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Czech press review – Friday 2 January 2009

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Table of Contents

NEWS

ČR planning mission to help resolve Gaza conflict

Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek confirmed Thursday that in its role as the new EU president the Czech Republic is planning a diplomatic mission to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Topolánek said it will not be possible to count on US participation in the mission.

most Czech press

Topolánek to announce cabinet reshuffle Monday

PM Mirek Topolánek will announce major changes in his cabinet on Monday. Speaking Thursday on Czech Television, Topolánek said the cabinet shuffle will affect all three coalition parties but he did not specify how many cabinet members will be replaced. He said he has given up establishing the post of deputy PM for economics and will instead set up and chair a national economic council to deal with financial crisis’s impact on the country. Topolánek told Hospodářské noviny the government might fall if another no-confidence vote is held, the first time he has acknowledged such a possibility.

most Czech press

Central Bohemian hospitals cease fee collection

Five regional hospitals in Central Bohemian region have stopped collecting medical fee payments yesterday. The fees will now be covered by the ČSSD-led regional government’s budget. Patients may still pay their own fees but will need to sign a deed of gift between themselves and the region.

most Czech press

Havel: Radar should trump Lisbon

The approval of the treaties on the stationing of a US radar base on Czech soil is more important for the country than ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, former President Václav Havel told Czech Television Thursday. Havel said the government should resign if it fails to approve the radar treaties.

LN 4, MfD A2

Prague parking to be payable by SMS

Starting April it will be possible to pay for parking in Prague’s restricted parking zones using a mobile phone text message. In the same month some zones currently reserved for local residents will become available to other drivers as well.

LN 6, MfD B1

53 km of high speed roads to open this year

The Road and Motorway Directorate plans to open more than 53 kilometres of motorways and high speed roads this year, the second biggest expansion since 2000. The D1 motorway will have three new sections, a 6.5-km stretch from Vyškov to Zlín and two sections between Olomouc and Ostrava.

HN 3

Paroubek: Dryml should quit regional post

ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek told Czech TV yesterday that if he were in the shoes of ČSSD Senator Vladimír Dryml, who is accused of collecting compromising material on party colleague Hana Orgoníková, he would step down as deputy regional governor of the Hradec Králové region. However, Paroubek added that he does not know much about the case. He said Dryml’s behaviour was a personal failure and did not reflect on the party.

most Czech press

Ranking Russian MP denigrates Czech EU presidency

The Czech Republic’s EU presidency will not be good for older member states or EU partners including Russia, Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told Russian state TV. Kosachev, member of PM Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, said the Czech Republic does not have sufficient power to hold such an important position.

LN 4

Barroso praises ČR for presidency preparations

European Commission President Jose Barroso has praised the Czech government’s preparations for the EU presidency and Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek’s determination to ratify the Lisbon treaty. “The preparation was perfect,” Barroso told Czech Television Thursday.

ČTK, Právo 1

Klaus urges Czechs to vote in EU elections

In his New Year’s presidential address, Václav Klaus called on Czechs to vote in the EU parliamentary elections in June. He said the results could contribute to finding a rational model for organising the EU.

most Czech press

Pospíšil to propose popular presidential vote

Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil will propose on Monday a constitutional amendment to introduce a direct presidential election in the Czech Republic. The proposal offers possible one, two or three stage balloting and would take effect in mid-2010 if approved.

ČTK

BUSINESS

PM: Euro target date to be set in autumn

The cabinet will set a date for euro adoption on 1 November, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said Thursday on Czech TV’s Václav Moravec’s Questions. Next Finance analyst Markéta Šichtářová predicted that the cabinet will not meet this deadline because of its weak mandate and the approaching end of its term. Atlantik FT’s Petr Sklenář said 2013 or 2014 are realistic dates for euro adoption.

ČTK, HN 15, LN 13

ČR, EU not affected by Ukraine gas shutdown

Czech and EU fuel supplies have not been effected by Russian gas giant Gazprom’s cut-off of supplies to Ukraine yesterday. Ukraine’s Naftogaz had warned that the country might confiscate gas transferred to Europe via Ukraine. Gazprom halted Ukraine supplies due to the parties’ failure to agree on renewing a contract that expired yesterday. PM Mirek Topolánek said the EU will intervene in the conflict if its fuel supplies are affected.

most Czech press

Analysts: Slower growth, more jobless in ’09

Most analysts questioned by Lidové noviny expect the Czech economic and financial situation to get worse in 2009. They predicted economic growth of around 1.5% and a rise in the unemployment rate to 7%. ČSOB analyst Petr Dufek said the situation will get better again in 2010.

LN 14

Kalousek: 2008 deficit lower than expected

The Czech Republic’s budget gap in 2008 was around CZK 20 billion, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek told Hospodářské noviny. The shortfall is the lowest in 11 years. The ministry initially anticipated a CZK 70.8 billion budget gap and even raised the estimate to CZK 71.3 billion over the summer.

HN 3, Právo 15, ČTK

Household debt way up in 2008

Czech households owed CZK 865.32 billion to banks and financial institutions at the end of November, a monthly increase of CZK 11.79 billion and a CZK 167 billion year-on-year rise, the Czech National Bank reported.

ČTK, HN 17, Právo 4

E-toll revenues up in 2008

The Czech Republic’s e-toll system collected CZK 6.14 billion from drivers last year, CZK 578 million more than in 2007 when the system was launched.

ČTK

Bakala wants to buy Polish dailies

Czech financier Zdeněk Bakala’s Respekt Media, which operates publishing house Economia, is bidding to buy Polish dailies Rzeczpospolita and Parkiet.

HN 15

ÚOHS plans bigger fines

Anti-monopoly office (ÚOHS) head Martin Pecina told Hospodářské noviny that the agency is taking steps to impose tougher fines, simplify merger proceedings and more effectively defend its decisions in court. Pecina said he will continue to hold informal meetings with parties involved in ÚOHS cases, a reference to his meeting last year with businessman Andrej Babiš at a petrol station.

HN 16

Czech fuel prices below European average

Petrol and diesel cost CZK 2 and CZK 0.2 per litre below the European average at the end of 2008, respectively. The average Czech price for a litre of petrol was CZK 24.12, while diesel sold for CZK 26.50 on average, the German website clever-tanken.de reported.

ČTK

Dukovany plant raises output

The Dukovany nuclear power plant generated a record 14,434 billion kWh last year, 4% more than in 2007 and 3% more than in 2006. Technological upgrades and shorter shutdown periods are the main reasons for the increase, a plant spokesman said.

ČTK

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