The Senate has approved the participation of ten Czech officers in NATO's rapid reaction force from July of this year to January 15th of 2007. Defence Minister Karel Kuhnl said the Czech Republic had opted to participate symbolically in the upcoming period since it would have a leading role in the 8th rotation of the rapid reaction forces in the first half of 2007, contributing 400 troops. The ten officers will most likely remain in the Czech Republic during their mission.
This week - on March 12th - the Czech Republic will mark the 7th anniversary since the country joined NATO in 1999. Over that period the country's military has changed beyond recognition - investing in new technology, going fully professional, redefining its overall approach to warfare. Later this year, Czech soldiers will be able to serve on key foreign missions with greater impact than ever before.
Thomas McKeever, head of NATO's Security Office, is expected to pay a two day visit to the Czech Republic to discuss the situation at the National Security Office following the resignation of its head Jan Mares. Mares resigned earlier this month over suspected ties with a gang prosecuted for fraud and criminal conspiracy. The Czech Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan said there was concern at NATO headquarters as to possible information leaks. Mr. McKeever is expected to arrive in Prague on Thursday.
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Doctors report that the Czech peacekeeper who was wounded in Kosovo on Tuesday is now in stable condition. The peacekeeper was wounded in a cross-fire between NATO-led troops and illegal loggers who ignored the patrol's warning shots and demands that they stop their activity. Following the incident, the local police force arrested seven ethnic Albanians, one of whom was also wounded in the shoot-out. The Czech soldier received first aid on the spot and was air-lifted to a local hospital.
An unmanned plane flown at an exhibition during NATO Day on Saturday held in the north Moravian town of Mosnov, crashed shortly after take-off. But, a spokesman has said the public was not in any danger. Further details are to be released by the Czech Army on Monday. The plane, a "Sojka" which weighs some 140 kilograms and has a wing span of four metres, was hit by strung winds before going down.
Mustard gas or Yperite was first used as a chemical weapon by the German Army in World War I in September 1917 near the Belgian town of Ypres and took a heavy toll of casualties. In pure form, it is a colourless, oily liquid which causes blistering of the skin and severe, often fatal respiratory damage. Czech scientists have now developed a fast and environment-friendly method of neutralising the deadly chemical.
The Czech army wants to put its state-of-the-art Vera radar system at the disposal of NATO from the beginning of next year, according to the defence ministry's press department. The mobile system is able to discover the presence of a different radar system and determine its type without being revealed. It can monitor up to 200 planes simultaneously and is able to define the distance and altitude of any target with great accuracy.
It has been six years since the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO. Since then, the Alliance has changed significantly. Before its expansion, it had never fought a war. But less than two weeks after the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, joined on March 12, 1999, the NATO launched a 78-day military operation in Kosovo. Two years later the terrorist attacks on the United States led to the adoption of the collective defence "Article 5", which suddenly gave NATO operations a worldwide dimension. So how has the Czech
Czech President Vaclav Klaus, in Brussels on Tuesday for a NATO summit,
said discussions between the US president, George Bush, and European
leaders showed that differences of opinions over some issues had not
affected the fundamental basis of transatlantic relations. Mr Klaus held
brief talks with Mr Bush, and the US secretary of state, Condoleeza Rice.
Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, who was also in Brussels on Tuesday, said NATO had a future and would play a key role in securing the stability of Europe.
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