Czech Defence Minister Vlasta Parkánová and her Slovak counterpart Jaroslav Baška signed an agreement on Friday towards founding a joint military unit - one of the biggest joint defence projects since Czechoslovakia's Velvet Divorce in 1993. The unit will start operating in 2009 and will be made up of 1,500 soldiers, the ministers told journalists after a Visegrad Four meeting on Friday with Ukraine. Of that, 300 soldiers and 100-member strong support team will be Slovak nationals. EU members pledged back in 2004 to form 13 battlegroups to be on alert for defence missions, with soldiers being ready for deployment to emergency areas ten days after a decision is taken. The Czech Republic is to provide a mechanised battalion, artillery systems and combat helicopters.
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