Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.



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This news digest is selected and edited by the Czech Events Network


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 31 (CTK) - It would be absurd if President Milos Zeman wanted to influence the lineup of the Czech government as parliament may hold the prime minister responsible for the government's work, while the president is not responsible for anything, Jiri Hanak writes in daily Pravo today.

But Zeman can be expected to fight for his idea of the government lineup, following three defeats - the failure of his interim cabinet to win the parliament's confidence, the election fiasco of the Zemanites (SPOZ) and an unsuccessful coup in the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) led by former CSSD deputy chairman Michal Hasek, Hanak writes.
The leaders of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) will sign a coalition agreement on January 6, Hanak recalls.
He says the three leaders declared that they would jointly oppose any attempt of Zeman at influencing the government lineup. They promised loyalty to one another, which is a lot, Hanak writes.

Zbynek Petracek says in Lidove noviny (LN) that the interpretation of student-martyr Jan Palach's self-immolation will be more important than the fact whether the state would turn his native house into his museum.
Will his act be seen first of all as an appeal against social resignation or it will be a story of a man who was courageous enough to burn himself to death? Petracek asks.
He recalls that the Velvet Revolution was preceded by the commemoration of Palach's death in January 1989.

The 2014 Olympic Games and 2018 world football championship, both organised by Russia, should be the culmination of the Putin era in the eyes of the rest of the world, Martin Ehl writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN).
The sport events should improve the image of Russia that has problems with the quality of its rule and long-term economic growth, Ehl writes.
The recent terrorist attacks in Volgograd are a residue of the Chechen wars, in which Putin is considered the winner by most Russian inhabitants, but a minority does not share this view and it uses terrorism as its main weapon, Ehl says.
CTK

Zeman to meet possible PM Sobotka by weekend, discuss govt lineup
Prague, Dec 31 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman will receive Bohuslav Sobotka, head of the election-winning Social Democrats (CSSD) and the potential prime minister, by the end of the week to discuss the nascent cabinet's lineup, Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told CTK today.

In November, Zeman entrusted Sobotka to start government-forming negotiations. A coalition government is being formed by the CSSD and the two centrist partners, the ANO movement and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
Ovcacek said he does not expect Zeman to appoint Sobotka prime minister this week.
The coalition pact has not been signed as yet, he pointed out, refusing to anticipate the date of Sobotka's appointment.
The Presidential Office originally said Zeman would meet Sobotka shortly after New Year. Ovcacek today specified the information saying the meeting will take place this week.
Zeman and Sobotka will probably also discuss some candidates for ministers who are a point of controversy.
For example, Zeman recently said he would have problem appointing Martin Stropnicky (ANO), an actor and former diplomat, as defence minister.
The coalition partners, nevertheless, have nominated Stropnicky for the post.
"We will not comment on the personnel issues in the media," Ovcacek said today.
On Monday, Sobotka said he expects Zeman to appoint him prime minister in early January. He said he has met all conditions Zeman set for his appointment.
If Zeman showed reluctance to name some of the ministerial candidates proposed to him, Sobotka is ready to lodge a complaint with the Constitutional Court (US), he said, adding that he hopes that he will not be forced to take the step.
Sobotka and ANO and KDU-CSL leaders, Andrej Babis and Pavel Belobradek, are to sign the coalition agreement on Monday, when they are expected to definitively confirm the new cabinet's planned lineup.
CTK

Czech govt to debate energy plan, new Temelin units in 2014-press
Prague, Dec 31 (CTK) - The new Czech cabinet's tasks next year include the debate on whether to nod to the extension of the Temelin nuclear plant and whether a cheaper energy production is available in case the Temelin project were scrapped, Jan Zizka writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

By all means, 2014 will be the year of the biggest tender in the Czech Republic's history, put up for the construction of another two Temelin units and worth 250 billion crowns, though a definitive decision need not be made on it next year, Zizka writes.
The tender, now underway, involves two bidders, the U.S. Japanese company Westinghouse and the Russian-Czech consortium MIR.1200.
While the tender has been organised by Temelin's operator, the state co-owned energy giant CEZ, it is up to the cabinet to decide on whether to give the green light to the new nuclear units. Its decision will be part of a broader decision on how the country's energy policy should look like in the next decades, Zizka writes.
Documents for the decision making have been already prepared by the Industry and Trade Ministry. They include the draft state energy plan that reckons with the construction of further nuclear power plants.
But this is not enough since Temelin's extension is disputable from CEZ's purely commercial viewpoint, Zizka writes.
That is why the ministry has also drafted a bill enabling to set and guarantee a buyout price of the energy generated by the planned new nuclear units, he says.
This, however, should not be a unilateral state subsidy as in the case of the now infamous, scandal-ridden subsidies to renewable sources of energy. If the market price of energy crossed the state-guaranteed price, it would be CEZ who would give up a part of its profit to the benefit of its clients, energy consumers, Zizka writes, citing the draft legislation.
Judging by the campaign before the October 2013 general election, the above system, shaped according to the British model, does not enjoy support of the parties in parliament. The question, nevertheless, is how members of the new cabinet will react when faced with "tough reality," Zizka writes.
Even if the cabinet came to the conclusion that Temelin's extension would bring no direct profit, it would face another puzzle - of whether there is any cheaper way to secure the country's energy needs, Zizka says.
From this point of view, the chances of nuclear power plants rise steeply in competition with other sources, though it will probably turn out that the need of new nuclear units is not that urgent. Maybe it will suffice if they start generating energy around 2030, Zizka writes.
He says the cabinet can be expected to consider other ways to extend Temelin without the buyout price guarantees, which, in addition, may be disliked by the European Commission.
One of such possible ways has recently been outlined by Milan Urban, shadow industry minister for the election-winning Social Democrats (CSSD). Temelin's new units need not be necessarily built by CEZ but a new, 100-percent state-owned company that would not have to take regard of minority shareholders, Urban told the Ceska pozice server.
Such a plan still sounds too bold, however, Zizka writes.
Moreover, the course of the Temelin tender will be further complicated by the ongoing dispute with the French bidder, Areva, which CEZ previously excluded from it, he writes.
The French have challenged the humiliation and the case has been separately dealt with by a Czech regional court and the European Commission.
Another scenario has emerged in the meantime. A demand for a quick construction of another unit has been raised by advocates of the other Czech nuclear power plant, southern Moravian Dukovany, which is also operated by CEZ and whose older units are threatened with closure in about 12 years, Zizka writes.
CEZ general director Daniel Benes has already admitted the possibility of at least one of the planned new reactors being built in the Dukovany complex rather than in Temelin, Zizka concludes.
($1=19.909 crowns)
CTK

Czech Social Democrat leader Sobotka against Sochi boycott
Prague, Dec 30 (CTK) - Probable future prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) told CTK today that he was against Czech politicians boycotting the Sochi Olympics.

Sobotka said his first foreign visit in the prime minister's post would be to Slovakia.
He also wants to focus on the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries.
"As far as Sochi is concerned, I do not want to avoid it," Sobotka said, answering the question of whether he was about to go to the Olympics staged by Russia.
"I said earlier that I do not consider it suitable for the Czech Republic's top officials boycotting the Sochi Olympics. I consider this very unreasonable. On the contrary, I believe that we are able to open the question of support to human rights protection if we do not stop speaking with Russians," Sobotka said.
The winter Olympics will not be attended by a number of world personalities including German President Joachim Gauck and his French opposite number Francois Hollande. They reacted to the violation of human rights and the law banning the promotion of homosexuality.
However, Czech President Milos Zeman has vowed to come to Russia. He said he was ready to disclose his views of the state of human rights there.
As far as other foreign trips are concerned, Sobotka said if appointed, he wanted to follow up the tradition and first go to Slovakia.
Sobotka said in foreign policy, he wanted to focus on the improvement of the Czech Republic's position in the EU and the building of narrower relations with rapidly growing economies.
"In my view, we necessarily need to improve our perception in the EU and to improve our negotiating position. This will be a task both for the prime minister and the foreign minister," Sobotka said.
"The second line is support to our export to rapidly growing economies, in particular the BRICS countries. This will be a task both for the industry and trade minister and the prime minister," said Sobotka, who spoke about China as the priority country.
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Slovakia to admit another three inmates from U.S. Guantanamo jail
Bratislava, Dec 31 (CTK) - Slovakia will admit another three inmates released from Guantanamo, the U.S. military prison in Cuba where persons suspected of terrorism are kept in custody, Slovak RTVS television channel has reported, citing the Interior Ministry.

In the past, Slovakia admitted three men from the custody prison. The three, reportedly coming from Egypt, Azerbaijan and Tunisia, were granted Slovak permanent residence permit in 2010.
According to the Slovak Interior Ministry, the new three men coming to Slovakia are Uyghur Chinese who have not been found guilty of terrorism.
"Like in the case of the first transport, they are persons who have been neither suspected nor accused of the crime of terrorism. It means further implementation of the agreement from 2009," RTVS cited the ministry's statement.
On arrival in office in 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama promised to close down Guantanamo, a widely criticised prison facility that was founded in 2001 after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
The USA seeks agreement with other countries on their admission of Guantanamo inmates.
About 150 prisoners are still jailed in Guantanamo and the fulfilment of Obama's promise has been repeatedly postponed.
Several countries, including Slovakia, have met Washington's request. The Czech Republic, Slovakia's neighbour and former partner in the Czechoslovak federation, is not considering admitting released Guantanamo inmates.
CTK


 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.



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This news digest is selected and edited by the Czech Events Network


Monday, December 30 ,2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 30 (CTK) - The story of the Czech Republic 2013 has been the most colourful in the past few years, Petr Honzejk writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today and enumerates the milestones of political developments in the year that is ending.

