The Czech Republic is sending another anti-terrorist unit to Afghanistan. Over three quarters of members of parliament present voted in favour of the proposal, with only the Communists voting against. Defence Minister Karel Kuhnl said that the mission was needed because there were still terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan that posed a threat to other countries. As part of Operation Enduring Freedom, 120 Czech soldiers will be sent into the Afghan mountains to serve alongside American troops. Currently, the Czech Republic has only 43 soldiers in Afghanistan, serving with a German reconstruction team.
Pakistan has begun testing the Czech military anti-radar system Vera, with a view to a possible purchase. A Czech trade and industry ministry spokesman said that trials began at the end of December and that Pakistan would return the system in March. He added that a further export licence would be required before a final sale could be agreed, and that it would also need the approval of the foreign and interior ministries. The Vera system can detect enemy radar, without being detected itself. In the past Amnesty International has warned against exporting the system to Pakistan.
The foreign trade surplus for last year was over 41 billion crowns (1.7 billion US dollars), an increase of around 70 billion crowns on the previous financial year. This was the first time in history that exports exceeded imports. According to figures just released this was mainly due to car sales abroad. Market analysts say that exports have continued to rise, in spite of increasing energy costs and a strong Czech crown, resulting in a trade deficit for December amounting to nearly 4 billion crowns (160 million US dollars), the worst figure for that month since 1993.
The sacked president of the Czech Supreme Court Iva Brozova has filed an official complaint to a Prague court, saying that her dismissal was illegal. The complaint is directed against President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek. Ms Brozova said that the President had not given an explanation for her sacking as was required by law. The justice ministry spokesman defended the decision, saying that the Supreme Court needed stronger and more authoritative leadership.
A 12-year old boy was seriously injured on Friday, when a tram struck him at a stop in Prague 4. A spokeswoman for the emergency services said that the boy was taken to hospital with head injuries. This is the latest in a series of recent accidents at tram stops, which have led to concern over safety.
And finally a glance at the weather over the weekend. It will remain extremely cold, with night-time temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celsius, and daytime highs staying well below freezing. There should be plenty of sunshine, though on Sunday we can expect snow showers. So, good news there if you're heading for the Czech mountains.
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