In two weeks’ time, news crews from around the world are set to descend on the Czech capital for the signing of an important deal between the United States and Russia on reducing their nuclear arsenals. The planned summit comes a year after America’s president, Barack Obama, outlined his policy on arms control in a major speech at Prague Castle.
President Václav Klaus on Monday met with Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Defense Minister Martin Barták to discuss a possible increase of Czech troops in Afghanistan and organizational changes to the army ensuing from budget cuts. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen last week urged the Czech Republic to increase its presence in Afghanistan by 51 solders who would provide helicopter training and operate two clinics. Although the Czech government has already approved the increase, the plan is likely to meet with opposition in Parliament where left-wing parties are planning to reject it. The Czech Republic currently has over 500 soldiers in Afghanistan, serving on the provincial reconstruction team in Logar.
The secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has asked for increased Czech involvement in Afghanistan. He made the appeal after meeting with Czech politicians on Friday, including the country’s prime minister, Jan Fischer, and the heads of the two largest political parties, the Civic and Social Democrats. In a statement on Friday afternoon, NATO’s secretary general asked for more military training specialists as well as aid in the form of two medical clinics, but also made clear those were only part of the equation, stressing that NATO required an increase in Czech troops to take part in missions. Currently, the country has more than 500 soldiers in Afghanistan, but the government has planned to send an additional 55 troops: 15 military police to train local personnel, and 40 soldiers and two artillery hunting radars to help defend Polish bases in the province of Ghazni. The increase in troop levels was backed by Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolánek on Friday, but Jiří Paroubek's Social Democrats remain opposed to the plan. It remains unclear whether the plan will be able to pass in Parliament.
NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is in the Czech Republic for a two-day visit, primarily to drum up support for a heightened Czech military presence in Afghanistan. On Friday, Mr Rasmuseen met with the Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer, whose government has already approved an increase of Czech troops in the war-ridden country. But the decision has yet to be sanctioned by the Czech Parliament, and NATO’s Secretary General is later scheduled to meet with party leaders to try to win their support for the plan.
The secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is on a two-day visit to Prague. He is meeting with the Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, as well as the ministers of foreign affairs and defence, Jan Kohout and Martin Barták. One of the main items on Mr Rasmussen’s agenda is the Czech government’s plans to send 55 more troops to Afghanistan, where over 500 Czech soldiers are now serving. The troop increase is expected to face a major hurdle in the Czech Parliament, where the plan does not have majority support. Defence Minister Barták told Czech Television he hoped the NATO leader’s visit could help increase support for sending more soldiers to the country.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is to visit the Czech Republic next Friday. He is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Foreign Minister Jan Kohout for talks expected to focus primarily on Czech military involvement in Afghanistan. In response to a NATO request for reinforcements, the Czech government earlier approved a plan to boost the Czech contingent by 55 soldiers and operate two radars in the southern Afghani province of Logar. For the time being Parliament has confirmed the continued presence of 535 Czech soldiers in the country, most of them serving on the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Logar.
New radar scans conducted in the Church of St. Haštal in Prague have ignited anticipation that a hole in the floor near the altar may hold the lost remains of St. Agnes of Bohemia. The scans showed a crevice bearing a slab that corresponds to the dimensions of the tomb being sought, though the surveyor emphasised that the result was in no way conclusive of anything definite. Interest in the church became intense in November of last year, when an initial radar scan was said to show a casket beneath the altar. The current scan showed similar results, though in a slightly different location. The respective parish has said it would like the part of the floor in question to be raised as soon as possible so as to clear up the speculation. The remains of the 13th century saint were allegedly hidden during the Hussite Wars and have never been found. St. Agnes was canonised by Pope John Paul II just before the Velvet Revolution, and is considered a symbol of that event.
The world’s most powerful military alliance, NATO, is in the middle of a far reaching and overdue rethink of its strategy. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is leading a group tasked with pointing the way. She and other members of the group were in the Czech capital Prague on Tuesday to collect input and give some pointers where the process is heading.
The Czech foreign minister, Jan Kohout, says a new NATO strategic concept currently being prepared should strengthen security guarantees for the countries of central and eastern Europe. Mr Kohout made the comments after a conference at the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended by the Prague-born former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright. She is heading a team sounding out opinion on the new strategic concept in various NATO member states. Minister Kohout said the alliance should maintain a balance between foreign missions and the traditional defence of its members.
Over the last two years we have listened to sounds from the Czech Radio archives going back over eighty years. In this, the last of the series, we look at two of the big events of the last decade - the Czech Republic’s accession to NATO and then, five years later, to the European Union. We start with NATO, which the Czech Republic joined in March 1999 along with Hungary and Poland. In 2002 Prague hosted a major NATO summit, at which seven further Eastern and Central European countries were invited to join. At the summit, President Václav Havel
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