Milos Zeman, the first president chosen in a direct election, is dismantling parliamentary democracy. Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS), who stepped down in June, is the first prime minister standing on the brink of criminal prosecution, Honzejk writes.
The outgoing government of Jiri Rusnok is the first government ruling without legitimacy. Billionaire Andrej Babis, ANO movement chairman, is the first large businessman to wield political power, Honzejk writes.
He writes that the outgoing year is a year of disasters rather than a year of crossroads.
Zeman has run into opposition of democratic politicians as well as the public. His illegitimate government is ending. Courts have stood up against the criminalisation of politics, Honzejk writes.
However, he writes that the country will be standing at the most important crossroads next year. Where will Andrej Babis be heading and what will the country do with him?

The trend towards political resentment in the Czech Republic was definitively confirmed in the October general election, Anna Durnova, who lectures political science at Vienna University, writes in Pravo.
The resentment was proved proved not only by the lower support for the two once-time major parties, the Civic Democrats (ODS) and Social Democrats (CSSD), but also the growth in the popularity of populist groupings, such as the Dawn and the ANO movement.
Yet, people start to extend their resentment to the ANO movement now as well, Durnova writes.
The dubious nomination of Martin Stropnicky for defence minister, the awkward holiday of Martin Komarek who preferred it to participating in government negotiations, and the consistently sarcastic reactions of ANO head Andrej Babis to media commentaries start to slowly change the image of this "pure" political movement, not tarnished with politics.
It is only a matter of time before voters start to lament that ANO also only seeks its own interests, Durnova writes.

The mini-battle for the Agriculture Ministry within the government-forming negotiations shows the character of the new political representatives whose particular players openly act as proponents of interest groups, Martin Zverina writes in Lidove noviny (LN).
The Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) are considered protectors of small private farmers. The Social Democrats (CSSD), thanks to their senator Jan Veleba, chairman of the Agrarian Chamber, support large businesspeople, Zverina writes.
And President Milos Zeman, pressing for current "caretaker" minister Miroslav Toman to stay at the ministry in the position of deputy wants to preserve at least part of his influence while he is playing into the hands of particular interests, Zverina writes.
He writes that the ANO movement that does business in the farming sphere is standing aside, but Babis to use ANO to promote his business interests in govt- press
Prague, Dec 30 (CTK) - Czech entrepreneur Andrej Babis evidently plans to use his ANO movement to push through his business interests, a practice he criticised as unacceptable under the previous government, Jiri Leschtina writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.
He reacts to ANO's candidates for ministers whom Babis promotes regardless of President Milos Zeman's reservations.
Babis and the heads of the other two parties of the nascent government coalition, Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) and Pavel Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL), have so far resisted the political pressure of Zeman who threatens with obstructions in appointing some ministers, Leschtina writes.
This became obvious mainly when Babis recently ignored Zeman's appeals on him to demand the seat of foreign minister for ANO's Martin Stropnicky instead of the planned Defence Ministry, Leschtina writes.
Babis did not get scared of Zeman's blackmailing threat that he would not appoint Stropnicky defence minister over his lack of professional experience and competence in the defence area. By insisting on Stropnicky as defence minister, he thwarted Zeman's first attempt to oust the CSSD's candidate for foreign minister, Lubomir Zaoralek, Leschtina writes.
Observers say Zeman, former CSSD chairman and prime minister who fell out with the party in the 2000s, resents Zaoralek, but also Sobotka and others in the CSSD for having "betrayed" him and thwarted his election as president by parliament in 2003.
It will be interesting to see whether Sobotka, potential new prime minister, will stick to his plan irrespective of Zeman's opinion and whether he will propose his allies, whom Zeman resents, for ministers, Leschtina writes.
These closely watched candidates are not only Zaoralek or Jiri Dienstbier, who may be proposed for minister without portfolio and head of the Government Legislative Council, Leschtina says.
After the seat of labour and social affairs minister fell to the CSSD in the government-forming negotiations, Vladimir Spidla, former PM and EU commissioner for employment and social affairs, has logically emerged as a possible candidate for the post, Leschtina writes.
Will Sobotka dare to submit the ministerial candidacy of Spidla, whom Zeman views as his biggest foe but whose omission Sobotka could hardly explain to his supporters? Leschtina asks.
By all means, the comeback of Spidla, whose professional qualities and experience cannot be challenged by Zeman, would be an interesting symbol reminding that not all former Czech prime ministers must necessarily fall out with their respective parties and devastate them by retaliatory destructive attacks, Leschtina writes.
He alludes to the hostile relations to their original mother parties of former prime ministers Zeman, Jiri Paroubek (both CSSD at that time) and Vaclav Klaus (then Civic Democrats, ODS).
Sobotka has made a big mistake by allowing himself to get entangled in a coalition dispute over the post of agriculture minister, Leschtina continues.
Sobotka did so though it was actually a clash between the two junior coalition partners, the KDU-CSL and Babis. The latter wanted the ministry to be headed by a Social Democrat rather than a Christian Democrat, since the CSSD, like ANO, emphasises the state support to big agricultural companies while the KDU-CSL wants to enhance small family farms, Leschtina writes.
This dispute unveiled the determination of Babis, who owns the country's biggest food-processing company Agrofert, to influence developments in agriculture. This actually confirms what was widely supposed: Babis plans to use politics to promote his business, Leschtina writes.
Also striking was the Agrarian Chamber's interference in the dispute and its tough opposition to the KDU-CSL's filling the post of agriculture minister, he says.
Such an open interference by a NGO in government-forming negotiations is unprecedented. It nourishes the apprehension that powerful industrial chambers and corporations will have a strong say in the future government. They will promote particular interests of big producers and latent monopolies rather than those of millions of consumers, Leschtina writes.
In the campaign ahead of the late October general elections, Babis loudly condemned parties' corrupt misalliances with business. He mainly criticised the mainstream ODS and CSSD as instruments of business groups to push through their interests, Leschtina writes.
The ongoing government-forming talks, however, definitely have not dispersed the fear that ANO, too, will be a political instrument for Babis to push through his business interests, Leschtina adds.
In Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD), Vladimir Sevela points out that ANO's candidate for the environment minister, Richard Brabec, heads the supervisory board of Agrofert's Lovochemie chemical plant which is the country's third biggest polluter of rivers, according to environmentalists.
The passing of new pro-environment legislation has been repeatedly postponed in the Czech Republic and a business lobby tends to gradually prevail over nature protection. The recent environment ministers, Pavel Drobil and Tomas Chalupa (both ODS), also dramatically cut the state support to the NGOs monitoring environment pollution and polluters, Sevela writes.
Can Brabec, from a chemical plant that ranks among the leading polluters, be expected to raise the NGOs' budget? Sevela asks in conclusion.
rtj/t/ms only at first sight.
That political parties aggregate certain group interests is normal and it has always been so, but never before has there been such an overt corporativist attitude where a mere agreement of interest groups concerned plays the decisive role, Zverina writes.
CTK

New Czech PM will be man of defeats and concessions - press
Prague, Dec 30 (CTK) - The 11th PM since the Czech Republic was created in 1993 will probably be a man who has reached his position applying an as yet unknown tactic of larger or smaller defeats and concessions that accompanied him throughout 2013, Jindrich Sidlo writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

The man is Bohuslav Sobotka, 42, chairman of the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD), that won the October early general election, but with only 20.5 percent while it expected to garner 30 percent at least.
It was said at the beginning of the year it would be a really big surprise if Sobotka did not become prime minister in 2014, when a regular general election was to be held, because the CSSD was leading public opinion polls with a big lead, Sidlo writes.
However, on his way to the premiership, Sobotka, a career politician who has spent all his adult life in the power epicentre either as a lawmaker or a minister, was confronted with so many difficulties that his current position is actually a big surprise for him alone, Sidlo writes.
The problems started in January during the first direct presidential election when Jiri Dienstbier, the candidate of the strongest opposition party, the CSSD, clearly leading voter preferences, Sobotka's ally and the most popular "party" politician in the country, only placed fourth, Sidlo writes.
The first-round win of Milos Zeman showed that the creator of the post-communist Social Democracy [which he left in 2007] still enjoys a greater popularity even ten years after early retirement than any contemporary CSSD politician, Sidlo writes.
Sobotka was left with little space to manoeuvre and the CSSD leadership called on party voters to support Zeman against Karel Schwarzenberg, TOP 09 head, in the presidential election run-off, which may have been an unnecessary advice whose sense Sobotka formulated after Zeman's clear overall victory, Sidlo writes.
"The party is no longer controlled by any personality cult and it is capable of creating pragmatic relations of cooperation with Milos Zeman where this will be logical in terms of the programme and where it will be mutually advantageous," Sidlo recalls what Sobotka told HN then.
It was a typical example of wishful thinking even though Sobotka, who started in the 1990s as one of the most loyal young Zemanites but gradually became his prominent enemy, must have known well himself, Sidlo writes.
Sobotka did defend the post of party chairman based on agreement with Michal Hasek at the March congress that Zeman attended one week after his inauguration in full strength, but further developments at the congress indicated that their coexistence will be no idyl.
Dienstbier was not elected deputy chairman and Zeman ostentatiously made it clear whom he considers promising figures in the CSSD, Sidlo writes.
He writes that the fall of Petr Necas's (Civic Democrats, ODS) centre-right coalition government in June offered Zeman a chance to revive his power instincts.
This resulted in the appointment of the "presidential" interim government of Jiri Rusnok and creating space for Hasek and his allies, Sidlo writes.
Sobotka was long sticking to his line and claimed that the presidential government cannot win parliament's confidence. It seemed he is serious about this and that he is even resolved not to shun a conflict if need be, Sidlo writes.
But Sobotka eventually gave in and the CSSD supported the government. When Zeman's plan to keep Rusnok's government in power until the regular election in 2014 failed, Sobotka eventually led the party to an early general election with support of 57 percent of members of the party central committee, Sidlo writes.
However, the party did not fulfil the goal of winning 30 percent of the vote after eight years spent in opposition and Sobotka came down in history as a CSSD leader who brought the party to the worst result since 1992, Sidlo writes.
Yet, it is known from Czech politics that the most reliable salvation for a politician is a conspiracy against him, particularly if carried out with such comic clumsiness that Hasek and his friends showed, Sidlo writes.
He recalls that their impatience made them visit Zeman right on the second and last election day [to discuss how to remove Sobotka from the head of the party and as the government chief negotiator].
Similarly like Vaclav Klaus, whom intra-ODS enemies wanted to eliminate in 1997, Sobotka, a politician who lost what could be lost, became a chased victim arousing the sympathies of the idealistic crowds in the squares, Sidlo writes.
As a result, Sobotka, a veteran of Czech politics in spite of his young age, will become prime minister because there is probably no force that could stop him, not even himself, Sidlo writes.
CTK

