NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has called for an end to the ethnic violence between Serbs and Albanians in the south Serbian province of Kosovo which has claimed at least 22 lives. Speaking during a short visit to Prague, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said he had been on the phone to "all the relevant players" in Pristina and Belgrade following the worst ethnic violence in the Serbian province since it was put under UN administration in 1999. The NATO chief also appealed to the media to show restraint in reporting. Mr De Hoop Scheffer visited Prague briefly on Thursday to mark the fifth anniversary of the Czech Republic's accession to NATO.
A Slovak member of the Czech-Slovak battalion at the KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo has been injured in the latest outbreak of violence. The soldier is reported to have suffered concussion when a demonstrator hit him with a stone on Thursday. According to unit commander Josef Kopecky, the soldiers have been trying to mediate between Serbian and Albanian mobs who are looting and burning the houses of the opposite ethnic group near the regional capital of Pristina. The joint Czech-Slovak battalion is responsible for the northeast portion of Kosovo, primarily its border with Serbia.
The Czech Republic has received a list of requests sent to NATO by Greece, calling for aid in protecting the Olympic Games in Athens this summer, Defence Ministry spokesman Ladislav Sticha said. Mr Sticha declined to give any details of Greece's requests, saying that the material was classified. However, it is likely that the Czech Republic will send its special anti-chemical unit. Greece first asked for NATO aid during the Summer Olympics last week, saying it should include protection of airspace, joint sea patrols, and protection against nuclear, biological, and chemical attack.
President Vaclav Klaus has criticised the Czech Republic's legal system, saying there are too many laws. In his first address to the upper house of the Czech Parliament, the Senate, since his election as president last year, Mr Klaus also criticised what he called quick changes to the legal system. President Klaus added that instead of producing new legislation, politicians should try to revise and reduce the existing number of laws.
Temperature records have been broken across the country for the second day in a row with the maximum of over 23 degrees Celsius recorded in west Bohemia on Wednesday. Temperature in Prague rose to 20.4 degrees Celsius at 2 pm on Thursday, which is 2.2 degrees more than on March 18th, 1990 - which was until Thursday the warmest March 18th since records began in Prague in 1775.
No temperature records are expected on Friday as Thursday was probably the warmest day of this week. Friday should be slightly cooler, with daytime temperatures hovering around 16 degrees Celsius.
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