The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman went live on national television on Tuesday night to pledge Czech support in the fight against international terrorism. The Prime Minister said that retaliatory action could take place within days or even hours and that the Czech Republic would stand fully behind the United States -not just with words but with deeds. On September 11th the world was divided into two camps into people who respect freedom and human life and fanatics who have no regard for them. One does not negotiate with terrorists one fights them, the Czech Prime Minister said.
As NATO invokes the alliance's collective defense clause in support of the United States, the Czech government has reiterated an offer of support, including military support. "The facts presented to NATO's Security Council were clear and compelling and the Czech Republic is prepared to aid the United States in whatever way possible" a Czech foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday. Although Washington has not so far asked for military assistance from NATO, the Czech government has offered military units, including the anti- chemical warfare units that took part in the Persian Gulf War. The Czech offer also includes humanitarian help, intelligence sharing and over-flight rights.
Amidst increased security concerns following the terrorist attacks against US civilian targets last month, the US ambassador to the Czech Republic Craig Stapleton has said that he considers the security measures effected around US institutions in the Czech Republic to be adequate. During a meeting with the chairman of the Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee, Senator Michael Zantovsky, ambassador Stapleton said that although the security situation could change, under the present circumstances he felt that the US embassy, the American Cultural Centre and other US institutions in the country were adequately protected. The statement comes amidst heated debates as to whether or not armored vehicles should surround the US embassy as they do Radio Free Europe. Prague-based Radio Free Europe, which broadcasts news programmes in a number of languages to audiences from Albania to Iraq and Tajikistan, is considered a prime target and is protected by a barrier of armored vehicles, soldiers and security guards . Some military experts say that no matter what security measures are taken the glass building in the city centre remains far too vulnerable and that the station should be re-located.
The Czech Republic has won important concessions from the EU regarding the controversial free movement of labor chapter. In a reciprocal move to the seven year transition period, EU officials have accepted the Czech Republic's right to protect its own labor market against an influx of foreign workers from EU member states. Czech negotiators in Brussels say that although the bilateral talks took longer than expected, the Czech Republic has struck a much better deal with the EU than other frontrunners. The seven year transition period which will restrict movement of labor following the EU's eastward expansion has been a thorn in the side of candidate countries but all have excepted a watered-down version of the original proposal under which EU member states will revise the deal after a two year period. Not all EU members plan to implement this prerogative. Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands have said they are not worried by cheap labor from the East. The Czech Republic is engaged in intensive bilateral negotiations with individual EU members on the matter.
The French bank Societe General has acquired a 60 percent stake in Komercni Banka, a leading Czech bank, at the price of 40 billion Czech crowns. The Czech National Bank gave the transaction official approval on Tuesday, validating the contract. Societe General will take managerial control over Komercni Banka on Monday, October 8th.
The four party coalition, a grouping of four centre right opposition parties, has tabled a proposed law under which the Czech president would be elected in a direct vote. According to Karel Kuhnl, leader of the four party coalition, a direct election by the people would increase the president's authority although his powers would remain unchanged. The proposed law also aims to change the status of political immunity for deputies, senators and judges from life-long to temporary. The four party coalition is hoping to see the law approved before next year's parliamentary elections.
Police in the north Bohemian town of Liberec are searching for the author of handwritten leaflets which express approval of the terrorist attacks against the United States. The leaflets which are signed " fourth resistance" describe US President George Bush as a warmonger and say that Americans only got what they deserved. Several dozen of these hand written leaflets were allegedly thrown into people's letter boxes. Their authorship and distribution is a criminal act under Czech law and their author could be charged with advocating terrorism.
The bout of warm and sunny weather we're now enjoying here in central Europe is expected to last for another day . Wednesday should bring more sunshine and day temps between 21 and 25 degs C. A cold front should make itself felt sometime on Thursday bringing temperatures down by five to six degrees.
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