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Breakfast Brief – 29 October 2009

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Table of Contents

Klaus awards key figures
President Václav Klaus handed out 23 merit awards yesterday, including a First Class of the White Lion award to a now-deceased hero of the air force during WWII, Colonel Otakar Černý. Awards also went to singers Karel Gott and Eva Pilarová, and jockey Josef Váňa, among others.
Source: most Czech press

Fischer confirms that Klaus will sign Lisbon
Prime Minister Jan Fischer said he has received confirmation from President Václav Klaus that the president will sign the Lisbon Treaty without any delay or new conditions once Klaus’s demand for an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights is fulfilled.
Source: most Czech press

Klaus: ČR faces new dilemma on sovereignty
During a speech to foreign diplomats yesterday to mark the anniversary of the founding of the Czechoslovak state, President Václav Klaus said that 20 years after democracy was introduced to the country, the Czech Republic once again faces the dilemma of having to yield its sovereignty, this time to the EU. He was referring to the Lisbon Treaty.
Source: most Czech press

Court postpones Lisbon Treaty hearing till November 3
The chairman of the Constitutional Court, Pavel Rychetský, said the court will postpone its verdict on the Lisbon Treaty until 3 November. ČSSD Chairman Jiří Paroubek said the delay “borders on being an obstruction”.
Source: most Czech press

HN: Plzeň uni’s reputation forcing students out
HN reports that law students from the University of West Bohemia in Plzeň are applying to transfer to other universities, including to Masaryk University in Brno and Palacký University in Olomouc. The law faculty has been accused of fraudulent practices, including selling degrees. Some 95 dissertations by law faculty students are still missing.
Source: HN 5, Právo 4

Liberty Fighters’ chairwoman backs Klaus
The chairwoman of the Czech association of fighters for liberty (ČSBS), Anděla Dvořáková, expressed support for President Václav Klaus’s proposed opt-out for the Lisbon Treaty. She also warned about the rising influence of Sudeten Germans.
Source: LN 3, HN 4

Right-wing extremists protest in Prague
About 100 supporters of the far-right Workers’ Party demonstrated at Jiřího z Poděbrad square yesterday. Party leader Tomáš Vandas criticised a proposal to ban the party and linked last week’s police crackdown to a government attempt to find evidence against the party in order to abolish it.
Source: LN 4

Horáková memorial unveiled
About 200 people yesterday attended the unveiling of a memorial to Milada Horáková at náměstí Hrdinů in Prague. The head of the Chamber of Deputies, Miloslav Vlček (ČSSD), acknowledged that the Communist Party had made a financial contribution to the memorial, but said this was not enough. The Confederation of Political Prisoners had distanced itself from the memorial because of the Communist Party contribution. Horáková was sentenced to death in a communist show trial in 1950.
Source: Právo 2, ČTK

Staff at Prague zoo criticise departing director
A number of employees at the Prague zoo have criticised director Petr Fejk, who is leaving his post after 12 years to head the Bohemian National Hall in New York. The employees accuse Fejk of compromising animal welfare for greater visitor comfort. Fejk said the animals were treated as in other zoos.
Source: MfD A1, A5

Poll: Schwarzenberg ‘most-trusted’ politician
According to an October survey by CVVM, the Czech public most trusts Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) with 43% and Bohuslav Sobotka (ČSSD) with 37%, followed by Ondřej Liška of the Greens and Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09).
Source: ČTK

ČEZ to trade power plant for coal
According to a reports, state-owned energy giant ČEZ could soon exchange its ownership of a power plant in Počerady for a mine with the largest reserves of brown coal in the country, currently owned by Czech Coal. ČEZ spokesman Vladislav Kříž said other options include signing a long-term contract to buy coal or buying shares in the company. If the transaction goes through, it would become the second largest in the energy sector since 2000.
Source: HN 1, 13, 16, LN 1, 13

EU court: Austria can not rule on Temelín
The European Court of Justice decided on Tuesday that Upper Austrian courts do not have the authority to rule in a complaint brought against ČEZ concerning the possibly damaging effects of the Temelín nuclear power plant.
Source: ČTK

Cabinet memorandum to secure money for regional transport
The cabinet yesterday approved a memorandum, pushed through by the regions, on granting state subsidies for regional railway services. The memo would commit the state to subsidies worth CZK 2.65 billion a year for regional transport over the next 10 years. Private companies have criticised the proposal, saying it would limit free competition.
Source: E15 1, 10, 11

Česká spořitelna takes over Sazka loans
Česká spořitelna will assume the loans of the biggest Czech lottery company, Sazka, from Fortis bank as well as CZK 50 million in loans from Raiffeisenbank. The deal will provide time for Sazka to pay off existing debts incurred during building the O2 arena. Sazka is also behind in paying its shareholders: the sport associations.
Source: HN 1, 13

CME advertising income falls 30%
CME, which owns TV Nova, said advertising income fell 30% in the first three quarters of the year, compared with the previous year, due to lower demand. The company as a whole posted a loss of USD 42 million during the period, down from a profit of USD 60 million in 2008. Operating profit at TV Nova, Nova Sport and Nova Cinema fell to USD 61 million in the first three quarters, down from USD 114 million in 2008.
Source: HN 13, 14, 15, E15 12

Analysts: Erste’s Q3 profits to drop by half
Profit at Austria’s Erste Bank through the first three quarters is expected to fall by more than half from a year ago to CZK 700 million, analysts estimate. Erste and subsidiary Česká spořitelna will publish 3Q results tomorrow.
Source: ČTK

Mortgage volumes down 38% year-on-year
According to the Regional Development Ministry’s statistics, the volume of mortgage loans dropped 37.5% in the first nine months from the previous year. In 2008, banks paid out some CZK 90 billion in mortgages; in 2009, it was CZK 56.5 billion—the lowest level since 2005.
Source: ČTK

World Bank: ex-Communist EU economies to contract 4.2%
The World Bank is predicting the economies of 10 formerly communist EU-member countries will contract by a combined 4.2% this year. The countries’ collective GDP is expected to rise by only 1% next year.
Source: ČTK

EU law to limit losses on credit card theft
A new law that comes into effect in the EU from 1 November will limit customers’ financial obligations on lost or stolen credit cards to CZK 3,900 per card and will cancel fees for blocking a card. Until now, banks have been free to set conditions individually. The law will also speed up money transfers and oblige banks to provide customers with a free monthly statement.
Source: Právo 1, 7

VZP’s expenditures per client to rise in 2010
The leading health insurance company VZP said it will increase the amount of money it pays out per client by 0.5% in 2010, according to VZP spokesman Jiří Rod. VZP’s average expenses per client rose 6.4% between 2007 and 2008.
Source: ČTK

Farmers to protest against low milk prices
Farmers will spill about half a million litres of milk at eight locations around the country today to protest against low wholesale prices, Agricultural Chamber president Jan Veleba said.
Source: LN 15

Advertisers shedding Santa this Christmas
Experts say that advertisers are cutting back on using Santa Claus, a symbol of the West and globalisation, as a marketing tool during the recession. According to Petr Havlíček of the advertising agency Young & Rubicam, companies are basing their Christmas campaigns on low prices and discount offers.
Source: MfD A1, B4

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