Defence minister: Czech military stationed in Iraq likely to round up mission by end of 2004

The Czech Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka has revealed that he does not expect Czech military personnel currently serving in Iraq to continue their mission next year. 90 Czech military police officers have been stationed in Iraq since the beginning of 2004, training Iraqi police officers ahead of the transfer of power on June 30th; Parliament has given Czech specialists a mandate to be Iraq until the end of the year. On Monday Mr Kostelka told journalists that the Czech Army's foreign missions needed to be reduced, as the military was also running continuing missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo. He said that although the Czech Army had proved capable of taking part in three missions at once, it was not ideal with regards to on-going reforms. Still, Mr Kostelka did indicate a final decision on forces in Iraq would ultimately lie with "the politicians".

First 24 Greek military chemical specialists arrive in Prague

Twenty-four Greek military specialists have arrived in Prague to attend a one-week chemical protection course in the Czech Republic. The chemicals and medical specialists arrived at Prague's Kbely airport on Monday ahead of training in Vyskov, south Moravia, connected with guarding this summers Olympic Games which kick-off in Athens on August 13th. A total of 48 Greek soldiers will receive instruction, working directly with toxic materials and learning to handle the psychology of contamination scenarios.

Meanwhile, talks between Greece and NATO are underway discussing the possibility of actually sending Czech military chemical specialists to Athens. So far, NATO has not officially requested Czech help on Greek soil.

Klaus: Stoiber's comments "undignified"

President Vaclav Klaus has criticised as "undignified" comments made by Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber at the weekend regarding the so-called Benes Decrees. The decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of 2.5 million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II, remain a point of controversy and contention for some German and Austrian politicians. On Sunday Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber repeated a call for the decrees' abolishment, saying they had no place in the European Union. Mr Stoiber added that unless the Czech Republic condemned the post-war expulsion of Germans he would not pay an official visit to the country. Responding on Monday, however, Czech President Vaclav Klaus said the decrees were "untouchable" - saying any attempt to have them abolished was an attempt to rewrite history.

Pat Cox, in Prague, indicates he would be willing to run for EU Commission presidency

The head of European Parliament Pat Cox -in Prague on Monday -indicated he would be willing to run for the post of president of the European Commission. Speaking in Prague, Mr Cox added however, he did not know whether he would be asked to do so. In a little under one month's time current EU Commission president Romano Prodi will step down from his post to be replaced by a new head of the Commission elected by the European Council. Names that have been mentioned in connection with the post along with Mr Cox include Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, considered the favourite, as well as others like Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel, or European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten.

Doctors in Usti nad Labem help two recover from deadly meningitis

Doctors in the north Bohemian town of Usti nad Labem helped save two patients suffering from meningitis hospitalised last week. The two patients, aged 29 and 39, were admitted to hospital in critical condition, but both are now out of danger, doctors have said. Since the beginning of the year the Usti region in north Bohemia has registered a total of nine patients who came down with the disease, four of whom died, two infants and two young adults. Following two recent deaths council members in Usti decided to contribute 2 million crowns for the vaccination of young people in the region.


Tuesday is expected to see light showers with daytime temperatures of 14 degrees Celsius.