NATO has expressed dissatisfaction with part of a Czech law on the protection of secret information. The Alliance opposes the fact that Czech MPs and Senators can gain access to secret materials without going through a security vetting procedure at the National Security Office (NBU). In a television debate on Sunday, NBU head Petr Hostek said NATO could deny the Czech Republic access to the Alliance's secret information if the law is not amended.
The media has been full of reports in recent weeks of plans by the US to build a missile defence system in Central Europe - largely a response to Iran's sabre-rattling over its nuclear programme. This summer - according to the New York Times - the Pentagon will choose between two countries: Poland and the Czech Republic. Rob Cameron spoke to Radek Khol, head of the Centre for Security Analysis at the Institute of International Relations in Prague.
The Czech Green Party says in its election programme that at some point in the future it would like to see NATO replaced by a new European defence system. This new system should be made up not only of combat units but also include police units, firemen and emergency forces in order to meet the needs of the present day, predominantly the threat of terrorism. The response to the idea on the Czech political scene has been generally negative. The opposition Civic Democrats dismissed it as utterly naïve, while the ruling Social Democrats pointed out that Europe already had a well functioning defence system.
The Senate has approved the participation of ten Czech officers in NATO's rapid reaction force from July of this year to January 15th of 2007. Defence Minister Karel Kuhnl said the Czech Republic had opted to participate symbolically in the upcoming period since it would have a leading role in the 8th rotation of the rapid reaction forces in the first half of 2007, contributing 400 troops. The ten officers will most likely remain in the Czech Republic during their mission.
This week - on March 12th - the Czech Republic will mark the 7th anniversary since the country joined NATO in 1999. Over that period the country's military has changed beyond recognition - investing in new technology, going fully professional, redefining its overall approach to warfare. Later this year, Czech soldiers will be able to serve on key foreign missions with greater impact than ever before.
Thomas McKeever, head of NATO's Security Office, is expected to pay a two day visit to the Czech Republic to discuss the situation at the National Security Office following the resignation of its head Jan Mares. Mares resigned earlier this month over suspected ties with a gang prosecuted for fraud and criminal conspiracy. The Czech Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan said there was concern at NATO headquarters as to possible information leaks. Mr. McKeever is expected to arrive in Prague on Thursday.
Domestic defence contractors want a piece of the NATO pie; The Cabinet agrees a comprehensive plan for promoting economic growth; Additional $60 million earmarked in support of Hyundai car plant project; DHL Solutions to oversee Lego Group toy maker's new European distribution centre outside Prague; New Agriculture Minister named following scandal at Czech Land Fund
Doctors report that the Czech peacekeeper who was wounded in Kosovo on Tuesday is now in stable condition. The peacekeeper was wounded in a cross-fire between NATO-led troops and illegal loggers who ignored the patrol's warning shots and demands that they stop their activity. Following the incident, the local police force arrested seven ethnic Albanians, one of whom was also wounded in the shoot-out. The Czech soldier received first aid on the spot and was air-lifted to a local hospital.
An unmanned plane flown at an exhibition during NATO Day on Saturday held in the north Moravian town of Mosnov, crashed shortly after take-off. But, a spokesman has said the public was not in any danger. Further details are to be released by the Czech Army on Monday. The plane, a "Sojka" which weighs some 140 kilograms and has a wing span of four metres, was hit by strung winds before going down.
Mustard gas or Yperite was first used as a chemical weapon by the German Army in World War I in September 1917 near the Belgian town of Ypres and took a heavy toll of casualties. In pure form, it is a colourless, oily liquid which causes blistering of the skin and severe, often fatal respiratory damage. Czech scientists have now developed a fast and environment-friendly method of neutralising the deadly chemical.