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27-08-2014 17:15 | Ian Willoughby

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Government approves munitions supply to Kurds

The Czech government has approved the supply of munitions to the Kurdish regional government in Iraq battling against Islamic State radicals. The Czech News Agency reported on Wednesday that it had seen documents suggesting that the Kurds would receive millions of rounds of ammunition for Kalashnikov assault rifles and machine guns, as well as hand grenades and ammunition for anti-tank rocket launchers. The US Army is to deliver the supplies, worth CZK 41 million and weighing over 500 tonnes, to Iraq by the end of this year.

Czechs set to sell combat planes to Iraq

The Czech Ministry of Defence has reached agreement with manufacturer Aero Vodochody to sell L-159 combat planes to Iraq. A ministry representative confirmed a report to that effect carried by the newspaper E15 and said more information would be revealed at a news conference on Thursday. Previous reports suggested that the Iraqis were interested in taking 15 planes, 11 of which are in reserve and four of which are being used by the Czech Army. The Czech Republic will have to get agreement from the USA, Italy and the UK for the sale as some of the aircraft’s technology comes from those states.

MPs return civil service bill to second reading

The Chamber of Deputies has returned a government civil service bill to a second reading after the coalition agreed to adopt changes demanded by the opposition; this includes dropping a proposal for a chief civil servant whose office would control the entire system. The legislation is aimed at depoliticising the civil service and enabling the increased usage of available European Union funds. MPs are expected to debate the bill again on September 10. The prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said even if President Miloš Zeman vetoes the bill it should come into force from the start of next year.

Incentives offered for direct Czech Republic-China air route

State company Český Aeroholding plans to use almost CZK 38 million in incentives to support a proposed direct air route between the Czech Republic and China, a Czech Ministry of Transport spokesperson said after a meeting of Czech and Chinese officials on Wednesday. A condition for any airline that expresses interest in the route is a commitment to four flights a week for a period of at least five years. The City of Prague and Czech Tourism also plan incentives for a route that would increase the number of Chinese visitors.

Czech Foreign Ministry seeking to improve visa services in over a dozen states

The Czech Foreign Ministry is planning to improve visa services through outsourcing in over a dozen states where the process is hampered by limited consulate staff. The ministry is now selecting local firms who would pre-process applications and increase the number of visa-application points. The new service should see the opening of 25 visa centres in countries such as China, India, Turkey and South Africa.

EC adopts partnership agreement with the Czech Republic

The European Commission has adopted a partnership agreement for European structural and investment funds submitted by the Czech government. The document, which took three years to negotiate, determines the country’ s investment strategy for the next six year period. It paves the way for the drawing of over 22 billion euros which are to be used to create new jobs, boost competitiveness, fight social exclusion and support environmental protection projects.

Unqualified teachers to be allowed to remain in schools under amendment

Some unqualified teachers will be allowed to remain in the Czech school system after the Senate on Wednesday approved an amendment making an exception for experienced teachers, specialists who have worked in a particular field and native speakers. Other teachers lacking the requisite certificate will be allowed to work at schools unable to find qualified staff. The legislation now requires the signature of the president. Education Minister Marcel Chládek said around 18,000 teachers had not fulfilled a requirement to acquire a qualification in a 10-year grace period and that without the amendment there would be a shortage of teachers.

Police name suspect in Prague acid attack

Police have revealed information about a man they suspect of carrying out an acid attack on a woman in Prague on Tuesday. A search has been launched for Milan Balamuta who is suspected of pouring acid from a plastic bottle on the woman, who is 50 and his former girlfriend, in the lobby of her apartment building in the city’s Michle district before making off with her bag and mobile phone. Police said the suspect also went by different names and had a history of burglary.

Short-list for 2014 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize revealed

A short-list of three nominees for the 2014 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize has been revealed in Prague. The award will go to either the B'Tselem Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in Israel, the Jesuit Refugee Service in Malta or Anar Mammadli, a human rights activist from Azerbaijan whose work focuses on election monitoring. The winner of the second edition of the award will be revealed on September 29. It is presented by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Charter 77 Foundation and the Václav Havel Library.

Sparta boss could face sack if club fail to reach Europa League

The manager of Sparta Prague, Vítězslav Lavička, could lose his job if the Czech football league champions fail to reach the Europa League group stage, the Czech News Agency reported. Sparta drew 1:1 with Zwolle in the first leg of a playoff tie last week and will welcome the Dutch side at their Letná stadium on Thursday for the second. Sparta have been performing poorly since being knocked out in qualification for the more prestigious Champions League and have lost their last two matches in the domestic league.

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