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Breakfast Brief – 2 November 2009

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NEWS
Petitioners call on Klaus not to sign Lisbon
The organisers of a Europe-wide campaign against the Lisbon Treaty delivered a petition to Prague Castle on Friday calling on President Václav Klaus not to sign the treaty, and thus, prevent it from taking effect. Klaus’s spokesman Radim Ochvat said on Friday that the president welcomed the opt-out granted to the Czech Republic from the treaty’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, and he would not impose any more conditions for ratification.
Source: ČTK, LN 2 Sat

Fischer: Cabinet did not fail on Lisbon
Prime Minister Jan Fischer has rejected ČSSD Chair Jiří Paroubek’s statement that the cabinet failed in negotiating an exemption from the Lisbon Treaty’s Charter of Fundamental Rights for the Czech Republic. Fischer said Czech citizens’ rights would not be threatened by the exemption, as Paroubek alleged.
Source: most Saturday press

LN: PM already decided on EU commissioner candidate
Lidové noviny reported on Saturday that Prime Minister Jan Fischer has already picked his candidate for the post of EU Commissioner. According to the paper, the PM is in talks with Vladimír Dlouhý, a once popular industry and trade minister in the 90s who now heads Goldman Sachs for central Europe. Talking to Czech Television on Sunday Deputy PM Martin Barták dismissed Dlouhý’s candidacy as media speculation.
Source: most Czech press

Obama: ČR an ‘important partner’
In a statement from the White House published on Friday, US President Barack Obama congratulated the Czech Republic on the 28 October national holiday, praising the country as a close ally and an important partner.
Source: ČTK

Senators mull another Lisbon-related complaint
Lisbon Treaty opponents in the Czech upper house are considering another complaint to the Constitutional Court that disputes not the treaty itself, but the court’s handling of the matter, Senator Jiří Oberfalzer said on Friday. Tomáš Langášek of the Constitutional Court said such a complaint would not affect current proceedings on the treaty or freeze the ratification process.
Source: ČTK

Poll: PM Fischer, the most trusted Czech politician
Prime Minister Jan Fischer is the most trustworthy Czech politician according to 79% of respondents in an October poll conducted nationally by STEM. Fischer beat Václav Klaus’s result in 2005, when the president claimed a 78% ranking. This year Klaus was rated the country’s second most trustworthy politician, backed by 61% of respondents.
Source: LN 5 Sat, Právo 1 Sat

HN: Uni gave politicians special treatment
Hospodářské noviny claims that several politicians including Martin Langmajer (ODS) received degrees at the University of Finance and Administration under shady conditions. Langmajer completed the third year of his studies at the university within half the normal time. Other former students suspected of receiving degrees unusually fast include Deputy Prague Mayor Pavel Klega, Prague 10 Councillor Tomáš Hrdlička and ODS Deputy Chair and Prague 13 Mayor David Vodrážka.
Source: HN 1-4

New law to protect debtors
A new debt collection law intended to speed up the settlement process that came into effect yesterday allows debtors who have paid all due sums within 15 days and covered collection expenses to regain possession of any confiscated property within seven days. Under the changes, debtors can also settle their dues by selling off property provided both creditors and debt collectors approve. Debt collector Jan Grosam said the new law would increase collection agencies expenses by 30% since they would need to take on some responsibilities that formerly belonged to courts.
Source: most Czech press

ČT: MP’s dissertation fell 50 pages short
Czech Television (ČT) reports that MP Marek Benda, who is also chair of the Chamber of Deputies’ Constitutional and Legal Committe, received two law degrees from the University of West Bohemia based on a dissertation that fell 50 pages short of institution requirements.
Source: most Czech press

Poll: Most Czechs back legal medical marijuana
A SANEP poll online has revealed that 53% of Czechs support the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes. A further 44% approve the legalisation of the drug for other purposes.
Source: ČTK

