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Breakfast Brief – 26 October 2009

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Table of Contents

Klaus adds to Lisbon Treaty complaint
The Constitutional Court received an additional statement from President Václav Klaus on Friday regarding the complaint by a group of senators against the Lisbon Treaty. Klaus’s legal representative Aleš Pejchal writes in the document that under Lisbon some countries can have legislation imposed on them during approval of EU laws. Hearings will begin on Tuesday; however, the Constitutional Court has announced that it probably will not give its final verdict then and the trial will likely be adjourned until the end of the week.
Source: ČTK, HN 4

Klaus might accommodate Swedish Lisbon Treaty proposal
Václav Klaus received a proposal from Swedish representatives about his Lisbon Treaty opt-out and is willing to work with it, presidential spokesman Radim Ochvat said on Friday. Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, ODS chairman Mirek Topolánek and ČSSD chairman Jiří Paroubek welcomed the move.
Source: most Saturday press

Fischer and Biden shake hands on anti-missile system
Prime Minister Jan Fischer and US Vice-President Joe Biden agreed on Friday that the Czech Republic is ready to participate in the new missile defence system planned to be used by NATO. Biden said that a team of security experts will come to Prague at the beginning of November to discuss the system. Fischer and Biden also talked about selling Czech L-159 military aircraft to Afghanistan and the Czech Republic buying the US-made Hercules transport planes, Fischer told Česká televize after Biden’s departure on Friday.
Source: most Czech press

Havel: US foreign policy is not naive
After meeting with US Vice-President Joe Biden, former president Václav Havel told ČTK that the Obama administration is aware of the global threats and the sensitivity of central Europe. Havel and Biden also discussed the missile defence system and US President Barack Obama’s recent refusal to meet with the Dalai Lama, which Havel had criticised at the Forum 2000 conference in October.
Source: ČTK

Poll: One-fourth of Czechs welcome Zeman’s return
According to a survey by SANEP, one in four Czechs welcomes the return of former Prime Minister and former ČSSD chairman Miloš Zeman to politics. Observers say that Zeman might drain some Social Democrat voters, putting the ČSSD behind the ODS.
Source: ČTK

ČSSD wants new VZP board members
Thirteen ČSSD regional governors have asked PM Jan Fischer to replace half of 10 members of the VZP health insurer’s board of trustees in a new election. The five members of the board who are appointed by the cabinet were named during Mirek Topolánek’s government. The group of 10 has a major say in distributing the insurer’s annual CZK 140 billion budget.
Source: HN 4

Gandalovič may challenge Topolánek as ODS leader
Deputy Civic Democrat chair Petr Gandalovič said that he may run for the position of party head at the party conference in November if the ODS elects leadership then and current chief Mirek Topolánek seeks a stronger mandate.
Source: most Saturday press

Police charge 18 extreme rightists
Following a crackdown on radicalism on Wednesday, police charged 18 of 24 detained rightists with supporting and promoting a movement to repress human rights and freedom, organised crime squad head Robert Šlachta said on Friday. The Workers’ Youth (DM), a Workers’ Party affiliate, will submit a complaint against the squad for confiscating the association’s membership index cards and promotional materials, DM chairman Martin Zbela said after the group met on Saturday.
Source: most Saturday press

Women rally against racism in Prague
About 100 women and a few men including Roma rights activists and representatives of civic associations that help ethnic minorities protested at náměstí Míru on Saturday against growing racism. Signatures will continue to be collected on an online petition, which will be presented to politicians in January.
Source: ČTK

Education Ministry steps up fight against extremism
In reaction to the growing radicalism in the country, the Education Ministry has provided teachers with recommendations on techniques and information sources that would allow students a better understanding of what the consequences of communism and nazism were and help them form arguments against the existing extremist movements.
Source: MfD A1, A3 Sat

