The Czech government on Wednesday approved a defence ministry proposal to send 150 soldiers to Afghanistan. According to Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka, a 120-member special-force unit will take part in the US-led Enduring Freedom operation and thirty soldiers will be part of the ISAF operation at Kabul airport. The Czech Republic was asked to deploy the soldiers by NATO.
During its session on Wednesday, the government also approved an accession protocol by which the Czech Police Force will become part of the Europol Convention (the EU's police office), when the Czech Republic joins the European Union along with Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia, in May.
Czech MPs outvoted the Senate on Wednesday to include a clause that clearly defines sexual harassment at the workplace in an amendment to the labour code. The Senate had decided to leave out a definition, fearing it would result in a wave of accusations and law suits. The amendment is yet to be approved by the president.
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla confirmed speculation on Wednesday that the Social Democratic Party, the senior ruling coalition partner, wants to see Milos Kuzvart in the European Commission. Mr Kuzvart, a current MP and former environment minister is therefore most likely to become the Czech Republic's EC representative. According to Mr Spidla, the 43-year old candidate is most suitable for the post as he speaks English and is already an active member of the environment and agriculture committees in the Council of Europe. However, not all parliamentary parties share Mr Spidla's view. Bedrich Moldan, the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats' shadow environment minister, and Ivana Janu, a judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia have also been named.
The ten countries set to join the European Union in May this year will receive a little under six billion Euros (about 7.8 billion US dollars) from the European Union to serve as rural development aid. Out of the ten future member states, the Czech Republic is to be one of the main beneficiaries, promised 542 million euros. The money compensates the low aid in the form of direct payments to farmers. A spokesman for the European Commission said on Wednesday, the sum is to cover the 2004-2006 periods and is meant for "targeted and tailor-made rural development programmes".
A new report from the Czech Statistical Office indicates that industrial production in the Czech Republic expanded in November. The Office attributes this development to a recovery in foreign orders, especially for cars. The data in the report showed that, adjusted for the number of working days, the country's industrial output grew by 9.4 percent in November from the year-earlier month, which had two more working days.
Thursday is expected to have cloudy skies with occasional snow throughout the country. Day-time temperatures are forecast between 0 to 4 degrees Celsius.
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