Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

09-04-2003

USA to partially fund Czech field hospital

Czech Deputy Defense Minister Jan Vana, told journalists on Tuesday that the American Defense Department has agreed to partially fund the deployment of the 7th Czech military field hospital to Iraq. According to Mr Vana, the US would primarily fund the transport of the field hospital, which is calculated at 188 million Czech crowns, or six and a half million US dollars. The field hospital could be sent to the region by April 18th. There is a high probability the destination will be in the vicinity of the city of Basra, where the humanitarian situation is reaching catastrophic levels. Officially, the deployment of the field hospital would not be a part of the US-led military operation in Iraq but would fall under the anti-terrorism operation Enduring Freedom.

The European Parliament has endorsed the accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union

The European Parliament has endorsed the admission of the Czech Republic into the European Union. 489 members of the European Parliament voted for the motion while 39 voted against it. An official ceremony, which is to take place next week, will mark the official accession of the Czech Republic to the EU. The European Parliament also voted for the other nine candidate countries to be admitted to the EU.

Secret Service head does not rule out spying of ministers

The head of the Czech intelligence service, Jiri Ruzek, has failed to rule out that Interior Minister Stanislav Gross and Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik are being spied on by the secret service. When asked whether his department was monitoring any of the ministers, Mr Ruzek replied that he could not give any information on whom the secret service was monitoring. Mr Ruzek's reply was met with a combination of surprise and skepticism by members of the Czech parliamentary committee for defense and security.

Parliament approves increase in budget deficit

The lower house of parliament has approved an increase to this year's budget deficit by 10.6 billion Czech crowns or just over 360 million US dollars. The money is to cover court-awarded damages that the Czech government has to pay a foreign investor. An arbitration tribunal ruled last month that the country violated an international treaty by failing to protect the investment of Bermuda-based CME in the Czech Republic's TV Nova in the 1990's. In related news, parliament is also planning vote on appointing a new Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting on the 29th of April. The TV Council was widely criticised in the wake of the arbitration ruling. So far however, parliament remains divided between the governing coalition who want to appoint the council, and the Civic Democrats and Communists who are against the move.

Exhibition of photographs of Vaclav Havel opens in Dublin

Ambassadors of the Czech Republic and France have opened an exhibition of photographs featuring the first Czech President Vaclav Havel in Dublin, Ireland. The photographs have all been taken between 1974 and 2002 by Mr Havel's personal photographer Alan Pajer who was present the ceremonial opening on Tuesday. The exhibition will run for a month at the Alliance Francaise and is expected to travel to other cities in the coming year.

Weather

The cold spell which has hit the Czech Republic should continue into Thursday with temperatures ranging from 6 to 10 degrees Celsius with a chance of showers or wet snow.

09-04-2003