Babis to use ANO to promote his business interests in govt- press
Prague, Dec 30 (CTK) - Czech entrepreneur Andrej Babis evidently plans to use his ANO movement to push through his business interests, a practice he criticised as unacceptable under the previous government, Jiri Leschtina writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

He reacts to ANO's candidates for ministers whom Babis promotes regardless of President Milos Zeman's reservations.
Babis and the heads of the other two parties of the nascent government coalition, Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) and Pavel Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL), have so far resisted the political pressure of Zeman who threatens with obstructions in appointing some ministers, Leschtina writes.
This became obvious mainly when Babis recently ignored Zeman's appeals on him to demand the seat of foreign minister for ANO's Martin Stropnicky instead of the planned Defence Ministry, Leschtina writes.
Babis did not get scared of Zeman's blackmailing threat that he would not appoint Stropnicky defence minister over his lack of professional experience and competence in the defence area. By insisting on Stropnicky as defence minister, he thwarted Zeman's first attempt to oust the CSSD's candidate for foreign minister, Lubomir Zaoralek, Leschtina writes.
Observers say Zeman, former CSSD chairman and prime minister who fell out with the party in the 2000s, resents Zaoralek, but also Sobotka and others in the CSSD for having "betrayed" him and thwarted his election as president by parliament in 2003.
It will be interesting to see whether Sobotka, potential new prime minister, will stick to his plan irrespective of Zeman's opinion and whether he will propose his allies, whom Zeman resents, for ministers, Leschtina writes.
These closely watched candidates are not only Zaoralek or Jiri Dienstbier, who may be proposed for minister without portfolio and head of the Government Legislative Council, Leschtina says.
After the seat of labour and social affairs minister fell to the CSSD in the government-forming negotiations, Vladimir Spidla, former PM and EU commissioner for employment and social affairs, has logically emerged as a possible candidate for the post, Leschtina writes.
Will Sobotka dare to submit the ministerial candidacy of Spidla, whom Zeman views as his biggest foe but whose omission Sobotka could hardly explain to his supporters? Leschtina asks.
By all means, the comeback of Spidla, whose professional qualities and experience cannot be challenged by Zeman, would be an interesting symbol reminding that not all former Czech prime ministers must necessarily fall out with their respective parties and devastate them by retaliatory destructive attacks, Leschtina writes.
He alludes to the hostile relations to their original mother parties of former prime ministers Zeman, Jiri Paroubek (both CSSD at that time) and Vaclav Klaus (then Civic Democrats, ODS).
Sobotka has made a big mistake by allowing himself to get entangled in a coalition dispute over the post of agriculture minister, Leschtina continues.
Sobotka did so though it was actually a clash between the two junior coalition partners, the KDU-CSL and Babis. The latter wanted the ministry to be headed by a Social Democrat rather than a Christian Democrat, since the CSSD, like ANO, emphasises the state support to big agricultural companies while the KDU-CSL wants to enhance small family farms, Leschtina writes.
This dispute unveiled the determination of Babis, who owns the country's biggest food-processing company Agrofert, to influence developments in agriculture. This actually confirms what was widely supposed: Babis plans to use politics to promote his business, Leschtina writes.
Also striking was the Agrarian Chamber's interference in the dispute and its tough opposition to the KDU-CSL's filling the post of agriculture minister, he says.
Such an open interference by a NGO in government-forming negotiations is unprecedented. It nourishes the apprehension that powerful industrial chambers and corporations will have a strong say in the future government. They will promote particular interests of big producers and latent monopolies rather than those of millions of consumers, Leschtina writes.
In the campaign ahead of the late October general elections, Babis loudly condemned parties' corrupt misalliances with business. He mainly criticised the mainstream ODS and CSSD as instruments of business groups to push through their interests, Leschtina writes.
The ongoing government-forming talks, however, definitely have not dispersed the fear that ANO, too, will be a political instrument for Babis to push through his business interests, Leschtina adds.
In Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD), Vladimir Sevela points out that ANO's candidate for the environment minister, Richard Brabec, heads the supervisory board of Agrofert's Lovochemie chemical plant which is the country's third biggest polluter of rivers, according to environmentalists.
The passing of new pro-environment legislation has been repeatedly postponed in the Czech Republic and a business lobby tends to gradually prevail over nature protection. The recent environment ministers, Pavel Drobil and Tomas Chalupa (both ODS), also dramatically cut the state support to the NGOs monitoring environment pollution and polluters, Sevela writes.
Can Brabec, from a chemical plant that ranks among the leading polluters, be expected to raise the NGOs' budget? Sevela asks in conclusion.
CTK

Lack of national strategy makes Czechs critical of state - press
Prague, Dec 30 (CTK) - The Czech Republic lacks clear, comprehensible and feasible goals and a strategy to achieve them, which largely contributes to the dissatisfaction with the state that Czechs have repeatedly expressed in public opinion polls, writes the political weekly Respekt out today.

Surveyed by Respekt, most candidates for ministers in the nascent cabinet said the country's goal is to renew economic growth and secure an effective state that would provide quality services and facilitate economic development.
Economic growth is useful but it is not enough as a country's long-term goal. First, it is not influenced by the government alone. Second, and above all, it is a mere means to achieve a functioning state, Respekt writes.
Czech politics is full of disputes over details whose meaning and importance, however, are incomprehensible to people, the weekly continues.
In the past, the Czech nation always made the fastest progress when it had a comprehensible goal, such as its [18th-19th-century] effort to catch up with the more advanced German civilisation or its post-1989 effort to reintroduce the rule of law, transform the [command] economy and join NATO and the EU, Respekt writes.
After joining NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004, however, Czech politics put off another long-term goal, the introduction of the euro and a tighter European integration, and replaced it with "everyday politics" as the country's long-term vision, Respekt writes.
Mirek Topolanek's (Civic Democrats, ODS) centre-right coalition government (2007-2010) presented a flat tax, health care reform, reduction of the budget deficit, climate protection and the Czech EU presidency as the priorities of its agenda.
The following cabinet of Petr Necas (ODS, 2010-June 2013) mainly vowed to save money, push through reforms such as of the pension and education systems, and the fight against corruption, Respekt writes.
A new, Social Democrat (CSSD)-led government is emerging now, with its coalition pact being a mere summary of partial steps including the state stocktaking, an uncompromising fight against corruption and the development of quality and accessible public services, the weekly says.
These goals are far from unimportant but their fulfilment is strongly affected by details yet to be decided on, such as the wording of the relevant laws and directives. That is why they say only little about the country's long-term strategy, Respekt writes.
The Czech Republic has stagnated since its EU accession effort at the turn of the millennium. Important reforms have failed to be pushed through and the quality of the state functioning has been improving only slowly. It is hard to find an agenda that could be called decisive for the Czech Republic's orientation and strategy, judging by the concentration of the state's intellectual and financial capacities on it, Respekt writes.
For example, all Czech governments speak of support to education as their priority, but the Czech Republic places 23rd in the EU in terms of education spending, the weekly continues.
An improvement cannot be expected. In the past ten years, the Czech Republic increased its education spending less than Estonia, which is poorer and which has been more afflicted by the economic crisis, Respekt writes.
The Czech state's spending on science and research has increased considerably, but less than in other countries including Estonia, it says.
The Czech spending on pro-employment policy, another of the government priorities, makes up less than 1 percent of GDP, compared with almost 4 percent in Estonia and 2.25 and 3.7 percent in Austria and Denmark, respectively, it adds.
Similarly, the Czech right-wing cabinets emphasised support to business, but the country is 65th in the world in terms of easiness of doing business, while Estonia is 31st, Respekt writes.
True, this need not be the state's most important expenditure. However, all governments in the past 12 years presented it as their priority, but without the desired effect, the weekly says.
In spite of the parties' and governments' strong ideological rhetoric, it is hard to find something the Czech governments really strive for and consider important. All indicators present the Czech Republic as the East European average without any respectful achievement, Respekt continues.
It writes that CSSD deputy chairman and potential foreign minister Lubomir Zaoralek is probably right when he says the Czech Republic may not keep among advanced countries in the future.
"Instead, it will switch eastwards without functioning institutions, without a strategy," Zaoralek is quoted as saying.
If this were to change, Czech politics must seek meaningful long-term goals. In the past 20 years, the Czech Republic has lacked an internal motor to develop, react to the current problems and change into the desirable "functioning state," Respekt writes.
Motivation can be sought where the neighbouring countries seek it - in the European project. This is the essence of the notorious praising of nations' participation in the European integration. It is impossible to get a bigger portion of security and prosperity elsewhere, the weekly concludes.
CTK

Some Czech health reforms halted in 2013, fees to be abolished
Prague, Dec 29 (CTK) - Some of the planned reforms of Czech health care, including a fundamental change to the operation of health insurance companies, aimed to improve the building of a network of hospitals and out-patient surgeries and the control of insurers' financial management were quit this year.

