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.
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.
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.
Prague's metro system returned to full service for the first time since August's floods on Saturday, with the reopening of the Palackeho namesti entrance of Karlovo namesti station on the B line. Trains on all sections of the line are also now running at normal intervals. Millions of euros worth of damage was done to Prague's underground system when large sections of it were completely submerged by the worst floods in centuries.
The Czech Republic has been ordered by an arbitration court to pay the US
based-company CME over 10 billion crowns, or around 350 million US
dollars, for failing to protect the company's investment in the Nova
television station. The London court ruling follows a similar decision in
the first phase of the legal battle over TV Nova. 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.
Meanwhile the governing Social Democrats' deputies group has called for the establishment of a committee of inquiry into the Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting's handling of the Nova affair and the activities of Mr Zelezny. Culture Minister Pavel Dostal has called for the council's dismissal.
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.
President Vaclav Klaus has condemned the unruly post-war expulsion of Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II, as well as violence committed in former Czechoslovakia during the war. Mr Klaus said that both Germany and the Czech Republic needed to be able to admit that what had happened could no longer be changed, adding that the acts of the period were unacceptable from today's point of view. Mr Klaus made the statements on the eve of the 64th anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany on March 15th, 1939.
Social Democrat Deputy Milan Urban has been proposed by the prime minister to replace outgoing Jiri Rusnok as the country's new Trade and Industry minister. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla sacked Mr Rusnok on Thursday, just two days after the coalition government won a vote of confidence in parliament. Mr Rusnok's dismissal must now be approved by the country's president Vaclav Klaus. Meanwhile, a government spokeswoman said on Friday that Mr Rusnok's removal had nothing to do with a rebellion by some Social Democrat deputies in recent presidential elections, which allowed Mr Klaus to win the post. Other observers, however, point out Mr Rusnok was a key ally of Mr Spidla's predecessor, Milos Zeman. They say by sacking Mr Rusnok the prime minister has sent a clear message to opponents within his own Social Democrat party. Providing the president approves Jiri Rusnok's dismissal, Milan Urban will take his new post in government as of next week.
President Vaclav Klaus and his predecessor Vaclav Havel have both sent telegrams of condolence to the Serbian government following Wednesday's assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Mr Klaus said he was all the more shocked because he had known Mr Djindjic personally. Former President Havel said he was appalled by the killing.
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