The Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has expressed support for a common European defense and foreign policy. Addressing an audience at the Johan Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt Mr. Spidla said that while Europe had become an economic power, foreign policy and defense wise it was a midget. A European defense force should help to restore balance within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Czech Prime Minister said. He appealed for European unity pointing out that in the present day no European country was in a position to defend its interests alone.
Czech Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik has visited the city of Basra in
southern Iraq where work is underway on the setting up of a Czech field
hospital. The team of Czech doctors and nurses are already working in
makeshift conditions, providing medical care to several hundred
patients a day. The hospital should be fully operational by mid May.
Speaking to journalists later the minister said he was shocked by the
plight of the locals and proud of the work of the Czech field hospital
team. "They are professionals of which the Czech Republic can be truly
proud" the minister said.
Wednesday is expected to bring partly cloudy to overcast skies with rain in the north-western and eastern parts of the Czech Republic. Day temperatures between 21 and 28 degrees Celsius.
Czech officials are investigating what may be the country's fifth case
of mad-cow disease. A six-year-old milk cow on a farm in the south
Moravian town of Dolni Lazany tested positive for Bovine Spongiform
Encephalopathy, BSE, after she was slaughtered on April 29. According
to an Agriculture Ministry official, the infection was found by two
rapid tests and the ministry is waiting for a confirmation by the State
Veterinary Authority which should come on Tuesday or Wednesday. Four
cows of similar age in the 70-strong herd and one descendant of the
infected cow will be slaughtered as a precautionary measure. Among the
country's previous BSE cases, two were reported last year and two in
Scientists have linked BSE to the human brain-wasting variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, which has killed about 100 people in western Europe in the past decade. No proven case of the human form of the disease has been recorded in the Czech Republic. BSE, believed to originate from cattle feed, has also been found in several animals in neighbouring Poland and Slovakia.
Over 200 people came to the village of Javoricko in Moravia on Monday to commemorate the death of 38 men who were killed by the Nazis 58 years ago. Besides the victims' relatives, members of the Czech Union of Freedom Fighters, representatives of the local authorities, and politicians attended the ceremony. On May 5 1945, over 200 Nazi officers surrounded Javoricko, shot all 38 men who were between the ages of 15 and 76 years dead, and set the village on fire. Only a school, a chapel, and a farm house with a barn can be found on the site today.
Doctors and nurses from the 7th Czech field hospital are still working under poor conditions at a local clinic in the town of Basra. The Czech hospital still lacks equipment and material, despite having been scheduled to open on Tuesday. The hospital's transportation to Iraq was launched on April 17, when the first 39 health care employees left on board a Russian-made Ruslan plane. With the responsibility having been transferred to the United States, which uses its smaller Galaxy planes and follows a different flight schedule, the transport has been delayed. Up to date, only some 51 percent of the total hospital equipment, and three-quarters of just under 300 health personnel have reached Iraq. Once fully operational, the Czech field hospital will have two operating theatres and a capacity of 50 beds. Czech doctors and nurses currently treat dozens of people every day, mostly with burns, diarrhoea and neglected chronic diseases. Czech Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik, who left for the Middle East on Monday to visit the Czech anti-chemical unit stationed at Camp Doha, Kuwait, will travel to Basra on Tuesday, to visit the Czech field hospital.
Czech politicians, WWII veterans and Prague citizens, on Monday, gathered outside the Czech Radio building to commemorate the 1945 Prague Uprising. The commemorative ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, deputy chairman of the Senate Premysl Sobotka, and the deputy mayor of Prague Petr Hulinsky, who laid wreaths in front of the Czech Radio Building and paid homage to the memory of those who lost their lives. The Prague Uprising began on May 5th, 1945 with a call to arms, broadcast on the radio. Around 30,000 people spontaneously joined the freedom fighters in the Czech capital.
Czech tennis professional Bohdan Ulihrach, who on Friday received a two-year doping ban and was fined over 43,000 dollars, has vowed to fight on. Ulihrach tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone in October last year during an ATP event in Moscow. He then requested an independent Tennis Anti-Doping Program tribunal to look into the matter and they ruled he had committed an offence. As Bohdan Ulihrach had voluntarily stopped playing on the ATP tour in October after first testing positive, the two-year ban will expire in October next year. Ulihrach said on Sunday that the verdict was a "shock". Ulihrach's coach, Martin Nekola said that they would appeal against the verdict. Bohdan Ulihrach has won three singles titles and has been in the top 100 of the world for seven years, winning over 3 million dollars in total prize money.
Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the junior coalition partner, the
Freedom Union Petr Mares said on Sunday that he would on principle
approve of possible stationing of US army units in the Czech Republic.
Speaking in a televised debate Mr Mares said he would not object to
stationing allied units on Czech territory if it were in harmony with
the Czech Republic's commitments as a NATO member and if it improved
the country's defence ability. According to speculation, the United
States is considering moving its troops from Germany eastwards. While
the possibility of the deployment of US troops is accepted positively
in Poland, Czech politicians' positions on the issue differ.
President Vaclav Klaus has adopted a reserved stance and pointed to a parallel with the presence of the Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia after it was occupied by the former Warsaw pact armies in 1968. Reacting to President Klaus's statement Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said that American troops could be stationed in the Czech Republic.
For the first time, both units of the Temelin nuclear power plant started operating at full power on Saturday, two and a half years after the opening of the plant, which has been the object of protests and hunger strikes. Both the reactor's 1,000-megawatt units are to run at full power for a trial period before they are giving a passing grade and licenced for commercial electrical production. Although given a green light by international and Czech atomic power experts, the plant has been plagued by technical problems and delays since its first unit began operating in October 2000. The technical faults and Temelin's proximity to the Austrian and German borders have stirred years of protests in those countries. For nearly three years, Temelin protesters have blocked roads at the Czech-Austrian border, staged hunger strikes, threatening to block the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union in 2004.
Czech hygiene officers and representatives of the Health, Interior, Foreign and Industry Ministries are finalising the preparation of registration cards that passengers flying to the Czech Republic would be asked to fill out should an epidemic of the pneumonia-like disease SARS hit Europe. Prague's chief hygiene officer Vladimir Polanecky has said that in order to isolate persons infected with SARS it is necessary to know whom they have been in touch with. Passengers would hand in the registration cards to immigration officers, who would store them for twenty days. Afterwards the cards would be shredded.