The Constitutional Court (US) complied with a complaint by the opposition and abolished hospital fees and the government coalition in the making wants to also scrap fees patients pay in surgeries and pharmacies. People would only pay for extra hours.
Doctors' professional organisations as well as health trade unions warn that the abolition of fees, that now bring 5.5 billion crowns to the sector, will further aggravate its budget that is tense already now.
The health care sector consumes 290 billion crowns annually now.
The health care trade unions have been on strike alert and warnings have been made by the hospitals, trade union and patients' emergency committee, the spas emergency committee, doctors' associations and professional chambers.
Currently, a dispute over a new decree determining payments per treatment is underway. Medical workers have sent several open letters to outgoing Health Minister Martin Holcat.
He replied to them saying his decree gives the sector ten billion crowns more for care in 2014 than what his predecessor Leos Heger's (TOP 09) gave it this year.
Holcat also said the decree contains fewer regulations as demanded by the US.
Holcat has headed the Health Ministry since the fall of Petr Necas's (Civic Democrats) centre-right coalition government in June.
The negotiations about a new health minister of the future government coalition still continue.
Health care employees have tried to push through their demands via petitions this year. They focused on what they called the salvation of a good-quality health care and on the salvation of spa industry and protested at the planned fusions of some medical institutes and hospitals.
($1=19.865 crowns)
CTK

 


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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Government's fall affects Czech political situation in 2013
Prague, Dec 28 (CTK) - The political situation in the Czech Republic was affected in 2013 mainly by the June fall of the centre-right coalition cabinet of Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) in consequence of a case involving his former aide Jana Nagyova, whom he married later, and several former ODS lawmakers.

The political government was replaced by a caretaker team of Jiri Rusnok that President Milos Zeman appointed against the will of politicians. The Chamber of Deputies did not vote confidence in it in August, but the government continues to rule the country to date.
It will be replaced by a new three-coalition government of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO movement and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), based on the results of an early general election in end-October.
Necas's former government emerged from the 2010 general election and it comprised the ODS, TOP 09 and Public Affairs (VV). The VV, however, disintegrated in April 2012. Some lawmakers created LIDEM that replaced the VV in the government.
The government was tormented by internal disputes for some time. This year, disputes started right in January when Necas counter-signed an amnesty declared by then president Vaclav Klaus. Some government members were surprised at the extent of the amnesty that also applied to some high-profile corruption cases.
The government parties also squabbled over the vacant post of defence minister, attitude to the abolition of the controversial system of electronic sCard for welfare payment and the EU fiscal pact that the Czech Republic did not eventually sign.
Zeman justified the appointment of Rusnok's government without any political support saying, among others, a majority of people did not wish Necas's government or any other government involving the three parties of his government to continue to govern the country.
Zeman claimed Necas's government does enjoy people's trust, but Rusnokś caretaker team has not succeeded in raising it palpably.
Necas's government was trusted by 18 percent when it fell in June while Rusnok's government is trusted by 24 percent of people, or a mere 6 percentage points more, according to a CVVM poll this month.
The government replacement, the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies and the early election slowed down the legislative process for some time.
Many bills prepared by Necas's government were swept aside over the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies that the lawmakers approved in August after the majority of Necas's coalition disintegrated when lawmakers took a vote on confidence in Rusnok's government.
The lawmakers made use of the possibility to dissolve the lower house of parliament and so open the way for early elections for the first time since 1993 when the independent Czech Republic was established.
Still before the house was dissolved, the government coalition managed to push through a restriction of support to the production of power from renewable sources to be put into operation as from January 1, 2014.
Necas's government pushed through a bill on the compulsory marking of spirit in reaction to the autumn 2012 scandal with poisonous bootleg alcohol that cost the lives of several tens of people.
The government also pushed through a bill on state-church settlement under which churches are to get back the property confiscated from them by the communist regime and be compensated for the property that can no longer be returned. The emerging government would like to change the arrangement that it considers too generous.
The caretaker government did not agree with thc Civic Code that Necas's government prepared and that will take effect in January 2014, but it did not block the passing of the accompanying legislation.
Defence Minister Vlastimil Picek, the sole minister of Necas's government who continues in Rusnok's government, has completed the negotiations about an extension of the lease of Swedish-made Gripen fighters by 14 years. The prepared agreement is to be signed by the emerging government.
Necas's government did not manage to complete some of its fundamental bills. Outgoing Justice Minister Marie Benesova has withdrawn a bill on state attorney's offices that was to strengthen state attorneys' independence, abolish both high state attorney's offices and introduce a specialised anti-corruption office. She said she is not satisfied with the bill and that she wants to rework it.
Necas's government took some austerity measures while the caretaker government has raised spendings on welfare and health care, among others. The minimal wage was raised by 500 crowns to 8500 gross a month and the state's health insurance payment for some groups of people by a total of 4.7 billion crowns a year.
($1=19.865 crowns)
CTK

Czech Chamber of Deputies dissolves itself for first time
Prague, Dec 28 (CTK) - The Chamber of Deputies dissolved itself in August for the first time since the independent Czech Republic was established in 1993 and it did not operate for about three months.

The lower house of parliament experienced another premier when state attorneys asked it to release prime minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) for criminal prosecution even though this happened at a time when Necas was already an outgoing prime minister.
The lineup of the lower house was markedly changed in the end-October early general election that followed the resignation of Necas and his government in June and the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies in August.
The new house has already received two requests for the release of two new lawmakers for criminal prosecution. It released Bronislav Schwarz (ANO), charged with abuse of power and unlawful restraint.
It has not yet made any decision on Bohuslav Svoboda (ODS), former mayor of Prague, prosecuted in the case of Opencard, a smart e-card of Praguers.
The early election, triggered by the scandal involving Necas's former aide Jana Nagyova, whom he married in August.
The elections brought 118 new faces to the 200-seat lower house. A total of 120 lawmakers sought re-election in them. Some of the new ones were sitting in the house in past terms already.
The elections returned the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) to the Chamber of Deputies after three years.
Two new movements, ANO of billionaire Andrej Babis and the Dawn of Direct Democracy of businessman and former senator Tomio Okamura also succeeded in the elections.
Seven entities entered the Chamber of Deputies, the biggest number since 1992 when eight parties were elected to then Czech National Council.
The difference of 1.8 percent between this year's election winner, the CSSD, and the entity in second position, ANO, was the tightest ever.
The parties on the right of the political spectrum lost. The ODS scored the worst result since it was founded in 1991.
Public Affairs (VV), a junior party in Necas's government until April 2012 when it split and went into opposition, and the National Socialists - LEV 21 of former CSSD chairman and prime minister Jiri Paroubek, disappeared from the lower house.
The dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies stopped a number of submitted bills, including a controversial constitutional bill on budget responsibility and a bill extending the powers of the Supreme Audit Office (NKU).
The new Chamber of Deputies was constituted in end-November, about one month after the elections. Jan Hamacek (CSSD) replaced Miroslava Nemcova (ODS) at the head of the house.
The lawmakers managed to pass a bill on the 2014 state budget in a record short time. Normally, the process takes about two and a half months, this year two weeks sufficed for it.
The Chamber of Deputies was dissolved in consequence of an alleged bribery scandal involving three then ODS lawmakers and the alleged shadowing of Necas's then wife Radka. Nagyova-Necasova figures in both cases.
The three lawmakers agreed to give up their deputy mandates and so make it possible for the passing of key government bills with which they disagreed and with which Necas tied a confidence vote in his government in exchange for lucrative posts in state firms.
State attorneys eventually withdrew their request for the release of Necas for criminal prosecution after the Supreme Court ruled that deputies' immunity also covers political agreements and compromises.
However, Necas did not seek re-election in the early election. He can be prosecuted now because the Chamber of Deputies abolished the life immunity of lawmakers, senators and constitutional judges earlier this year, which means that they are only protected during the tenure of the deputy mandate.
CTK

Well-off Czechs divert from stocks, gold to works of art - press
Prague, Dec 28 (CTK) - Well-off Czechs focus on works of art, particularly paintings, now that trust in stocks or gold has been shaken by the financial crisis of the past years, and according to the preliminary data their spendings reached a record level this year, daily Pravo writes today.

It writes that Czechs have spent over 900 million crowns on works of art this year according to the data by the ART+ Internet portal, compared with 881 million crowns last year and 645 million in 2011.
Paintings are one of few commodities whose price is not decreasing in the long term, it does not fluctuate, but on the contrary, it keeps rising, Pravo writes.
It writes that the prices of works by time-tested known and usually already deceased artists are usually only rising while this is not sure in case of contemporary artists. Their prices, however, rise with time.
According to Jan Skrivanek, editor-in-chief of the monthly Art+Antique focused on the arts, design and antiquities market, a Czech inter-war clerk could buy a painting by Czech Cubist painter Emil Filla (1882-1953) or by Jan Zrzavy (1890-1977) for two or three monthly salaries, Pravo writes.
About three-quarters of a century later, one of Filla's works was auctioned off for 18.375 million crowns in January and it became the second most expensive work of art bought at Czech auctions this year.
The average gross monthly pay is over 25,000 crowns now.
"Not authors, but particular works of art are bought," Skrivanek said, adding that even an interesting work by an unknown author can fetch a great price.
And on the contrary, average-value pieces by Filla or Zrzavy, who otherwise belong to the most expensive authors, do not often find a buyer at an auction, Skrivan said.
He said it is generally evident that collectors' interest in post-war art is slowly growing. A new price record was set in this category last spring when a painting by Czech painter Mikulas Medek (1926-74) was sold for six million crowns, Skrivan said.
This year the number of works of art auctioned off for higher sums was noteworthy, Pravo writes.
Some 130 paintings were sold for more than one million crowns and another 785 paintings, sculptures and antiquities were sold fro minimally 100,000 crowns, according to ART+, Pravo writes.
Other records were set at auctions in less watched spheres of plastic arts this year. The famous glass sculpture, Silhouette of the Town III by Czechs Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova of 1989, fetched 1.32 million crowns at Dorotheum in November.
($1=19.865 crowns)
CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 28 (CTK) - The Czech economy would be best helped by an easing and stabilisation of the overall economic and business environment rather than by a currency easing in the form of the central bank's intervention, Lukas Kovanda writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today.

