The commander of the joint Czech and Slovak anti-chemical unit base in Kuwait, Dusan Lupuljev, has described the situation there as calm, due to the temporary halt of US-led ground troops moving further into Iraq. The commander made the statement in a telephone interview with journalists on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Czech Army is currently waiting for approval by parliament this week to send a field hospital to the region. Last week sixteen elite Czech special forces soldiers were dispatched to Kuwait to increase security over increased fears over possible terrorist attacks against individual units. The Czech and Slovak anti-chemical units count 385 and 69 soldiers, respectively,
The commissioner for EU expansion Gunter Verheugen has called the referendum on EU accession the 'decision of the century' for Czechs. Mr Verheugen, who is currently in Prague, spoke to delegates at the Social Democratic Party's national convention, praising Prime Minister Spidla's efforts towards accession. In discussion with Social Democrat delegates the commissioner outlined what he saw as the only two possibilities: to either join the EU outright, or at least become part of the European economic zone.
Cyril Svoboda and Petr Mares, the leaders of the two junior government parties, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, have welcomed Vladimir Spidla's re-election as chairman of the Social Democratic Party, with Mr Mares saying 'it was an opportunity for the government to begin working together more effectively'. Earlier on Saturday both men addressed the Social Democrats' party convention, saying they were in favour of upholding the current governing coalition, and stressing that key tasks lay ahead that were 'more important' than any problems with coalition rule. Questions currently facing the government include: long awaited fiscal and pension reforms, as well as the upcoming referendum on EU accession.
Officials at the Defence Ministry have revealed the ministry is preparing to ask parliament to approve sending a military field hospital to support US-led coalition forces in Iraq. Under the proposal, lawmakers may be asked to give a green light to the Czech Army's 7th field hospital unit -- with 50 doctors and 100 support staff - to go into operation in or around the city of Basra in southern Iraq. Although plans have not yet been finalised, the field hospital could be accompanied by additional soldiers and could be assigned to care for injured civilians, a ministry spokesman told the German news agency DPA on Friday. If confirmed the unit would become the second Czech military contingent operating in the Gulf. Some 385 army specialists with a nuclear, biological and chemical weapons detection unit have already been stationed in Kuwait.
Officials at the Defence Ministry have revealed the ministry is preparing to ask parliament to approve sending a military field hospital to support US-led coalition forces in Iraq. Under the proposal, lawmakers may be asked to give a green light to the Czech Army's 7th field hospital unit -- with 50 doctors and 100 support staff - to go into operation in or around the city of Basra in southern Iraq. Although plans have not yet been finalised, the field hospital could be accompanied by additional soldiers and could be assigned to care for injured civilians, a ministry spokesman told the German news agency DPA on Friday. If confirmed the unit would become the second Czech military contingent operating in the Gulf. Some 385 army specialists with a nuclear, biological and chemical weapons detection unit - working alongside a similar unit of 69 Slovak experts - have already been stationed in Kuwait.
The US has asked the Czech Republic to provide a liason officer to take part in a team that would be responsible for civilian administration in a post-war Iraq. The information was released on Friday with Deputy Foreign Minister Rudolf Jindrak saying Czech officials were currently discussing the US request. However, the specifics for the renewal of Iraq remain unclear at this time: it is not yet certain whether the country would be administered by the UN, the US, or Great Britain after the war. The Czech Republic pledged its support for an EU resolution last week stressing the UN play a key role in the future of a post-war Iraq.
The Czech Republic will answer Turkey's request for humanitarian aid. An aid package worth an estimated 5 million Czech crowns will be sent by the end of the week. The emergency aid is to help refugees fleeing the war in Iraq. The shipment includes field kitchens, tents, and blankets. According to the CTK press agency the Czech Republic has said it would be willing to accept 500 war refuges at this point in time. In a related development, the Czech Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik said on Thursday that in the event of a humanitarian crisis in Iraq the Czech Republic would not wait for UN approval to dispatch a field hospital to the region. The field hospital should be ready to depart as of April 1st.
Members of the joint Czech-Slovak anti-chemical unit stationed in Kuwait were called on to investigate a missile attack on Kuwait city on Thursday on suspicion that it may have contained a biological or chemical warhead. A chemical alert was called in the Kuwaiti capital as initial tests did not rule out the possibility of a biological weapons attack. However a detailed analysis of the suspicious substance revealed a harmless type of bacteria which is generally present in water cleaning facilities. The head of the Czech anti-chemical unit Dusan Lupuljev said it had been a tense morning.
A unit of specialised forces have left for Kuwait to protect the joint Czech-Slovak anti-chemical unit if it should be called upon to enter Iraqi territory. The specialised unit includes sixteen soldiers from the Czech Republic's elite forces based in Prostejov, central Moravia. The Czech-Slovak anti-chemical unit would only be allowed to enter Iraq to provide humanitarian aid if chemical or biological weapons were used in the war. Following consultations with US officials the Czech Republic decided to give the anti-chemical unit additional protection in light of an increase in guerrilla war tactics by Iraq against the allied forces.
The director of the Czech Secret Service, Jiri Ruzek, told the BBC on Wednesday that Iraqi agents plotted an attack on the Prague headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The planned strike was intended to stop the US-funded station from broadcasting to Iraq. This marks the first time that that Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was confirmed as a target for a terrorist attack by a Czech official. Security at the station's headquarters was stepped up after the September 11th terrorist attacks on the US. The station's headquarters are near the top of Wenceslas Square, a highly populated area adjacent to a vital Prague highway.
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