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Czech press review – Wednesday 31 December 2008

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Table of Contents


Schwarzenberg to travel to Middle East over Gaza

Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg will travel to Israel in a few days to help pacify the recent violence in Gaza. Schwarzenberg said that as a leading representative of the EU’s foreign policy, he wants to meet with all key players in the conflict.

most Czech press

Vondra to light Letná metronome to launch EU presidency

In the first minute of the New Year, Deputy Prime Minister for EU Affairs Alexandr Vondra will illuminate the metronome at Prague’s Letná park to launch the Czech EU presidency. The metronome will display the European Union colours.


ČSSD senator suspected of trying to get compromising info on colleague

ČSSD Senator Vladimír Dryml met with individuals posing as police and journalists in an apparent attempt to obtain compromising material on a fellow party member, MP Hana Orgoníková. Though the meeting was recorded, Dryml denied the accusations and said it was Orgoníková who was trying to get compromising material on him. Orgoníková rejected those allegations.

most Czech press

Public drinking to be tolerated tonight

Ludvík Klema, the deputy head of the Prague police, said police tonight will follow a common sense policy and will not penalise petty public drinking offences, though he said the rules against public drinking and littering will remain in force.

HN 4

Klaus’s New Year’s speech raises concern

Several Czech politicians are quoted by Lidové noviny as saying that eurosceptic President Václav Klaus could harm the Czech Republic in his New Year’s speech to be broadcast at 1pm on 1 January, as the country takes over the EU presidency. Czech Television will run a debate with PM Mirek Topolánek and European Commission head José Manuel Barroso or former President Václav Havel to comment on the speech.

LN 2, Právo 4

Toll collection to reach record high

Motorway tolls will reach a record this year in spite of the economic slowdown. Three days before the end of the year, revenues from lorry transport amounted to CZK 6.13 billion, compared with CZK 5 billion in 2007, when the toll system was launched.

Pharmacies to restrict sales of some drugs

Starting in late January, pharmacies are expected to require customers present their health insurance cards in order to buy certain types of medicines that potentially could be abused. These include cold and flu preparations containing pseudoephedrine, used for making illegal narcotics.


School receives subsidy to educate child prodigy

For the first time the Moravskoslezský region has provided a special subsidy for educating a child prodigy. The primary school in Kopřivnice-Lubina has received CZK 40,000 for schooling nine-year old Matěj Pavlík, who at the age of five could draw designs for rocket engines.

LN: KSČM hires anti-Semite as spokesman

The Communist Party has a new spokesman, Josef Tomáš, the former publisher of the ultra-right anti-Semitic weekly “Týdeník Politika”. Tomáš was given a seven-month jail sentence, suspended for two years in 1994. KSČM leader Vojtěch Filip said he isn’t familiar with Tomáš’s articles and doesn’t consider him a criminal.

LN 1, 4

HN lists unfulfilled political promises of 2008

Hospodářské noviny lists the top five broken political promises of 2008. These include failure to pass a ban on lorry traffic, which was only approved by the cabinet in the autumn; direct presidential elections and a new election law, which have not yet been discussed; a law against lobbyists, which wasn’t presented; and the health reform, which collapsed amid instability in the coalition.

HN 5

Hospitals owed millions in unpaid fees

A Mf Dnes poll shows healthcare facilities are owed tens of millions of crowns in unpaid mandatory health fees, mostly for long-term hospitalisation. The poll showed that no one has yet faced legal action over unpaid fees.

‘Fees’ becomes word of the year

In an end-of-the-year poll by Median for Lidové noviny, the word “fees”, as in “health fees”, became the word of the year in 2008. The words “crisis” and “Lisbon” came in second and third.

LN 1, 3


Confidence in economy lowest in 9 years

Confidence in the Czech economy fell to a nine-year low in December, the Czech Statistical Office said Tuesday. ČSOB economist Petr Dufek said concern over the impact of the global financial crisis was the biggest factor influencing consumer and business sentiment. A survey conducted by GfK for HN showed more than half (52%) of Czechs worry their standard of living will drop because of the crisis.

E15 3, HN 15

Czechs holding talks on Russian gas supplies

Czech representatives are negotiating in Russia to secure natural gas supplies to the European Union that are being jeopardised by a dispute between Russian gas giant Gazprom and Ukraine. Ukraine is a transit country for 80% of Russian gas heading to the EU.

Lack of finance hurting real estate market

Angus Wade, the head of the Czech branch of King Sturge real estate consultancy, said one of the main reasons for the current slowdown in the real estate market is a lack of finance. Investment in real estate in 2008 fell by almost two-thirds from EUR 2.69 billion in 2007 to EUR 1.06 billion. Investment consultant Dušan Šťastník said property prices are likely to be depressed in 2009 for nearly the whole year.

HN 15, 19

Crystalex ends production in Hostomice

Glass producer Crystalex Nový Bor, currently undergoing bankruptcy proceedings, will end production at its Hostomice plant and dismiss 136 employees as of the end of January. Bohemia Crystalex Trading’s spokesman Karel Samec said Tuesday the main reasons behind the move were a shortage of money for upgrading technology and a decline in orders.

ČTK, MfD A11

Heating plants want support for renewable resources

Czech heat producers next year are expected to demand financial support for using renewable resources that the state currently provides to electricity generators. Heating plants will have to invest billions of crowns in new technologies because of European Union standards and want to replace brown coal with renewable fuels.

New TV stations to be launched in 2009

The Czech television market will expand next year with up to six new channels expected to be launched. The largest investment, TV Barrandov, run by a group of investors led by steel tycoon Tomáš Chrenek, will start on 11 January. The music channel Óčko plans to begin nationwide broadcasting.

E15 4

Demand for Champagne growing

Czechs buy roughly 120,000-150,000 bottles of wine from the Champagne region of France every year and consumption is growing at 10-20% a year, according to Jiří Kočí of the wine seller Global Wines. Czechs will buy around 15.1 million bottles of sparkling wine this year, a rise of 400,000 bottles from 2007, a ČTK poll of producers and retailers showed.


Czech agriculture remains profitable in 2008

The Czech agricultural sector will end this year with a CZK 7-9 billion profit, a decline from a record CZK 14 billion in 2007, the Czech Statistical Office said. Subsidies to the sector increased by CZK 4 billion from last year’s CZK 21 billion.

Farmers’ unions fail to push through wage hikes

Agricultural trade unions and employers on Tuesday failed to agree on a collective wage agreement for 2009. Union members are seeking a wage increase to match inflation, which they predict at some 3%. Companies say their first priority is to avoid job and production cuts.


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