News of Radio Prague

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Tvrdik plans to send 120 soldiers to Afghanistan

The Czech Defence Minister, Jaroslav Tvrdik, plans to send some 120 Czech soldiers to Afghanistan to take part in the international anti-terrorist operation 'Enduring Freedom'. The soldiers are to be members of a special forces unit and will be deployed on February 1st next year if the operation is given the green light from both government and parliament. The mission is not to exceed a period of four months. The defence minister expects to finance the operation by calling back most members of the Czech anti-chemical unit, currently in Kuwait, by the beginning of next year instead of in May 2003 as initially planned.

Insurance companies lower flood damage estimates

The Czech Insurers' Association revealed on Thursday that the estimates of damage caused by last month's floods were reduced from 30.6 billion Czech crowns to 29.7 billion crowns. The number of flood-related claims recorded by the 17 insurance companies that are part of the association also fell from 100,000 to 78,000. Employees of the insurance companies have already inspected all of their clients' damaged properties, with the exception of smaller cases of flooded cellars or partially damaged weekend cottages. Insurance companies hope to cover the claims of most of their clients by the end of this year.

Two months to go before compensation claims deadline

The Czech Foreign Ministry reminds all victims of forced and slave labour in WWII Austria that they have two months left to file claims for compensation. The deadline for all applications is November 27th. According to Jan Sechter from the ministry's department that co-ordinates the compensation process, however, many former forced and slave labourers feel they have no chances of being compensated as they lack the necessary documents. He pointed out that in numerous cases, the missing documents have been found in Austrian and German archives. So far, Austria has already allocated about a billion Czech crowns to 10,326 victims. Former slave labourers can expect to receive 230,000 Czech crowns. Forced labourers made to work in the industrial sectors will receive 77,000 Czech crowns and those forced to work in agriculture get 44,000 crowns.

Czech Republic to close EU economic chapter next week

The Czech Republic will most likely close the economic chapter in EU accession talks at a conference in Brussels on Tuesday. According to Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Miroslav Somol, it will most probably be the only chapter that Czech representatives will discuss next week. Negotiation around the economic chapter was long and hard as both sides wanted their own terms regarding the reconstruction of the steel sector. The closing document of the chapter is expected to contain detailed conditions under which the Czech Republic is to go ahead with the restructuring.

Number of illegal immigrants on the rise

The number of foreigners crossing borders into the Czech Republic illegally is on the rise. In 2001 alone, the north-Moravian border police detained 1900 refugees, some 700 more than in the year before. This year so far, 1300 foreigners have tried to get into the Czech Republic. According to a foreign police spokesperson, most illegal immigrants are smuggled into the country with the help of well organised gangs. Sharing borders with Austria and Germany, the Czech Republic has become an attractive stop-over country for refugees trying to make their way into the West.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Friday is expected to be cloudy with scattered showers and thunder storms. Temperatures have been forecast between 9 and 13 degrees Celsius.