He writes, however, that the Czechs can do nothing about a number of regulations because they take their origin in Brussels, not in Prague.
Kovanda writes that a number of Czechs have quite big savings and if they had a more certainties as for the economic environment, they would invest more, employ more people, spend more money and consume more goods, which si precisely what the Czech economy needs.
Kovanda supports his statement about people's hight savings saying some 20 percent of Czech households have no savings at all while on the other hand, the average per capita bank deposit, including babies, has increased from 138,000 crowns at the beginning of the financial crisis to 190,000 crowns now.

Until recently privacy in matters of religious faith or sexual relations did not exist even in the West, but now privacy in the sphere of nourishment norms (bans on sweet or fat drinks and meals) or smoking ceases to exist, Zbynek Petracek writes elsewhere in Lidove noviny (LN).
Privacy starts to dissapear at open space-type workplaces, but it is becoming bigger and bigger in inter-personal relations, he writes.
Never in history have there been so many lonely seniors and those who are fashionably called singles living in the heart of an advanced society, Petracek writes.

The speech President Milos Zeman made on December 26 was generally criticised for lacking vision, but if he did offer a vision to the people, he would be torn apart for wishing to dictate to people their future, driven by his lust for the instalment of the presidential system, Jan Keller writes in Pravo.
Throughout the 1990s, people could hear beautiful visions in New Year's Day speeches [delivered by then president Vaclav Havel], Keller writes.
Meanwhile, the economy was sold out and the family silver was bargained away, Keller writes.
He writes that analysts should first study which of all the visions aimed to lull people has been fulfilled and map out what bad things have appeared in society without anyone mentioning them in visions painted on festive days.
Zeman is an economic forecaster by training. Who else than he should know why he preferred to avoid talking about any visions in his Christmas speech?, Keller writes.
($1=19.865 crowns)
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Installation of first bitcoin ATM in Slovakia meets with success
Bratislava, Dec 27 (CTK) - The installation of the first ATM machine dispensing digital currency bitcoin in the Slovak capital of Bratislava about one month ago has met with great interest among Slovaks, although the possibility to pay with the currency is still very limited
in the country.

The machine, located in the centre of Bratislava, has already performed over 200 transactions since it has been installed.
Slovak businessman Marian Jancuska who had installed the machine said that he had reckoned with a lower volume of transactions and that he was surprised by the demand for bitcoin.
The Slovak capital is one of the first 15 localities in the world where a bitcoin ATM has been installed and launched into operation.
"I want to promote bitcoin. It is my major interest, bigger than the profit from transactions," Jancuska told CTK.
Jancuska, who runs an IT consultancy business, has invested $5,000 (more than Kc100,000) in the purchase of the machine.
The ATM does not differ much from a digital parking machine. It communicates with users in Slovak and through the so-called QR codes that can be scanned with a smartphone, for example.
The system converts inserted euro banknotes into bitcoins and transfers the relevant amount to the buyer's digital account.
The machine uses the latest bitcoin exchange rate. Its owner charges a fee amounting to 1 percent of the value of a transaction.
Jancuska is considering installation of another bitcoin ATM in Kosice, eastern Slovakia, in spring next year.
However, there are only few places where people can spend bitcoins in Slovakia.
The virtual currency is accepted by fast food chain Subway in Bratislava, by a clothing producer and by a company offering Internet services, for example.
Jancuska said the spreading of bitcoins among people should help convince companies to accept this currency.
"The bitcoin is a people's currency. I have become convinced that it is a breakthrough thing from which the broad public will benefit," Jancuska noted.
Bitcoins should, among other things, prevent repetition of cases when people lost a large part of their savings during currency reforms in the past, he said.
Bitcoin's exchange rate has been showing big swings. The value of the virtual currency fell sharply in the middle of December when China's main exchange for bitcoin trading announced it was no longer accepting deposits in the Chinese yuan.
Consumers have been warned against the use of unregulated virtual currencies by the European Banking Authority (EBA).
But Jancuska also said there are risks to bitcoin use.
"People should know that bitcoin is not regulated and that nobody provides a guarantee for deposits. The currency offers a great deal of freedom, but its users must be watchful," Jancuska said.
Bitcoin was created by an anonymous developer nicknamed Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009.
The currency is designed in such a way so as nobody - neither governments nor central banks - can have any influence over it.
CTK

 

 

 

 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.



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This news digest is selected and edited by the Czech Events Network


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 28 (CTK) - The Czech economy would be best helped by an easing and stabilisation of the overall economic and business environment rather than by a currency easing in the form of the central bank's intervention, Lukas Kovanda writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today.

He writes, however, that the Czechs can do nothing about a number of regulations because they take their origin in Brussels, not in Prague.
Kovanda writes that a number of Czechs have quite big savings and if they had a more certainties as for the economic environment, they would invest more, employ more people, spend more money and consume more goods, which si precisely what the Czech economy needs.
Kovanda supports his statement about people's hight savings saying some 20 percent of Czech households have no savings at all while on the other hand, the average per capita bank deposit, including babies, has increased from 138,000 crowns at the beginning of the financial crisis to 190,000 crowns now.

Until recently privacy in matters of religious faith or sexual relations did not exist even in the West, but now privacy in the sphere of nourishment norms (bans on sweet or fat drinks and meals) or smoking ceases to exist, Zbynek Petracek writes elsewhere in Lidove noviny (LN).
Privacy starts to dissapear at open space-type workplaces, but it is becoming bigger and bigger in inter-personal relations, he writes.
Never in history have there been so many lonely seniors and those who are fashionably called singles living in the heart of an advanced society, Petracek writes.

The speech President Milos Zeman made on December 26 was generally criticised for lacking vision, but if he did offer a vision to the people, he would be torn apart for wishing to dictate to people their future, driven by his lust for the instalment of the presidential system, Jan Keller writes in Pravo.
Throughout the 1990s, people could hear beautiful visions in New Year's Day speeches [delivered by then president Vaclav Havel], Keller writes.
Meanwhile, the economy was sold out and the family silver was bargained away, Keller writes.
He writes that analysts should first study which of all the visions aimed to lull people has been fulfilled and map out what bad things have appeared in society without anyone mentioning them in visions painted on festive days.
Zeman is an economic forecaster by training. Who else than he should know why he preferred to avoid talking about any visions in his Christmas speech?, Keller writes.
($1=19.865 crowns)
CTK

Czech state spends 10 percent of GDP on pensions
Prague, Dec 27 (CTK) - The Czech Republic spends 10 percent of GDP on pensions now and the share has been steadily rising while the proportion of the a monthly pension to the monthly wage has been decreasing, statistical figures released by the Labour and Social Affairs ministry have shown.

The state spending on pensions rose from 6.7 percent of GDP in 1993 to 9.6 percent in 2011 and 9.9 percent last year, the ministry said.
Eurostat data show that the Czech share of GDP spent on pensions stands below the EU average, which was 12.5 percent in 2009. Out of all EU states, the share was lower only in Estonia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Latvia, Cyprus and Ireland.
The average monthly pension made up 42 and 54 percent of the average gross and net monthly wage last year, respectively.
The Czech society has been ageing and the number of old people rising. Brand-new pensioners are entitled to higher pensions in view of their previous higher wages.
Moreover, pensions have been regularly indexed.
While the spending is on the rise, the proportion of the pension to the gross and net wage has been declining, from 47 and 60.1 percent, respectively, in 1993, to 41.6 and 53.1 percent, respectively, in 2012.
The proportion was identical in 2009, but it was the most unfavourable in 2008 when a monthly pension made up 40.2 percent of the gross monthly wage.
Under the International Labour Organisation (ILO) rules, pensions should not drop below 40 percent of the average gross wage.
The proportion of the average pension to net wage was the most favourable in 1993 and in 1998, when it reached 60.1 and 59 percent, respectively.
The situation was the worst in 2006 when the monthly pension made up 52.7 percent of the net wage.
In 2012, the average monthly pension stood at 10,770 crowns, compared with the average gross wage of 25,903 crowns and the average net wage of 19,903 crowns.
In 1993, the average pension was 1496 crowns, and the gross and the net wage stood at 3095 and 2451 crowns, respectively.
Czech pensions have been regularly indexed. The former right-wing cabinet of Petr Necas (2010-June 2013) slowed down the indexation within a series of austerity steps.
In January 2013, the fixed part of the pension, for which all pensioners are eligible, was raised by 40 crowns to 2270 crowns, and the flexible part, depending on the pensioner's previous wage and years spent at work, was raised by 1.6 percent.
As from January 2014, the fixed part will increase by 10 crowns and the flexible part by 0.4 percent, which means an average increase of 45 crowns.
The indexation is derived from the growth of the real wage, which has declined in the Czech Republic recently.
In the 10.5-million Czech Republic, the Social Security Administration (CSSZ) paid out a total of 1.72 million of old-age pensions as from end-September 2013, and a total of 2.85 million of all types of pensions, including the old-age, disability, widow's, widower's and orphan's ones.
($1=20.121 crowns)
CTK
 

More foreigners treated in Czech assisted reproduction centres
Prague, Dec 27 (CTK) - The number of foreign clients of Czech assisted reproduction centres has doubled from 14.5 to 30.2 percent in the past five years, which statisticians ascribe to the quality of care as well as lower prices, and also legislation in the clients' countries.