ČT: Hundreds of prison cells shut down
Police officers set several prisoners free when they were forced to close hundreds of prison cells for temporary detainees at regional branches as they failed to meet international standards, Czech Television reported on Saturday. Although a number of officers criticised the move, reasoning that those imprisoned could pose a threat, Police President Oldřich Martinů said that there was no other choice in order to ensure minimal standards for detainees.
Source: LN 4

More suspicious degrees
TV Prima and portal reported that, according to Dean Jakub Končelík, the Charles University’s Social Sciences Faculty has allegedly awarded doctorate degrees to several pedagogues after very short study times. Interior Minister Martin Pecina told Euro weekly that he was offered special conditions for studying at the Plzeň Law Faculty six years ago when he worked as a deputy industry and trade minister. HN reports that the private Prague University of Finance and Administration, where influential politicians have studied, is paying 10 times less for renting its property from the Prague 5 district than is usual in that part of the city.
Source: most Czech press

2010 budget draft passes first reading
The lower house passed the state budget for 2010 with a deficit of CZK 162.7 billion, 5.3% of GDP, in the first reading on Friday.
Source: most Czech press

Deadline for bids in environmental tender postponed
Finance Minister Eduard Janota said on Friday that the deadlines for bids in the state tender to remove ecological damages worth over CZK 100 billion will be postponed until 2010 due to the early October antimonopoly office ruling to allow PPF to re-enter the competition. The Finance Ministry, which had disqualified PPF, doesn’t plan to appeal the ruling.
Source: ČTK

Topolánek: Westinghouse to participate in Temelín tender
After meeting with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Friday, ODS chairman Mirek Topolánek said that Westinghouse will likely bid in the tender to complete the Temelín nuclear power plant. According to a survey by SANEP, more than four-fifths of Czechs support the completion of the Temelín and Dukovany nuclear power plants.
Source: ČTK, LN 14 Sat, HN 4

HN: Shell to sell its 16% share in Česká rafinérská
The oil group Unipetrol and the state-run Mero, which operates the Czech part of the Druzhba and Ingolstadt pipelines, will bid for the 16% share that the Shell company has in Česká rafinérská, HN reports. The value of Shell’s share is estimated at CZK 4 billion. The sale has not been officially confirmed by Shell.
Source: HN 1, 17

ČSA chairman Radomír Lašák quits
Radomír Lašák, the chairman of the Czech Airlines supervisory board, announced on Friday that he and six members of the management were leaving in response to Miroslav Dvořák, the head of ČSA’s board of directors, signing an agreement to cut the wages of pilots by 30%, flight attendants by 15% and other employees by 10%. Roman Vik, the founder of Travel Service, said on Czech Television yesterday that the consortium of Unimex Group and Travel Service, the only participant in the ČSA tender, might file an arbitration claim against the ČR if the government does not agree with the sale and merges the company with Ruzyně Airport. HN reports that it is probable that the cabinet will decide against the sale of ČSA today.
Source: most Czech press

Tatra will lend a hand to daughter companies
The Czech lorry maker presented a two-year restructuring plan to help affiliates withstand the financial crisis, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. The plan includes the closing down of outdated manufacturing centres and purchasing some parts from other companies. Tatra reported a loss of CZK 572 million last year, after previously having tightened production and let go 550 employees.
Source: ČTK

PPF swallows up Euronews publishing
The financial group PPF will buy Euronews, which publishes the weekly Euro. The company plans to invest in Euro’s print and online editions and bring in new management for Euronews.
Source: ČTK

Fortuna shares could be traded on Prague and Warsaw bourses
Shares of the betting company Fortuna should be traded on the Prague stock exchange in the first half of 2010 after being launched on the bourse by Česká spořitelna and could also be traded on the Warsaw exchange, an unnamed source told HN.
Source: HN 17

Mobile phone sales to fall by 5% this year
The analytical group Gartner estimated that sales of mobile phones would drop by 5% this year, to 3.7 million, due to lower buying power and growing unemployment. Next year, sales should rise by 3% to 4%.
Source: ČTK

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