Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

30-04-2003

Defence minister: several options for air defence on the table

Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik is currently weighing four possible options for securing the defence of Czech airspace, among them the possibility of either buying a series of new fighter jets, relying on NATO as an alliance member, or negotiating temporary use of older British Tornado fighter jets for an interim period, before buying 24 new aircraft. The Czech Republic currently needs to replace its ageing Russian-built MiG-21 fleet. Speaking to journalists on Wednesday Minster Tvrdik said he favoured securing air defence through national means. The minister met with his British counterpart Geoff Hoon, in Prague, to discuss possibilities, with Mr Hoon indicating that Great Britain would react to concrete requests. According to Mr Tvrdik, Czech experts will now put together a concrete proposal. The Defence Minister is expected to visit Great Britain next month.

Czech ambassador to Kuwait indicates setting up of field hospital no simple task

The Czech ambassador to Kuwait Jana Hybaskova has indicated there have been minor complications in preparations underway to set up the Czech Republic's 7th field hospital in Basra, southern Iraq. The reason: an overwhelming amount of activity over the transfer of US equipment and personnel in Kuwait, presenting a logistics problem for the Czech hospital team. At the same time the ambassador expressed hope that the target date of May 6th for setting up the hospital would be met. She stressed that Czech medical personnel had began treating patients already. On Tuesday Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik also expressed full confidence the deadline would be kept.

Leap in number of Chechens seeking asylum in Czech Rep

The month of April has seen a dramatic leap in the number of Chechen nationals seeking asylum in the Czech Republic, a total of almost 700 new cases, up from just 54 in March. Chechen nationals have been arriving in the Czech Republic via Poland, many allegedly because they believe it to be easier to seek asylum here. Those seeking asylum in the Czech Republic at the Polish border must register at a refugee camp in a town in the Frydek-Mistek region in north-eastern Moravia. Already the facility is overfull. Normally it has room for 600 people, but it is currently housing an additional 200 refugees.

Information minister to vacate Parliament post

The Information Minister Vladimir Mlynar has announced his intention to vacate his Parliament post. Mr Mlynar, who is a member of the Freedom Union, said his responsibilities as information minister were a priority. The minister his decision was also partly based on health reasons, after doctors diagnosed what appears to be a benign tumour behind his left eye. Doctors have decided not to operate for the time being.

Finance Ministry recommends the government commit to lowering the public finance deficit

The Finance Ministry has recommended the government commit to lowering the public finance deficit. Year on year the deficit share of public budgets on the GDP should be lowered by 0.7 percent, a spokeswoman for the ministry said on Wednesday. The recommendation indicates a more aggressive approach to public finance reform. Government experts will meet on Sunday to discuss the issue.

Weather

Thursday is expected to be sunny with daytime temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius.

30-04-2003