News

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Jiri Sedivy to become first Czech member of NATO command

Former Czech defence minister and current deputy minister for European affairs Jiri Sedivy will become NATO's Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning, the Czech NATO Information Centre reported on Monday. Mr Sedivy, who has won in a six-month competition out of more than 20 candidates, will assume the post in September or October this year, becoming the highest ranking Czech official in NATO ever.

Speaking to the Czech News Agency, Mr Sedivy said his appointment was an acknowledgement of Czech politics as a whole, namely for example the successful foreign missions of the Czech military. He also made it clear that he wouldn't act as a representative of the Czech Republic, but as an employee of NATO's foreign office.

Main runway of Prague's Ruzyne Airport will be closed for three weeks in August

The main runway of Prague's Ruzyne Airport will be closed for three weeks in August. During the closure, workers will apply a special anti-skid layer on the surface of the runway. The first layer was laid during the regular upkeep in April; another shut-down is planned for autumn.

Meanwhile, all flights will be re-directed to a side runway. In the past, the redirection of planes has caused higher levels of noise pollution, especially in residential areas near the airport. Plans to build a new runway have been in question for some time, but have been delayed due to problems with land ownership.

Czech soldiers to replace their colleagues in Kabul military field hospital

The Czech Army has started a regular rotation of its soldiers at a military field hospital in Afghanistan. Nearly a hundred soldiers departed from Prague's Kbely military airport to Kabul to replace their colleagues who have been on mission since March. Along with medics, several members of the Czech chemical warfare unit also left on Tuesday.

Czech soldiers also operate in other parts of Afghanistan, ensuring security and stability of the areas. On Sunday, a Czech officer was shot and wounded in southern Afghanistan. After having received medical treatment at the site of the incident, he was taken to a British military hospital. On Monday, he was transferred to the Czech field hospital in Kabul and then later to the Czech Republic. His condition is reported to be stable.

Czech troops return from Kosovo mission

The group of last 70 members of the 10th Czech contingent deployed within the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo have landed at Prague's Ruzyne Airport. The soldiers have been replaced with a new contingent that is to operate there until next January.

The Czech Republic has been participating in the Kosovo mission since 1999. The main task of the Czech troops is to maintain stability and democracy and pass greater responsibility to the local authorities. Some 440 soldiers take part in the mission, including 28 women.

Czech ambassador: parts of security bill passed by U.S. Senate make little sense

The Czech ambassador to Washington, Petr Kolar, has said that some parts of the security bill recently passed by the American Senate don't make much sense. The bill, which may eventually lead to inclusion of the Czech Republic as well as other Central European countries in the visa-waiver programme, also introduces the duty to accept former citizens of the country for repatriation from the United States, even though they would not be their citizens. Speaking on Czech Radio on Monday, Mr Kolar described this as a difficult legal issue. The changes in the visa waiver programme still need to be signed by the U.S. President.

Hospital must pay half a million crowns in damages following malpractice ruling

A regional court has ruled that a hospital in Sokolov in West Bohemia must pay almost 600,000 crowns (USD 30,000) in damages to a woman who suffered health problems as a result of two operations in 1990. The woman's health problems resulted from a piece of cloth left in her body during the first surgery. Just a month ago, a surgeon from Krnov was ordered to pay 50,000 crowns (USD 2,500) in damages in a similar case.

Singer Gipsy appointed ambassador for minorities

Radoslav "Gipsy" Banga, the singer for the popular Czech Gipsy.cz band, has been appointed an ambassador for minorities as part of the European Year of Equal Opportunities aimed at battling discrimination. Gipsy and several Roma activists met with minister without portfolio Džamila Stehlíková in charge of human rights and minorities on Monday to discuss their future cooperation.

Weather

The following days are expected to be partly cloudy with highest daytime temperatures between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius.