Czech president appoints Vlastimil Picek defence minister.

By bne IntelliNews March 20, 2013
Czech President Milos Zeman appointed on March 19 Vlastimil Picek as defence minister, a statement on the governments website read. The post of the defence minister has been vacant for nearly three months since Necas fired Karolina Peake in December 2012 after just a week on the job. Peake, also deputy prime minister and head of the smallest ruling party LIDEM, was sacked as she dismissed a number of top officials at the ministry against Necas will. Picek, 56, former chief-of-staff and up until now first deputy defence minister, said that one of his tasks will be to continue talks with Sweden over extending the lease of Gripen fighter jets. The Czech Republic signed in 2004 a CZK 19.6bn (EUR 765mn) contract to lease 14 Gripens jets. The contract expires in 2014 and the government has been in talks with the Swedish maker of the jets, Saab AB, for more than a year now but conditions offered by the company does not seem to please the Czechs.

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