News Defence Ministry and Vodochody sign contract on brokered sale of L-159s
The Defence Ministry and Czech aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody have signed a contract on a brokered deal to sell the military’s unwanted L-159 fighter jets to the American firm Draken International. The deal will officially be announced later this week. The US company is buying 14 fighter jets at the cost of 220 to 250 million Czech crowns, with the option to purchase an additional 14. The Czech Republic, however, is also keeping the doors open for a possible sale of additional L-159s to Iraq. According to Defence Minister Martin Stropnický, the Iraqis are interested in up to 15 planes.
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Five Czechs who were kidnapped in Lebanon in July this year are still alive, Právo reported on Wednesday. Czech security agencies have received evidence of the five’s well-being from an intermediary, the daily said, adding that they are evidently still in Lebanon. A source told Právo that the kidnapping was linked to the detention of Lebanese man Ali Fayad, one of three people arrested in Prague on charges of planning to sell weapons and drugs to US agents posing as members of Colombia’s FARC. A Prague court recently ruled that they could be extradited to the US.
The Czech government is considering sending machine guns to help Kurds in Iraq fighting Islamic State. Speaking at a meeting of the State Security Council on Tuesday evening, the minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, said it was very probable that the weapons would be sent. Minister Stropnický said Prague would discuss the matter with the United States as its forces would make any such delivery. The Czech government has in the past approved the donation of ammunition and hand grenades to the Kurds.
The Czech Republic will send a diplomatic note to Norway on Wednesday in protest at a decision by Norwegian authorities that the six-year-old son of Czech woman Eva Michaláková can be adopted by his current foster parents. She has also been barred from having any contact with her second son, who is 10. Speaking on Tuesday night, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the country’s social affairs minister would seek an explanation from the Norwegian authorities on the ruling, which Prague says reneged on a previous agreement. The government has also encouraged Mrs. Michaláková to explore all avenues of appeal in Norway and if that fails to take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights.
The president’s chancellor Vratislav Mynář will file an appeal at the National Security Authority on Wednesday against its rejection of his application for top level security clearance, President Miloš Zeman told the Czech News Agency. The head of state indicated that Mr. Mynář was minded to try all avenues of appeal, including at the Supreme Administrative Court. He said that the BIS secret police had previously given the head of his office the security all-clear. Mr. Zeman has in the past said that Mr. Mynář cannot remain in the post if he fails to pass the National Security Authority vetting process.
Czech ambassador to Norway should be recalled for consultations over Michalák brothers decision, says Zeman
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, says the Czech ambassador to Norway should be recalled to Prague for consultations, after a decision under which Czech woman Eva Michaláková will no longer be able to see her two boys taken into care four years ago. Earlier the president had said that expelling the Norwegian ambassador to Prague over the matter – as suggested by Christian Democrat MEP Tomáš Zdechovský – was not a bad idea. The head of state also backed Mrs. Michaláková’s planned appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said the decision of the Norwegian authorities had been reckless.
New laser detectors are to be installed at dangerous railway crossings in the Czech Republic, the minister of transport, Dan Ťok, said on Tuesday. The lasers will monitor the crossings, with information about potential obstructions being instantly relayed to train drivers, the minister told journalists. In another move to improve safety, barriers at level crossings will only be in place at the entrance to such crossings in future, meaning there will be nothing preventing drivers exiting the space. Three people died recently when a high speed train collided with a truck at a railway crossing in North Moravia.
Zaorálek protests to Norway's ambassador after ruling under which Czech woman may not see children again
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, summoned Norway’s ambassador to Prague, Siri Ellen Sletner, for a meeting on Tuesday to protest at what he called an egregious breach of a previous agreement after the Norwegian authorities ruled that the six-year-old son of Czech woman Eva Michaláková can be adopted by his current foster parents. Mrs. Michaláková has also been barred from having any contact with her second son, who is 10. Norwegian social services took the two children into care in 2011 over suspicions of sexual abuse and neglect. The Czech side had been told that adoption would not take place if a biological parent expressed interest in a child, Mr. Zaorálek said. Mrs. Michaláková is planning to appeal the decisions at the European Court of Human Rights, though a previous petition to hear the case was rejected by the court.
The Czech ice hockey star Jaromír Jágr says he is bringing back the mullet hairstyle that he was famous for in the 1990s. Jágr, who is 43, told a reporter from the Miami Herald that he was reviving the long-at-the-back style after lobbying from Florida Panthers teammate Roberto Luongo. He had tweeted prior to a pre-season training camp that he was going to make it his mission to get the Czech to go back to the look with which he is most closely associated. “Guys we did it!!!!!,” Luongo wrote on Monday.
The Czech Republic will send more than the 25 soldiers approved by the government on Monday to Hungary to help guard the country’s borders, the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka says. He made the comment after a visit to the General Staff of the Czech Army on Tuesday. The concrete number to be sent in the second such deployment in December will be discussed at a meeting of Visegrad Four interior ministers later this week, Mr. Sobotka said. On Monday the Czech interior minister, Milan Chovanec, said that over 100 soldiers and police officers could be deployed to Hungary, which has this year seen an unprecedented number of illegal migrants.
A retrospective exhibition of work by the Czech designer and architect Bořek Šípek has got underway at the Art Salon gallery in Prague’s Dancing House. The show includes almost 200 items created by the artist over the last two decades, including a vase he designed for Václav Havel. Mr. Šípek worked closely with the late president in his time at Prague Castle and the exhibition’s opening coincided with what would have been his 79th birthday on Monday.