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Czech press review – Monday 12 January 2009

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Topolánek: Čunek must go

PM Mirek Topolánek said Friday that KDU-ČSL head Jiří Čunek is doing a poor job running the Regional Development Ministry and should quit the cabinet. Čunek called Topolánek’s action political, saying the premier has not given him any direct critique on his job performance. In a STEM survey last week, 27% of respondents said Čunek’s presence in the cabinet is essential to the stability of the governing coalition., HN 2

KSČM spokesman quits over antisemitism charge

Community Party spokesman Josef Tomáš resigned Friday following press reports on his past conviction for antisemitism. Tomáš served a suspended sentence after being found guilty of racial defamation in 1994 for operating the ultra-right paper Týdeník Politika, which ran articles on the “Jewish conspiracy”. Tomáš denied being antisemitic but said the controversy was damaging the party.

LN 4 Sat, Právo 1, 3 Sat

Greens want rocker Kocáb in cabinet

The Green Party has decided to replace Džamila Stehlíková, the minister in charge of human rights and minority issues, with pop musician and former PM Michael Kocáb.

most Czech press

Topolánek, Bush discuss Gaza

PM Mirek Topolánek spoke by telephone to US President George W. Bush about the Gaza crisis Saturday during his meeting with Russian PM Vladimir Putin. Topolánek and Bush agreed on the necessity of reaching a peace agreement quickly and bringing humanitarian aid into the region while preventing the smuggling of weapons to Gaza., Právo

Czech troops leave for Afghanistan, mission uncertain

Thirty-one Czech soldiers left for Afghanistan Saturday night to be stationed at the Dutch base Camp Hadrian in Uruzgan province, with another 32 slated for deployment 16 January. The Czech troops are scheduled to serve there until the end of March but will only stay a month unless the cabinet and the opposition reach an agreement on foreign missions.


Dryml will not resign

The ČSSD leadership called for Senator Vladimír Dryml Friday to resign as deputy governor of the Hradec Králové region for allegedly gathering compromising information on party colleague Hana Orgoníková. Dryml refused to resign and said he had apologized to Orgoníková on Thursday.

most Czech press

KDU-ČSL moves up party conference

The KDU-ČSL national committee voted Friday that a party conference scheduled for September will be held instead in June. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said the current party leadership has not been able to present a unified viewpoint to the public.

most Czech press

Medical chamber proposes fee reduction

The Czech Medical Chamber on Friday recommended several changes to the current system of medical fees, including exempting children under 18 and reducing the co-payments for prescriptions from CZK 30 to CZK 20. Chamber President Milan Kubek opposes abolishing the fees but wants them to be acceptable to the public.

Právo 3 Sat

Klaus-mocking puzzle donated to Brussels

A 256-square-metre puzzle created by 27 artists under the supervision of Czech artist David Černý will be unveiled today at the Council of the EU’s headquarters in Brussels, Lidové noviny reported Saturday. Artists from all EU states provided pieces showing their country’s idiosyncrasies and cultural identities; Černý represents the Czech Republic with a blue piece imprinted with some of controversial statements by Klaus on global warning and other issues.

LN 1, 5 Sat

Radicals interrupt pro-Israel demonstration

A group of 30 masked radicals interrupted a rally in support of Israel in Prague’s Old Town Sunday, yelling “USA, Israel, go to hell!” The counter-demonstrators refused to say what organisation they represented.


Workers’ Party supporters rally in Kopřivnice

Some 80 supporters of the extremist Workers’ Party staged a demonstration in Kopřivnice Saturday to protest against layoffs at the local Tatra plant. Dozens of counter-demonstrators were also present. Police detained three people, including a man who was wanted by the authorities.


Russia: Gas agreement not valid

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said Sunday night that an agreement signed at the weekend by Czech Industry and Trade Minister Martin Říman and Russian Deputy PM Igor Szczecin on the monitoring of gas supplies to Europe is invalid. Medvedev claimed Ukraine changed the protocol in the pact, which emerged from Saturday’s meeting between PMs Mirek Topolánek and Vladimir Putin. The European Commission said Ukraine will re-sign the pact.

HN 1, 5, MfD A1, A2, A3

Jobless rate reaches 6%

Czech unemployment grew by 0.7% to 6% last month, according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Some 352,000 Czechs are currently registered at labour offices across the country as unemployed, and 138,500 people are receiving welfare payments.

most Czech press

Škoda reports record ’08 sales, plans China boost

Škoda Auto increased sales by more than 7% in 2008 to a record 674,500 automobiles. This year the largest Czech automaker plans to double production capacity in China from the current 50,000-60,000 cars a year. Škoda will resume production today at 10pm in three of its plants after a three-week shutdown. The company plans to announce a decision on layoffs in the second quarter.

ČTK, Právo 15

ČR Hyundai starts redundancies

The recently opened Hyundai plant in Nošovice has started laying off workers, Aktuálně.cz reports. Sacked employees are not entitled to severance pay because they were recent hires. An average of 60 workers a month are leaving the plant, about half voluntarily. Hyundai suppliers Hysco, Mobis, Plakor and Dymos reduced production Friday in response to the automaker’s announcement two days earlier that it was cutting output.

ČTK, HN 15

HN: Bidders have big plans for airport

Hospodářské noviny reported on the plans of potential buyers of Prague Airport, which is to be sold by the end of the year for an expected CZK 75 billion. Unspecified Asian entities would like to make Prague a hub for flights to Asia, airport chief Miroslav Dvořák said. European consortiums are interested mainly in land around the airport, on which they aim to build hotels, warehouses and logistic centres. Singapore’s Changi Airport and investment group Penta are among the bidders, HN reports.

HN 13, 14

Discounter Wizz Air coming to ČR

Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air announced it will enter the Czech market, launching flights from Prague to London, Rome, Milan and Brussels on 19 February. Wizz will also begin flying from the Czech capital to Paris and Eindhoven in July. Wizz CEO József Váradi said the company is aiming to become the leading low-cost carrier in the Czech Republic.


Crisis expected to slow inflation

Czech inflation could plunge as low as 1.5%, a six-year minimum, as a result of the economic crisis, analysts predict. Inflation, which averaged 6.3% for 2008, had already begun dropping at year-end, from 4.4% in November to 3.6% last month.

Právo 3 Sat, HN 13, 19

Foreigners coming to ČR for plastic surgeries

Six thousand foreigners, most of them from Germany, Austria, Great Britain and Slovakia, came to ČR last year to undergo cosmetic surgery. The most common procedures were liposuction, breast enlargement and nose surgeries, said Tomio Okamura of AČCKA, the association of Czech tour operators and travel agents. Women accounted for 87% of the foreign patients.

Právo 1, 3 Sat

Czechs to send gas to Slovakia

The Czech Republic has promised to deliver 4 million cubic metres of natural gas to Slovakia to help that country deal with the slowdown in supplies from Russia, PM Mirek Topolánek announced Friday. The gas will come from RWE Transgas’s storage facility in Slovakia. In exchange, the Czech Republic will keep gas from Germany that was originally headed to Slovakia but could not be delivered, according to Czech Trade Minister Martin Říman.

MfD A9 Sat, ČTK

State to increase its ČEZ stake

The state’s share in energy giant ČEZ will increase to almost 70% after the company cancels 10% of the shares it acquired in a buyout between July 2007 and April 2008. ČEZ spokesman Ladislav Kříž said the firm has nearly completed dealings with the last of its creditors, which delayed the cancellation.

HN 13

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