Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

08-10-2001

Czech politicians express unreserved support for US military action

Czech politicians have expressed unreserved support for the US and British military action against terrorist targets in Afghanistan . President Havel stressed that this was not an attack against Islam or one nation but an attack against terrorism in defense of values shared by the democratic world regardless of race or religion. There are certain moments in history when these values need to be defended with weapon in hand, the Czech President said. He appealed to Czechs not to panic but said that certain sacrifices might have to be made.

In a televised debate Vaclav Klaus expressed appreciation of the fact that the US had not responded in a rash manner to the terrorist attack against civilian targets but had taken the time and effort to find the necessary proof and weigh its options carefully. The Speaker of the Lower House Vaclav Klaus said that although the use of force was always a sad thing in this case there was no possible alternative.

Government spokesman Libor Roucek said the United States could count on political, moral and military support from the Czech Republic. The Czech government has offered the United States military units, including the anti-chemical warfare unit that took part in the Persian Gulf War, field hospitals and most recently airline carriers to transport equipment and troops.

Security tightened around all potential targets

The Czech Interior Minister Stanislav Gross has ordered tighter security around the US embassy in Prague, Radio Free Europe and other potential terrorist targets.

The ministers of the interior, defense and foreign affairs held an emergency meeting on Sunday night to evaluate the security situation in the Czech Republic and concluded that for the present time there was no direct threat to the country and that the measures in place were adequate. In view of Bin Laden's Sunday admission the Czech Interior Ministry is expected to tighten security around Israeli institutions as well.

The interior minister said that in view of this new global threat the Cabinet was also preparing an amendment to the law which would give the Czech Intelligence Service greater powers.

Defense Minister could order hijacked plane to be shot down

The Czech Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Rychetsky has confirmed that although Czech law does not allow shooting down a hijacked civilian airliner , there is an article on emergencies and public safety which would allow the Defense Minister to issue such an order . The article says that in an emergency a decision leading to loss of life which has been made in order to prevent a far greater loss of life would not be considered criminal. The Czech Cabinet is to discuss the matter at its next session. According to Deputy Prime Minister Rychetsky, who has been asked to present a legal analysis pertaining to such a situation, such a decision should remain within the competence of the military rather than be transferred to top government or parliament officials.

Majority of Czechs now want modern fighter jets for the army

The number of Czechs who are in favour of the government's acquiring a fleet of modern fighter jets for the army has tripled since the terrorist attacks on September 11th . According to an opinion poll conducted last week 35% of Czechs think the government should purchase them without delay, 30% of respondents think they should be acquired as soon as the country's financial situation enables it. A year and a half ago only 11% of Czechs thought the Czech Republic needed new fighter jets.

The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman likewise sees the terrorist attacks against the United States as a strong argument in favour of making the purchase. He has suggested that all parliamentary parties should join in the debate. The question whether or not to replace the Czech Armed Forces' fleet of outdated fighter jets with modern planes has been a matter of controversy mainly due to the financial burden that such a purchase would impose.

Rescue team to search for missing students

A nine member rescue team has arrived in Skadar, Albania to search for three Czech students who have been missing since early August. The three students – two boys and a girl in their twenties – were on a mountaineering expedition from which they disappeared without trace.

Weather

We can expect another overcast and foggy night with temperatures between 9 and 13 degs C. Monday should bring partly cloudy skies, rain in places and day temps between 18 and 22 degs C.

08-10-2001