A crushing majority of the egg donors are Czech women, foreigners are usually the recipients.
The number of curative cycles grew up by 11 percent in five years to more than 27,000 in 2012. The number of cycles aimed to cure infertility is about the same and it totals some 12,000 a year, but the number of cycles of egg donating and receiving is increasing.
The share of women aged 40 and more has increased from 10.7 to 21.7 percent in five years. The number of women under 34 still constitutes more than a half of the clients, however.
Assisted reproduction is legal for women aged 18 to 49 in the Czech Republic. Health insurance companies pay fertility treatment until the age of 39, after which women have to pay for it themselves.
One cycle costs 60,000 to 70,000 crowns. If only one embryo is transferred in the first two cycles, the health insurers pay three cycles and contribute to the fourth one.
The Czech Republic is among the countries with an above-average number of cycles per 1000 women in productive age.
In terms of age, the Czech Republic is one of the countries where women under 34 predominate in the treatment.
Some 3000 out of about 100,000 babies born annually in the Czech Republic are delivered of thanks to assisted reproduction.
The country had 39 assisted reproduction centres in 2012.
CTK
 

Czech CSSD head to first convey govt nominees to party, president
Prague, Dec 27 (CTK) - Probable new PM Bohuslav Sobotka will first announce the candidates of the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD), of which he is chairman, to the party's leadership and to President Milos Zeman, he wrote to CTK today.

Both is to happen after New Year. The CSSD board might meet on January 6, when representatives of the emerging government coalition of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) are to sign the coalition agreement.
Zeman said previously he wants to meet Sobotka and the ANO and KDU-CSL chairmen, Andrej Babis and Pavel Belobradek, respectively, and make sure that the government will have the Chamber of Deputies' support.
The CSSD has not yet officially spoken about the names of possible future ministers.
It is speculated, however, that two CSSD deputy chairmen, Milan Chovanec and Lubomir Zaoralek, could become interior and foreign affairs ministers, respectively.
The posts of the ministers of industry and trade, of education and of health care could be filled by the shadow ministers of the respective sectors, Jan Mladek, Marcel Chladek and Svatopluk Nemecek.
The filling of the post of labour and social affairs minister is still unclear. The shadow minister, Roman Sklenak, now heads the CSSD deputy group.
The name of Vladimir Spidla, former prime minister and former EU commissioner for employment and social affairs, is also mentioned in this connection.
The post of minister without portfolio for legislation, human rights and equal opportunities that the CSSD is also to control, could be held by senator Jiri Dienstbier who is shadow justice minister.
Michaela Marksova-Tominova, spokeswoman for human rights and the family in the party's shadow government, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for the post.
The KDU-CSL has already announced its candidates. Party deputy chairman Marian Jurecka is to be agriculture minister, lawmaker Daniel Herman is to go to the Culture Ministry and Belobradek is to become minister without portfolio for science and innovations.
ANO has not yet chosen its candidate for defence minister. Lawmaker Martin Kolovratnik is mentioned in this connection.
Babis proposes Martin Stropnicky for defence minister, former deputy local development minister Vera Jourova for the head of the ministry, lawmaker Richard Brabec for environment minister, and lawmaker Helena Valkova is to be justice minister.
Babis himself is to be finance minister and deputy prime minister for the economy.
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Two Slovaks among three victims of attack on soldiers in Kabul
Kabul/Bratislava, Dec 27 (CTK) - Two Slovak and one U.S. soldier died in a suicide attack on a convoy of international forces on the eastern outskirts of Kabul today, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Slovak Foreign and Defence Ministries have announced.

The Islamist Taliban movement has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Slovak Defence Ministry wrote on its Internet page that the victims include two Slovak soldiers.
"We can confirm that two members of the Slovak military forces were killed in the attack on a convoy today. The soldiers were members of the 5th special task regiment based in Zilina, central Slovakia," the ministry wrote.
Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak wrote on the ministry's website that a U.S. soldier died in the attack along with two Slovaks.
The attack on the convoy of international forces occurred at about 13:00 local time one kilometre away from the NATO base Camp Phoenix where U.S. soldiers operate.
Six civilians were injured in the explosion of a bomb triggered by the attacker in a car, said the Kabul police spokesman, cited by the AP news agency.
Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack via its spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, who wrote on his Twitter account that a number of foreign soldiers died or were wounded and many vehicles were destroyed in the attack waged by a Taliban fighter.
News agencies say Taliban usually exaggerates the information on its attacks' destructive impact.
CTK

 

 

 

 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.



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This news digest is selected and edited by the Czech Events Network


Friday, December 27,2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 27 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman's Christmas message can be unfortunately placed among the speeches that perhaps should not have been delivered at all, Jiri Hanak writes in Pravo.

All he did was presenting a list of the fulfilled promises he made when he was elected, Hanak writes.
However, hoisting the EU flag at Prague Castle, the seat of Czech heads of state, was nothing but a technicality and it did not change the Czech Republic's awkward relation with the EU in the least, he adds.
Giving one-third of the presidential salary to repay the state debt is almost childish, Hanak writes.
Zeman's words that he will try to unite rather than divide society are close to tasteless joking, he adds.
The same can be said about the praise for the caretaker government. In fact, after the election, this government, full of experts, was given a much smaller trust from the general public than that enjoyed by the hated government of Prime Minister Petr Necas, Hanak writes.

This was not a speech by the president who offers the look at the general state and prospects of the country he heads, Jiri Pehe writes in Pravo.
The public did not learn anything about the way the president perceives the current, certainly bad social situation, Pehe writes.
Not a single word was uttered about the government that Czechs will soon have.
The speech differed from Zeman's other major speeches only by lacking any content even more, he adds.

Zeman's message about the fulfilment of his own promises could have been delivered at any time and its link with Christmas was devoid of any sense, Petr Fischer writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN).
Zeman does not know who he is. He wants to be the president, but he behaves like a prime minister, Fischer writes.
He wants to observe traditions, but he brutally destroys them, he adds.
He wants to be himself, but being in love with himself, he plays the presidential role, Fischer writes.
Zeman's public performances will look embarrassing unless he resolves his own "confusion of the roles," he adds.

Zeman has revived a tradition by praising himself, while not saying anything that matters, Karel Steigerwald writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD).
Zeman chose an interesting content of his speech. He set aside any national, political and international issues, focusing on himself, Steigerwald writes.
The vagueness of the speech is not minus, but a plus. No argument, no objections, no criticism can arise, he adds ironically.
The public learnt nothing about the political or economic crisis, let alone the spiritual crisis. As a result, there is no reason for criticism, Steigerwald writes.
Optimists can understand Zeman's speech also as a great promise and obligation: next year he will stop smoking, only chewing tobacco, Steigerwald writes, alluding to Zeman's mention that he failed to stop smoking.
What a great task. The next speech may focus on the fascinating theme on how he stopped chewing, Steigerwald writes sarcastically.
CTK

No vision - Czech politicians on Zeman's speech
Prague, Dec 26 (CTK) - President Milos Zeman's Christmas speech in which he said he had fulfilled the promises he gave upon taking up office lacked vision, some Czech politicians said in reaction to it today.

"It was a very personal, solemn and accommodating speech. But perhaps I am not the only one who lacked at least a sign of a look into future," Social Democrat (CSSD) leader and probable next prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka told CTK.
"I consider it understandable that Zeman used the Christmas speech to evaluate his first year in the post and the fulfilment of some of his pre-election obligations and to explain again his steps leading to the appointment of the Jiri Rusnok caretaker government," Sobotka said.
Zeman told the general public in his Christmas speech that he made good five promises he gave to it during his presidential campaign.
Zeman thanked Jiri Rusnok's caretaker government and wished Czechs good health and a life filled with useful acts.
"It was an evaluating Christmas speech without any conflict that was right in the Christmas atmosphere," Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) leader Pavel Belobradek said.
Social Democrat Jan Hamacek, chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, said he felt rather embarrassed at the speech.
He said Zeman had explained the change in the day when the speech was delivered by his effort to follow up the tradition of interwar Czechoslovakia when presidents were delivering Christmas messages.
"Nevertheless, the content of the speech itself was no Christmas message, but rather a report on the execution of the presidential office. I have to say that with its content, the speech was not in harmony with Christmas time," Hamacek said.
Social Democrat Milan Stech, head of the Senate, said he had a better impression.
"I have no critical comments. Nevertheless, I can imagine a different type of speech in which he would comment on the past social and political problems and voice a certain vision of the future," Stech said.
Rusnok said Zeman's taking a stock of his work reflected all the steps Zeman had promised.
"I expected a promise and vision of the future. I am sorry that this was not said," Communist (KSCM) leader Vojtech Filip said.
Media experts Jan Jirak and Daniel Koeppl were rather critical of the speech.
They said Zeman had looked self-centred.
"It was exceptionally self-centred, perhaps even narcissistic," Koeppl said.
He said a speech in the style "look at how good I am" chosen by Zeman was out-fashioned.
Jirak said even during his speech, Zeman was a political figure engaged in a dialogue with his opponents.
Jirak said he comprehended Zeman's effort to return to the tradition from the era of first Czechoslovak President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk (1918-1935), but he was not sure whether this was a fortunate idea.
January 1, on which previous presidents delivered their New Year speeches, is the day celebrating the Czech Republic's establishment.
"This was now fully abandoned and this is a pity," Jirak said.
CTK

President Zeman says he fulfilled promises in Christmas speech
Prague, Dec 26 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman told the general public in his Christmas speech today that he fulfilled five promises he gave to it during his presidential campaign.

