Lower house rejects government bonds for military campaigns
A financial dispute pitting the Social Democrat government against parliament has raised questions about the Czech Republic's ability to finance its contribution to the U.S.-led "war on terrorism." The government is asking parliament to approve a 35 million-dollar funding package to pay for deploying a Czech army field hospital in Afghanistan and a chemical warfare unit in Kuwait, as requested by the United States and Britain. But earlier this week the lower house rejected the plan to finance the missions through the issuing of state-backed bonds. Rob Cameron has more.
The country has been praised for its willingness to commit its forces, British Prime Minister Tony Blair publicly thanked his Czech counterpart Milos Zeman on Monday during a visit to Prague. But one day later, the lower house of parliament rejected the government's proposal to finance the operations by issuing state-backed bonds, the opposition Civic Democrats saying the cabinet should find the money in the budget. Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik was deeply disappointed following the vote.
"It's an extremely unpleasant situation. The lower house has approved the issuing of bonds on several occasions, and I can only put the decision down to the pre-election atmosphere. But I'm convinced that common sense will win the day, and that we will find a solution."