The Czech Republic has begun pulling its field hospital out of Iraq. Last month the Czech government decided to replace the hospital with a military police unit because of a lack of qualified hospital staff to rotate and keep the operation running successfully. The field hospital has been abroad without a break since April 1999, serving first in Albania, then in Turkey, Afghanistan and finally Basra, southern Iraq. The Czech army is now seeking to hire more doctors and nurses which would allow for more rotation on future missions. Meanwhile, the Czech Defence Ministry plans to start flying the Czech military police unit, which is to train Iraqi police officers, into Basra sometime next week.
President Vaclav Klaus has dismissed Jana Hybaskova from the post of Czech ambassador to Kuwait at the recommendation of the Czech government. Mrs. Hybaskova was dismissed for allegedly overstepping her powers and openly criticizing the Czech government, most recently for its decision to withdraw the Czech field hospital from Iraq. She told the CTK news agency that she understood and respected the reasons for her dismissal.
The Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has told a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels that there should be no duality in European defence structures. Mr. Svoboda openly backed the view expressed by US Secretary of State Colin Powell who told the gathering that having two parallel defence structures in Europe would be counter-productive. Secretary Powell said that Washington would support the EU's military ambitions if they were complementary to NATO rather than being parallel to it. At the conference the US Secretary of State likewise urged NATO to take a more prominent role in post-war Iraq.
The Czech Republic will once again be allowed to import crude diamonds. The Senate has now passed a crucial law on import, export and transit of crude diamonds thanks to which the country will be able to re-join the so called Kimberley process, which associates countries authorised to trade in crude diamonds. The Czech Republic was excluded from it in September because it lacked the respective legislation. The Kimberley group wants to get the worldwide flow of diamonds under control and prevent their use for funding of terrorist and guerrilla groups. In the past the Czech Republic imported about ten to twelve kilograms of crude diamonds annually.
At a press conference in Prague on Thursday, Czech film makers warned that Czech cinematography faces a serious crisis. The head of the Czech film and TV Academy Petr Vachler called for a change of legislation which would bring more funds into the business, since it was now on the brink of collapse. State support for this sphere, compared to other European states, is woefully little, Vachler said. He added that if the Czech Parliament failed to address this problem the Czech film and TV Academy would turn to the European Parliament for help.
Friday is expected to be overcast with scattered showers and day temperatures between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius.
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