Zeman thanked Jiri Rusnok's caretaker government and wished Czechs good health and a life filled with useful acts.
With the timing of his Christmas speech, Zeman wanted to follow up the tradition of interwar Czechoslovakia when Christmas speeches were delivered by President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk (1918-1935).
"Until 1948, the speeches had the character of Christmas messages. The first New Year speech was made by Communist President Klement Gottwald on January 1, 1949," Zeman said.
Zeman said another reason for the change was the fact that at New Year people often make resolutions they eventually fail to fill.
"I have repeatedly made the resolution that I will stop smoking. Unfortunately, I have never fulfilled this," said Zeman, reputedly a chain smoker.
Zeman said at the end of the year, the president should take a stock of his work.
He focused on the five promises he had given to the public during his presidential campaign and shortly after it.
Zeman promised that unlike his predecessors, he would not declare any amnesty or grant pardons.
"Thanks to this, it cannot happen that a pardon would be granted to a man who killed his father, to a popular cycling champion who killed three innocent people in a traffic accident and to a tax fraudster who was granted a pardon for health reasons and then he miraculously recovered," Zeman said in a not very veiled reference to the pardons granted by his predecessors, Vaclav Klaus and Vaclav Havel.
Zeman also vowed to improve the Czech Republic's relations with the EU.
He said he had primarily tried to improve the conditions for the drawing of EU subsidies.
"Like in the seats of most European heads of state, at Prague Castle, too, now the flag of the EU of which we are a member is hoisted," Zeman said.
Zeman said when taking up office, he pledged to stabilise the Constitutional Court that was on the verge of collapse.
"The Constitutional Court now works in its full composition and it works well," Zeman said.
Zeman said he was giving one-third of his presidential salary to repay the state debt.
He said in the past weeks, he was being joined by individuals and companies.
"I wish the fund became an analogy to the collection to support and help the country, although I know that the reduction of debt is primarily a task of the government and its economic policy," Zeman said.
Zeman unveiled the fund for the repayment of the Czech state debt in June.
He will be sending 60,000 crowns a month to it every month until March 2018.
He wants to make high-income people take part in the repayment of the state debt.
According to Zeman's web page, there were 715,000 crowns at the fund's account on December 15.
The state debt amounted to 1678 billion crowns at the end of June.
Zeman said it was the most complicated affair to fulfil his last promise of trying to unify rather than divide society.
He said the society had been divided over the followers and opponents of Prime Minister Petr Necas's government, while it was opposed by 80 percent of the population.
He said by naming the Jiri Rusnok caretaker government he had provoked an early election.
He thanked members of the Rusnok government for understanding well their offices and for drafting the 2014 budget bill.
Along with health, Zeman wished a life filled with useful acts to people.
"Only such a life can bring happiness and joy," Zeman said at the close of his speech.
($1 = 20.121 crowns)
CTK

Czechs are optimists on personal level, sceptics in politics
Brno, Dec 27 (CTK) - Czechs are optimistic about the year 2014 on personal level, but they are pessimistic about the development of the economy, national politics and social affairs, according to the first results of the Hope 2014 international survey, Tereza Fojtova has told CTK.

The Czech Republic took part in the survey for the first time through the Psychological Institute of the Faculty of Arts of the Brno-based Masaryk University, of which Fojtova is a spokeswoman.
More than 1400 people, with women predominating, aged 15-75 participated in the online questionnaire survey.
The survey also revealad the importance people attach to inter-personal relations. Their biggest wish is a happy partnership, marriage and the family.
Many people long for good health and harmony in life. Good and close relations with other people placed fourth in the survey.
The wish to have more money or to be successful at work placed at the opposite end of the ladder.
The differences between men and women are not too big in terms of wishes and expectations, which does not apply in terms of age.
The most optimistic on the personal level are young people aged 18-29 while the fewest optimists are in the over-60 category.
People aged 30-39 are the most pessimistic about national politics.
CTK

Czech authorities ban export of some drugs - press
Prague, Dec 27 (CTK) - Czech Health Minister Martin Holcat banned the exportation of Actilyse, a drug dissolving blood clots in patients afflicted by heart attack and stroke due to its shortage in hospitals, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes today, adding that it was the second such a ban over the past eight weeks.

Holcat is preparing some more resolute measures, LN writes.
"We have earmarked about ten medicaments whose exportation we may preclude, too," Holcat is quoted as saying.
According to the latest data from the State Institute for Drug Control (SUKL), as much as 90 percent of some drugs are exported, causing a shortage in Czech health facilities.
LN cites the example of Quetiapin bluefish antipsychotic. Only some 1300 daily doses of Quetiapin have remained in Czech pharmacies, while the remaining 25,000 were exported.
As far as Montelukast for the treatment of asthma and Sulperazon antibiotic are concerned, 96 percent and 73.5 percent of them, respectively, were exported.
Moreover, four-fifths of Anaprex breast cancer drug have disappeared abroad, LN writes.
"The situation is serious. Every month, drugs worth over half a billion crowns are exported from the Czech Republic," Lubomir Chudoba, head of the Czech Pharmacists' Chamber, is quoted as saying.
"Some of them are being seriously lacked," he added.
However, no one is ready to reprieve the situation, LN writes.
"The re-exportation of drugs is quite legal and an established trade branch. The existing legislation is quite sufficient," Deputy Health Minister Ferdinand Polak recently said.
"No, we do not suggest any toughening of the rules," Polak said.
He said the claim that due to the exportations Czech patients suffer may be exaggerated.
"There may be a number of causes due to which a drug may not be accessible. It is rather difficult to prove that re-exportation is to blame," Polak said.
"We had it coming. In wanting the lowest prices, we are encouraging the re-exportation," Emil Zoerner, head of the Czech Association of Pharmaceutical Companies, is quoted as saying.
"If our prices were more reasonable, the drugs would not be re-exported," he added.
Zoerner said the problem of exportation of drugs was faced by other European countries that had managed to push the prices of pills below the average such as Spain and Portugal.
"However, in these countries no one has thought of suppressing re-exportation," he added.
($1 = 20.121 crowns)
CTK


 

 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.



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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Seven Czechs hospitalised over carbon monoxide poisoning
Prague, Dec 25 (CTK) - Seven out of the eight people from Prague who were poisoned with carbon monoxide were hospitalised, police, emergency service and fire brigade spokespeople told CTK today.

The poisoning was serious for most of them.
The gas probably leaked from a geyser in which it can appear as a product of combustion.
The high concentration of gas occurred in the bathroom of a house.
"There were eight people, including two children, in the house," Prague fire brigade spokeswoman Pavlina Adamcova told CTK.
The poisoning of two children and two adult people, including a pregnant woman, was so serious that they had to be placed in a barochamber, a device used to cure the people who inhale too much gas and smoke.
The police were also on the scene of the poisoning.
Two police officers breathed in some gas, but they quickly recovered thanks to oxygen bottles, police spokesman Tomas Hulan said.
CTK

Czech NGOs to be subjected to quality scrutiny
Prague, Dec 25 (CTK) - A quality trademark for Czech NGOs is to help the people who want to donate money on charity and do not know which one to choose, Marek Sedivy, president of the Association of Public Benefit Organizations (AVPO), told CTK today.

The trademark is to be given to the reliable groups that are able to manage well the entrusted means, Sedivy said, adding that the AVPO was preparing the trademark that will be bestowed as of 2015.
"Thousands of public benefit organisations work in the Czech Republic. People are often afraid that the money they want to donate might not be used rightly and efficiently," Sedivy said.
"Thanks to the assessment of reliability, they will be able to find out online what organisations have gained the reliability trademark and use the financial gifts purposefully," Sedivy said.
Established three years ago, the AVPO is an umbrella organisation associating 80 groups. It was inspired abroad where similar trademarks are given.
It collaborates with the International Committee on Fundraising Organizations that assesses the financial management of NGOs.
The Czech trademark is to prove that an organisation really fulfils its mission, having transparent management, gaining of money and its administration and providing enough information about itself.
The assessment is to be conducted by an independent team composed of businesspeople, academics, senior civil servants and journalists.
"We are yet to iron out the methodology. We expect the first NGOs to gain the reliability trademark in 2015," Sedivy said.
CTK

New Czech Civil Code may cause problems
Prague, Dec 25 (CTK) - Czech judges will not be able to use established judicature to which they were used for decades due to the new Civil Code that will take effect in January, president of the Judges' Union Tomas Lichovnik told CTK today.

In some cases, it will be possible to use prewar decided cases when taking into account new conditions, Lichovnik said.
The Civil Code, an extensive piece of legislation with over 3000 articles, sets new rules in three basic areas - the family, property and contracts.
It was passed by the previous right-wing government in 2012.
Lichovnik said the unification of legal interpretation on the national level would only be able after several years, similarly to the case of return of property after the fall of the Communist regime.
The new Civil Code includes a number of new legal institutes and regulates the existing ones in a different way.
"The interpretation of the Civil Code will at first appear among individual judges of district courts in particular," Lichovnik said.
"Based on appeals, the interpretation will be subjected to the review, primarily by judges of regional courts," he added.
"However, here, too, one cannot expect any unification of judicature," Lichovnik said.
The unification on the national level can only be proceed thanks to the decisions of the Supreme Court. However, it only reviews the recourses lodged against the verdicts of courts of appeals, he added.
When unifying the interpretation, the position can only arise from several decisions of appeals courts, Lichovnik said.
As a result, the process will take a number of years, he added.
"Hence the comparison with the decisions on return of property. The courts were deciding in the early 1990s," Lichovnik said.
"The original, not quite clear legal regulation was increasingly complicated due to the increased number of amendments. It was only possible to speak about established judicature in restitution affairs at the close of the 1990s," he added.
Lichovnik said some judges were considering retiring due to the new regulation of private law.
"Some of them will only think of it, but I presume that a number of judges will really end as active judges," he added.
"No one knows the exact figures, but the number of judges at retirement age reaches tens of percent in some courts," Lichovnik said.
He said if most of the judges at the retirement age really decided to leave the judiciary, it would weaken the courts so considerably that it would be impossible to reprieve the situation soon.
CTK

ECONOMY

Selection of main economic events expected in CR in 2014
Prague, Dec 15 (CTK) - The following is a selection of the main economic events expected in the Czech Republic in 2014:

JANUARY
1 - Prices of electricity for households are to fall by 10.9 percent on average. Regulated part of gas prices is to go down by 5.19 percent on average.
- Czech importers start paying full customs duty on imports of goods from countries excluded from list of developing and least developed countries.
- Amendment to law on lotteries takes effect. Part of revenues from lotteries is to go directly to Czech Olympic Committee.
- Law raising limit for small public tenders for construction work from Kc3m to Kc6m takes effect. Limit for tenders for services rises from Kc1m to Kc2m.
- Odin Goedhart of Netherlands becomes new CEO of beer group Heineken CR.
- Dale Ekmark of USA becomes head of miner OKD.
- Sabina Slonkova becomes Mlada fronta Dnes editor-in-chief.
6 - Czech Statistical Office (CSU) releases foreign trade results for November 2013.
7 - Czech National Bank (CNB) releases forex reserves as of December 31 and CNB's forex deals balance as of November 30, 2013.
9 - Labour and Social Affairs Ministry releases unemployment data for December 2013.
- CSU releases consumer price indices - inflation for December 2013 and results of industry and construction for November 2013.
13 - CNB releases its balance as of December 31, 2013.
16 - International tourism trade fairs Go and Regiontour start in Brno, both to last till January 19.
30 - CSU releases results of agriculture for Q4 2013.

