 1000 crossings in the Czech Republic at which trains need to slow down to ten km per hour because of poor visibility and in the past three years 105 people have been killed in accidents at rail crossings.
The amount of garbage produced in the Czech Republic per inhabitant has been steadily rising in the past decade, the Czech Statistical Office reports. In 2011 Czechs produced 320 kilos of municipal waste per head i.e. 41 kilos more than in 2002. However Czechs have also improved in sorting waste and 46 kilos of the waste produced annually per inhabitant can now be recycled.
A 14-year-old boy suffered serious injuries after falling from a school window, the ctk news agency reports. The boy was airlifted to hospital and is reported to be in serious but stable condition. The incident is being investigated. The schoolmaster said the staff and the boy’s schoolmates were deeply shocked by what happened but he has ruled out negligence on the part of staff.
Czech fuel prices are reported to have decreased in the past week, with petrol Natural 95 selling for 37.93 crowns a litre, a drop of 0.10, and diesel oil prices down by three hallers to 36.90 crowns per litre. Analysts say the drop is marginal in view of the price hikes over the summer and give drivers little hope of a significant decrease in the coming months.