News of Radio Prague

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New NATO members prepare for military action

The U.S. Deputy Defence Minister, Richard Armitage, told NATO members in Brussels on Thursday that Washington is currently not in need of NATO assistance. Since last week's terrorist attacks on the United States, NATO members have been preparing for the worst - if the U.S. should decide to retaliate with a full military operation. An attack on one member is an attack on all according to article five of NATO's Washington Agreement. Bound by this agreement, the alliance's youngest members - the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary have all declared their readiness and preparedness for active involvement in a global fight against terrorism.

Poland and Czech Republic join forces to support Slovakia's aspirations for NATO membership

And staying with the military, the defence ministers of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic signed an agreement in Slovakia on Thursday to form a joint brigade before the NATO summit takes place next year in Prague. The aim of this joint venture is to increase faith in the capability of Slovakia's army. Slovakia, as opposed to Poland and the Czech Republic, was not invited to join NATO in 1999, as it was then governed by Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, whose policies were not perceived as promoting democracy. The formation of the brigade, which is to be led by a Slovak general, is aimed at increasing the country's chances of becoming a NATO member.

Czech Muslims distance themselves from terrorist attacks

The Chairman of Brno's Foundation of Islam organisation, Munib Hasan, has said Czech Muslims will not stage protests if the U.S.A. decides to launch military attacks against Afghanistan. Mr Hasan said that representatives of Islamic organisations in the Czech Republic would instead call on Muslims to live by their peaceful religion, abide by the law and behave like regular Czech citizens. Mr Hasan stressed that the Czech Republic was the country they lived in and that any future declaration of a Holy War will not concern them. He noted, however, that despite the fact that Czech Muslims have been distancing themselves from the terrorist attacks, some have had to face verbal abuse. But he was also happy to point out there has been a notable rise in the general interest in Islam - people call in frequently to find out more about what Islam preaches.

Czech citizens believed to be among NYC victims

The Czech authorities believe it to be very likely that between 10 to 15 Czech citizens who were in New York on September 11th are among the victims of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre. None of them have so far contacted their families and friends and hopes of finding them being alive and well have faded. The missing persons' relatives are expected to receive application forms by the end of the week to be filled out and forwarded to the U.S. authorities in order to help in the search.

CSA hit hard by U.S. tragedy

Czech Airlines (CSA) officials have said that they are expecting a severe drop in profits, following last week's hijacking of four passenger planes, instrumental in the fatal terrorist attacks on the United States. In an interview for the CTK news agency, CSA President Miroslav Kula said that at the start of the year, the company had estimated profits of around 340 million Czech crowns (c. 9 197 392 USD) for 2001. Now, he added, losses are expected to reach 10%, amounting to hundreds of millions of Czech crowns. According to Mr Kula, with an optimistic estimate, the airline's profits could hover around zero percent. Last week alone, the airline experienced a loss of 30 million Czech crowns (c. 811 534 USD) due to suspended flights to the U.S.

Hain meets Kavan on official visit to Prague

Britain's Deputy Foreign Minister for European Affairs, Peter Hain, visited his Czech counterpart, Jan Kavan in Prague on Thursday. The main topics of discussion included British immigration controls at Prague's Ruzyne airport, EU enlargement, and last week's terrorist attacks on the United States. Speaking at a press conference following the meeting, Mr Hain told journalists that Britain would enforce immigration controls at Prague's international airport whenever an increase in asylum seekers from the Czech Republic is recorded. When asked whether Britain viewed the Czech Republic as a second-grade country - an opinion expressed by several Czech politicians following proposed restrictions on the free movement of labour following Czech EU accession - Mr Hain assured journalists that in terms of immigration controls, there would be no distinction made between Czech and British citizens upon EU enlargement.

Zeman goes to Poland to lobby for left during general elections

The Polish Prime Minister, Jerzy Buzek, has criticised his Czech counterpart, Milos Zeman, for participating in a pre-election gathering in support of Poland's SLD-UP coalition of the Democratic Left Alliance and the Labour Union. Mr Buzek, said that Mr Zeman's involvement did not reflect democratic practices. Mr Zeman spent time in Poland this week to give moral support to SLD Leader, Leszek Miller. Poland holds its general elections on September 23rd and observers say Leszek Miller's chances of becoming the next Prime Minister are high.

Czech army looses machine gun

The Czech Defence Minister, Jaroslav Trvdik has informed the media that the Czech army has lost a machine gun. The weapon apparently fell out of a helicopter which was flying out of the Moravian capital of Brno. Mr Tvrdik was quick to point out that there was no need to panic as the gun was useless when it was not connected to the helicopter. The army immediately dispatched over 100 soldiers to search for the missing machine gun. It was found some 9.5 hours later. The weapon's fall did not cause any damage as it fell onto a field, away from populated areas.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Friday shall see cloudy skies with rain in Bohemia and partially clear skies with occasional light showers in Moravia and Silesia. Day-time temperatures are expected to range between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius. Friday night will continue to be cloudy with showers in places and night-time temperatures between 7 and 10 degrees Celsius. In fact, we can expect the rainy weather to continue throughout the week-end with day-time temperatures between 14 and 19 degrees Celsius and between 6 and 10 degrees Celsius at night.