The Czech government has said that in the event of war with Iraq the Czech Republic would support the US led alliance against the regime of Saddam Hussein. Following Wednesday's cabinet session Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said that war was "a last resort" in forcing Saddam Hussein to comply with UN Security Council resolutions. "The government regrets that it was not possible to get a UN mandate for action," Mr. Svoboda said. Czech President Vaclav Klaus said he fully agrees with the government's stand. The Czech Republic is prepared to send humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people and take an active part in the post-war reconstruction of the country.
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has cancelled a working visit to Slovakia in connection with the Iraqi crisis. The Prime Minister was to have met with the heads of government of Slovakia, Hungary and Poland to debate the international situation. According to a government spokesperson Thursday's Visegrad Group meeting in Bratislava will be attended by Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda.
The commander of the joint Czech-Slovak anti-chemical unit based in Kuwait, Dusan Lupuljev, said on Tuesday that his soldiers were in very good condition, both mentally and morally. The joint unit is ready to go into action within half an hour if weapons of mass destruction are used in Kuwait, and within two hours anywhere in the region, the commander said. Earlier this year the Czech military presence in the Persian Gulf was reinforced following a United States request for assistance in a possible war against Iraq.
Vaclav Klaus has discussed the looming war with Iraq with his Slovak counterpart, Rudolf Schuster, on what is the Czech president's first official foreign visit since being appointed earlier this month. Mr Klaus said he stood by the Czech parliament's January resolution that it would only join the United States-led war if it was approved by the United Nations, or if Iraq used weapons of mass destruction. While in Bratislava, President Klaus also held talks with the Slovak prime minister, Mikulas Dzurinda, and parliamentary chairman, Pavol Hrusovsky.
The Czech National Security Council has called an emergency session to evaluate the future security situation in the country and discuss Czech policy as war looms in Iraq. As supreme commander of the Czech armed forces President Vaclav Klaus is also to attend the session. Following growing tension in the Gulf, the Czech Republic has closed down its embassy in Baghdad. On Monday, the last two embassy officials left the Iraqi capital. According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Vit Kolar the country's consular services have been transferred to Damascus, Syria.
The government is to discuss the verdict of the arbitration case in which
the Czech Republic has been ordered to pay the US-based company CME over
10 billion crowns, or around 350 million US dollars, for failing to
protect CME's investment in the Nova television station. The Finance
Ministry said on Saturday it was preparing a variety of possible reactions
to the verdict, which it would put before the cabinet on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting has been coming under intense pressure for the way it has handled the TV Nova affair. The governing Social Democrats' deputies group has called for the council's dismissal.
In 1999 Czech media magnate Vladimir Zelezny, whose company owned Nova's broadcast licence, squeezed investor CME out of the station before relaunching it himself. Mr Zelezny, who was elected to the Senate last year, is being investigated by Czech police on a number of fraud charges.
A protest march against a possible war against Iraq has passed both the British and United States' embassies in Prague. Thousands of people took part in Sunday's anti-war demonstration, which was the second in the city in the last week. A day earlier around fifty people demonstrated in Prague against Czech accession to the European Union.
President Vaclav Klaus has praised the work of the Czech anti-chemical unit which is currently stationed in Kuwait. In a letter sent on Sunday, Mr Klaus said the troops had his trust and support, and that he was proud of them. The Czech presence in the Persian Gulf was reinforced earlier this year, following a US request for assistance in a possible war against Iraq. The Czech Republic will only send the troops into action if a second United Nations resolution is passed, or if Iraq uses weapons of mass destruction.
President Vaclav Klaus has said the Czech Republic and its neighbours must put the post-World War II expulsion of Czechoslovakia's German minority behind them. Speaking on the 64th anniversary of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, Mr Klaus said that while the past could not be changed, the events of that era were "unacceptable" from the modern perspective. After the war some three million Sudeten Germans were forced to leave the country and were stripped of their property.
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