Campaign rejects Nazi-endorsed brands
A joint campaign called “Do you know what you’re wearing?” launched by the government and the Czech Helsinki Committee warns against wearing certain fashion brands now popular among ultra-right supporters. The campaign, to run all over the Czech Republic, claims many people unwittingly support these extremist groups by wearing brands like Eighty Eight, Bohemia and Thor Steinar.
Source: LN 1, 5 Sat

BUSINESS
Unimex: ČSA and Letište Praha venture could be unlawful
The head of Unimex Group Jiri Šimáně told Hospodářské noviny that the planned consolidation of Czech Airlines and Letiště Praha might lead to the unlawful use of classified information. Šimáně noted that ČSA would receive some profits from Letiště Praha’s business with Unimex, and this might lead to the abuse of secret information about Unimex’s clients.
Source: HN 17-19

Deadline over for Temelín tender bids
Czech power giant ČEZ has stopped accepting offers in the tender worth roughly CZK 500 billion to extend its nuclear power station Temelín on Friday. ČEZ declined to disclose the names of current bidders, saying this would jeopardise the public tender. Bids have already been confirmed, however, by Russian Atomstroyexport, in a consortium with Czech firm Škoda JS and Russian Gidropress, as well as French firm Areva and US Westinghouse.
Source: most Czech press

Aero wants to sell L-159 planes to Iraq
The biggest Czech aircraft maker Aero Vodochody is close to selling more than 20 L-159 fighter planes to the Iraqi army, Aero head Ladislav Šimek told Hospodářské noviny. He did not specify the exact value of the transaction ,but confirmed it would exceed USD 100 million. Iraq is also interested in buying Czech Zetor tractors and arms, HN reported.
Source: iHNed.cz, Euro.cz, HN 20

Self-employed boycott new electronic inboxes
Dozens of thousands of entrepreneurs are refusing to set up electronic inboxes for official correspondence, as required under new regulations. Before the launch of the system today to replace print communication, 110,000 out of 340,000 firms had activated their accounts, according to Interior Ministry figures. The move to electronic mail should save the state CZK 200 million a year.
Source: most Czech press

Czech Post to stay in state hands
Czech Post will not be transformed from a state-run enterprise to a joint-stock company any time in the near future now that Interior Minister Martin Pecina has intervened with the Finance Ministry to stop the process, Interior Ministry spokeswoman Jana Malíková said on Friday. After several delays, Czech Post was set to become a joint-stock company on 1 November.
Source: ČTK, Právo Sat 7

Industrial output down 11.9% this year
Industrial production in the Czech Republic decreased by 11.9% on the year in September after a decline of 8.4% the previous month, the Czech Statistical Office said on Friday.
Source: ČTK

ČT: Czech Railways has higher international fares than competitors
Czech Railways (ČD) often sells tickets for international routes at far more expensive rates than the fares available in neighbouring countries for the same trains, Czech Television reported on Saturday. According to ČD, the differences, running up to thousands of crowns, come from the discounts offered by foreign train operators, which Czech Railways does not provide to customers.
Source: ČTK

Ministry: New deadline for giant eco tender
After postponing the date several times, the Finance Ministry has set a new deadline of 10 June, 2010 for bids in a CZK 100 billion public tender to remove old environmental damage, ministry spokesman Ondřej Jakob said on Friday.
Source: e15.cz, iHNed.cz, MfD A9 Sat

Hauliers, public push for bypass completion
The Czech hauliers association Česmad Bohemia last week held a meeting with citizens in city centres worst hit by lorry traffic, which resulted in a petition calling for the completion of bypasses that have been postponed for a long time. Česmad said that nearly 800 people signed the document.
Source: ČTK

Passengers down by 10% at Prague Airport
Passenger numbers at Prague Airport dropped by 10% year-on-year to less than nine million in the first three quarters of this year, the airport announced on its website on Friday. The summer season staved off the annual decline that reached nearly 14% in the first half of the year.
Source: ČTK

Minister backs higher toll for lorries on Fridays
Transport Minister Gustáv Slamečka has proposed increasing the motorway toll on lorries by 50% on Friday afternoons, turning around initial plans for a full-year ban on the vehicles every Friday.
Source: ČTK

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