Czech Deputy Defense Minister Jan Vana, told journalists on Tuesday that the American Defense Department has agreed to partially fund the deployment of the 7th Czech military field hospital to Iraq. According to Mr Vana, the US would primarily fund the transport of the field hospital, which is calculated at 188 million Czech crowns, or six and a half million US dollars. The field hospital could be sent to the region by April 18th. There is a high probability the destination will be in the vicinity of the city of Basra, where the humanitarian situation is reaching catastrophic levels. Officially, the deployment of the field hospital would not be a part of the US-led military operation in Iraq but would fall under the anti-terrorism operation Enduring Freedom.
Ambassadors of the Czech Republic and France have opened an exhibition of photographs featuring the first Czech President Vaclav Havel in Dublin, Ireland. The photographs have all been taken between 1974 and 2002 by Mr Havel's personal photographer Alan Pajer who was present the ceremonial opening on Tuesday. The exhibition will run for a month at the Alliance Francaise and is expected to travel to other cities in the coming year.
The European Parliament has endorsed the admission of the Czech Republic into the European Union. 489 members of the European Parliament voted for the motion while 39 voted against it. An official ceremony, which is to take place next week, will mark the official accession of the Czech Republic to the EU. The European Parliament also voted for the other nine candidate countries to be admitted to the EU.
Should the current law on public tenders stay in effect when the Czech Republic joins the European Union, the country will not get a single cent from the EU to be used in Czech projects. Speaking to journalists in Prague on Tuesday, the head of the EC delegation's investment section, Ruud van Enk warned that the EU would stand behind foreign investors and stated that current Czech law makes it difficult for foreign companies to take part in public tenders. According a spokesman for the Ministry for Regional Development, a proposal to a new law has already been made and will most probably be passed by parliament to come into effect on January 1 2004.
The lower house of parliament, on Tuesday, decided to discuss a government proposal to send a Czech field hospital to Iraq next week on April 17. The cabinet hopes to deploy the hospital in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1472, which calls on the international community to provide the Iraqi population with immediate humanitarian aid. The Czech senate also plans to discuss the issue on April 17. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has written a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, to seek his opinion. The Defence Ministry has said the 7th field hospital was ready for deployment and could leave for the Middle East as early as April 18.
The situation in Iraq and European Union issues are expected to dominate talks on Thursday between Czech President Vaclav Klaus and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a German government spokesman said on Monday. It will be Mr Klaus's first visit to neighbouring Germany since he was appointed president just over a month ago. He will also meet his German counterpart Johannes Rau during the one-day visit.
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla and four other ministers from his Social Democratic Party should resign over an affair involving a motorway in north Moravia, the opposition Civic Democrats said on Monday. Mr Spidla and the four ministers were in the previous cabinet, led by Milos Zeman, which approved the awarding of the contract to build the D 47 motorway to an Israeli company without a public tender. Last week the government decided to abrogate the contract and to have the motorway built by the state. The police are currently investigating the awarding of the contract.
Prague's Bulovka Hospital has discharged the last of 17 patients admitted on suspicion of having contracted Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. All 17 tests proved negative. The last to leave the hospital's infection unit on Monday was a six year old girl who fell ill after a holiday in Thailand. Although no case of the deadly form of pneumonia has been confirmed in the Czech Republic strict preventive measures remain in force at all of the country's airports and the Foreign Ministry has advised Czechs not to travel to Southeast Asia.
A Czech military field hospital could leave for a temporary stay at a base in Kuwait on April 18, Deputy Defence Minister Jan Vana said on Monday. His statement came a day after MP Jan Kavan said Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla would consult the United Nations about the sending of the hospital to Iraq before submitting a proposal on the matter to parliament. The only party opposed to the deployment of the hospital is the Communists.
Tests on the controversial Temelin nuclear power station have been successfully completed, the state power company CEZ said on Monday. The announcement sets the stage for final licensing by government regulators and means the south Bohemian plant could be in full operation within weeks. Meanwhile anti-nuclear activists in Austria say they will continue their fight against Temelin, which they say is unsafe.
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