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NEWS

Natural gas still not coming; ČR to rely more on nuke energy

The dispute between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas continues and renewed supplies are not yet coming. PM Mirek Topolánek meets today in Strasbourg with MEPs for talks on energy security. Industry and Trade Minister Martin Říman said it is necessary for countries to interlink their gas networks to prevent a similar crisis in the future and that the ČR would expand its Dukovany nuclear power plant, E15 reports.

most Czech press

David Černý in hot water over ‘Entropa’ statue

The controversial sculpture “Entropa”, unveiled to mark the start of the Czech EU presidency, was not created by artists from 27 EU countries as Czech artist David Černý had earlier claimed, but was made by Černý alone. On Tuesday, Černý apologized to PM Mirek Topolánek and other officials for providing them with false information.

most Czech press

Václav Havel undergoes minor surgery

Former president Václav Havel underwent a minor operation at Prague’s Motol hospital on Monday and is in a stable condition, hospital spokeswoman Eva Jurinová said Tuesday.

most Czech press

Filipiová to replace Julínek as health minister

ODS Senator Daniela Filipiová has accepted an offer to replace party colleague Tomáš Julínek as health minister. Filipiová said she wants to continue with Julínek’s reforms. In another move, former Central Bohemia governor Petr Bendl (ODS) is expected to replace Aleš Řebíček as transport minister.

most Czech press

Paroubek: Govt should seek confidence vote

PM Mirek Topolánek should ask parliament for a vote of confidence in his newly reshuffled cabinet, opposition Social Democrat (ČSSD) chairman Jiří Paroubek said Tuesday. He said it would be premature to speculate whether ČSSD would call for such a vote if Topolánek did not.

Právo 2

Report: Čunek working to abolish ministry

Outgoing Minister for Regional Development Jiří Čunek told HN yesterday that he has been working on abolishing the ministry since taking office. The plan to dismantle the ministry was allegedly prepared by the ministry’s employees, HN said. Čunek’s deputy, Miroslav Kalous, denied the report but said there were plans in the past to merge the ministry with the Ministry of Agriculture.

HN 2

Govt to discuss foreign missions on Monday

Government ministers on Monday will take up the delayed question of the status of Czech military missions abroad. The Defence Ministry said the discussion would take into account reservations raised by the opposition ČSSD. KDU-ČSL MP Ludvík Hovorka said he would vote with the cabinet in February as he would not want to be responsible for the lives of soldiers in Afghanistan. This should ensure that the cabinet’s proposal receives enough votes to support the missions.

Právo 1, 3, ČTK

Number of asylum seekers falling

The number of foreigners seeking asylum in the Czech Republic fell to 1,656 last year, down from 1,878 a year earlier and the lowest since 1995, according to the Interior Ministry.

ČTK

ČR wants better international child protection

The Czech Republic would like to use its EU presidency to strengthen international efforts to protect children, including creating a website to help find lost children and fighting child pornography on the internet, according to police president Oldřich Martinů. He was speaking after a meeting on Tuesday involving European police corps, the European Commission and Europol.

ČTK

Critics: Lisbon Treaty to give more powers to bureaucrats

Lisbon Treaty critics who met in the Senate Tuesday said the treaty would reinforce the powers of European bureaucrats who are not subject to democratic oversight. They said the only solution would be to reject the current draft and write a new one.

ČTK

BUSINESS

Čunek: ČSA sale to Russian company risky

Deputy PM Jiří Čunek (KDU-ČSL) and party supporters warned yesterday of the security risks of selling state-owned Czech Airlines to Russia’s Aeroflot, considering the current dispute over natural gas. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek and other ODS ministers said they didn’t share Čunek’s fears.

HN 1, 16

Kalousek now says aid possible for ailing glassmaker

Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said Tuesday that he would not rule out providing state aid for troubled glassmaker Bohemia Crystalex Trading (BCT) on condition the company came up with a realistic restructuring plan. Kalousek recently rejected providing any form of financial assistance for BCT.

most Czech press

Škoda Auto postpones Yeti launch

Škoda Auto has postponed the launch its new off-road Yeti model from the second quarter until at least September, when the car will be presented at the Frankfurt car show. Meantime, the company said while it has cut back on production of some models, it still produces its higher-priced Superb model five days a week in three shifts.

HN 15, 17, E15 10, ČTK

Škoda Auto’s 2008 sales reach record

Škoda Auto saw global unit sales last year rise 7.1% from the previous year to a record 674,530 cars, thanks mainly to growth on the Chinese and eastern European markets.

ČTK

AVG announces takeover of data-protection company

Czech antivirus company AVG Technologies has acquired a California-based company, Sana Security, which makes software to guard against personal data theft. AVG CEO J.R. Smith said the company will use the software to provide customers with continuous online identity protection in real time.

HN 16

AHM: Mortgage volume fell 15% to 20% in 2008

The volume of mortgages provided by Czech banks in 2008 fell to between CZK 117 billion and CZK 120 billion, a year-on-year drop of about 15% to 20%, according to estimates of the Czech association of mortgage brokers (AHM). Official data will be published by the Ministry for Regional Development at the end of the month.

MfD B2

Analysts: Natural gas prices should drop

Natural gas prices for Czech households are expected to fall in the second quarter of 2009, analysts said in a ČTK poll. The extent of the decline would depend mainly on the strength of the Czech crown, which has been weakening recently, experts said.

ČTK

Czech banks to install smart ATMs

Česká spořitelna is planning to install 10 more smart ATMs during the first half of 2009. The smart ATMs, made by NCR, allow customers to make deposits, top up phones and transfer payments for immediate deposit into a recipient’s account. ČSOB and GE Money have similar plans, Hospodářské noviny wrote.

HN 15, 18

UniCredit Bank to sell its Prague city centre properties

Jiří Kunert, UniCredit Bank CEO, said his bank is considering selling its three buildings in Prague’s city centre at Revoluční, Na Příkopě and náměstí Republiky. According to the daily E15, the buildings could fetch as much as CZK 1 billion. The bank wants to consolidate staff in one building.

E15 1, 8

Bolivian president orders purchase of L-159 planes

Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma has signed a decree ordering the purchase of six Czech-made L-159 fighter planes for USD 57.876 million (some CZK 1.16 billion).

Euro.cz

Toy chain Hamleys to enter Czech market

The UK toy chain Hamleys is planning to open retail outlets in the Czech Republic, but the London headquarters declined to name a date when it will enter the Czech market.

E15 8