FEBRUARY
3 - CSU releases employment/unemployment data for Q4 2013.
6 - CSU releases data on foreign trade, industry and construction for December 2013.
- CNB releases monetary statistics as of December 31, 2013.
7 - CSU releases results of tourism and services for Q4 2013. - CNB releases data on its forex reserves as of January 31, 2013 and forex deals balance as of December 31, 2013.
10 - Labour and Social Affairs Ministry discloses data on unemployment for January 2014.
12 - CSU releases consumer price indices - inflation for January 2014.
- Komercni banka releases its business results for 2013.
14 - CSU releases preliminary GDP estimate for Q4 2013.
- CNB releases statistics of collective investment funds as of December 31, 2013.
- Trade fair of eye optics, optometry and ophthalmology Opta starts in Brno to last till February 16.
- Slovak Statistical Office releases estimate of GDP development in Q4 2013.
16 - International footwear and leather goods trade fair Kabo and fashion trade fair Styl start in Brno, to last till February 18.
20 - International gastronomy trade fair Top Gastro & Hotel starts in Prague, to last till February 23.
25 - International trade fair for trade, hotels and catering Inteco, trade fair of millers, bakers and confectioners MBK, food trade fair Salima, wine trade fair Vinex, packaging trade fair Embax and printing technology trade fair Printexpo start in Brno. All events to last till February 28.

MARCH
1 - Announcement of results of annual poll for the most absurd banking fee.
5 - Final report on Slovak GDP developmnet in Q4 2013.
- Start of Prodite (For Child) trade fair of products for children, motorcycle trade fair Motosalon and fishing exhibition Rybareni (Fishing) in Brno. All events to last till March 9.
7 - CNB releases its balance for Q4 2013.
10 - CSU releases consumer price indices - inflation for February 2014 and foreign trade results for January 2014.
- Labour and Social Affairs Ministry releases unemployment data for February 2014.
11 - CSU releases data on average wages in Q1 2013.
13 - Housing design trade fair Pragointerier starts in Prague, to last till March 16.
14 - CSU releases results of industry and construction for January 2014.
- Trade fair World of Beauty & Spa 2014 Spring starts in Prague, to last till March 15.
18 - International trade fair of electronics, automatisation and communication Amper starts in Brno, to last till March 21.
20 - Start of housing, construction and reconstruction trade fair For Habitat, garden architecture trade fair For Garden, furniture and housing design trade fair For Furniture and office furniture trade fair For Office in Prague, to last till March 23.
28 - CNB releases CR's investment positions towards abroad and external debts as of December 31, 2013.
- Start of cycling festival For Bikes, mobile homes and caravan exhibition For Caravan and sports equipment trade fair Sport Show in Prague. All events to last till March 30.
30 - Veterinary trade fair Animal Vetex, Biomasa trade fair of renewable sources of energy, international forestry and gamekeeping fair Silva Regina and international agricultural trade fair Techagro start in Brno, all to last till April 3.

APRIL
7 - CSU publishes data on foreign trade, industry and construction for February 2014.
8 - Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs releases unemployment data for March 2014.
9 - CSU to publish consumer price indices - inflation for March 2014.
11- Biostyl, fair of healthy nutrition, ecology and healthy lifestyle, and Esoterika, fair of alternative lifestyle, open in Prague. Events last until April 13.
- Tourism trade fair starts in Ceske Budejovice. Event lasts until April 13.
15 - For Industry, fair of engineering technology, and For Logistic, fair of transportation, logistics and warehousing, begin in Prague. Events last until April 17.
23 - Drevo a stavby exhibition of wood and wooden structures, IBF construction trade fair, trade fair of investment opportunities in regions Urbis Invest, trade fair of local technology and services Urbis Technologie and trade fair of environmental creation and protection technology EnviBrno start in Brno. Events last until April 26.
24 - Petrochemical group Unipetrol releases business results for Q1 2014.
- Spring international gardening exhibition and trade fair Flora Olomouc begins. Event lasts until April 27.
30 - CSU makes public data on agriculture for first quarter of 2014.

MAY
5 - CSU to publish employment and unemployment data for Q1 2014 based on labour force survey.
6 - CSU to publish foreign trade data for March 2014.
7 - CSU to publish construction and industry data for March 2014.
9 - CSU to release data on services and tourism for first quarter of 2014.
12 - CSU to release consumer price indices - inflation for April 2014.
- Labour and Social Affairs Ministry to make public unemployment data for April 2014.
15 - CSU to publish preliminary GDP estimate for first quarter of 2014.
- Car show Autosalon Brno starts in Brno. Event lasts until May 19.
30 - Sport fest - trade fair of sports equipment and healthy lifestyle begins in Ceske Budejovice. Event lasts until June 1.

JUNE
5 - CSU to publish average wage data for first three months of 2014.
6 - CSU to publish data on foreign trade, industry and construction for April 2014.
9 - CSU to publish consumer price indices - inflation for May 2014.
- Labour and Social Affairs Ministry to publish data on unemployment for May 2014.

JULY
7 - CSU to release data on foreign trade, construction and industry for May 2014.
8 - Labour and Social Affairs Ministry to make public data on unemployment for June 2014.
9 - CSU to release consumer price indices - inflation for June 2014.
22 - Petrochemical group Unipetrol makes public financial results for second quarter and January-June period of 2014.

AUGUST
4 - CSU to release data on employment and unemployment for Q2 2014 based on labour force survey.
6 - CSU to publish data on foreign trade, industry and construction for June 2014.
7 - CSU to make public data on services and tourism for Q2 2014.
8 - Labour and Social Affairs Ministry to publish unemployment data for July 2014.
11 - CSU makes public consumer price indices - inflation for July 2014.
14 - CSU releases preliminary GDP estimate for Q2 2014.
- Summer flowers exhibition Flora Olomouc begins in Olomouc. Event lasts until August 17.
24 - Footwear and leather goods trade fair Kabo and fashion trade fair Styl start in Brno. Events last until August 26.
28 - International agricultural exhibition Zeme zivitelka starts in Ceske Budejovice. Event lasts until September 2.

SEPTEMBER
4 - Sberatel, trade fair of postage stamps, coins, telephone cards, minerals and collecting starts in Prague. Event lasts until September 6.
5 - CSU to publish data on average wages for second quarter of 2014.
- Trade fair of cosmetics, hairdressing and healthy lifestyle World of Beauty & Spa starts in Prague. Event lasts until September 6.
8 - CSU to make public data on foreign trade, construction and industry for July 2014.
- Employment Office to make public unemployment data for August 2014.
9 - CSU to release consumer price indices - inflation for August 2014.
16 - Trade fairs For Arch (construction), For Wood (wooden structures), For Elektron (electrical engineering, energy), Bazeny, sauny & Spa (pools, saunas), For Waste & Water (recycling, waste disposal, environment), For Therm (heating and alternative sources of energy) start in Brno and last until September 20.
25 - Trade fairs For Decor & Present (decoration, home accessories) and For Interior (furniture, design) start in Prague and last until September 28.
29 - Trade fairs Fond-Ex (foundry), IMT (machine tools, forming machines), MSV (engineering), Welding, Profintech (surface treatment technology) and Plastex (plastics, rubber and composites) start in Brno. Events last until October 3.

OCTOBER
2 - Autumn exhibition of fruit, vegetables and arboriculture Flora Olomouc starts in Olomouc. Event lasts until October 5.
7 - CSU makes public data on foreign trade, industry and construction for August 2014.
8 - Employment Office publishes data on unemployment for September 2014.
9 - CSU publishes consumer price indices - inflation for September 2014.
- Trade fair of photographic equipment and accessories For Camera and trade fair of musical instruments, sound, lighting and stage technologies For Music & Show begin in Prague. Events last until October 11.
- Dental trade fair Pragodent starts in Prague. Event lasts until October 11.
22 - Petrochemical group Unipetrol publishes economic results for Q3 2014.
23 - Trade fair of wood processing machinery, tools and equipment For Lignum begins in Prague. Event lasts until October 25.
30 - CSU publishes data on agriculture for Q3 2014.
- Contracting and selling exhibition of machinery, tools and equipment for wood processing industry Pragoligna starts in Prague. Event lasts until November 1.

NOVEMBER
3 - CSU to publish employment and unemployment data for Q3 2014 based on labour force survey.
6 - CSU to publish data on foreign trade, industry and construction for September 2014.
- Cycling trade fair Bike Brno and Caravaning Brno trade fair begin in Brno. Events last until November 9.
7 - CSU to release data on services and tourism industry for third quarter of 2014.
10 - CSU to release consumer price indices - inflation for October 2014.
- Employment Office to make public data on unemployment for October 2014.
14 - CSU to publish preliminary GDP estimate for Q3 2014.

DECEMBER
4 - CSU publishes data an average wages for Q3 2014.
8 - CSU publishes data on foreign trade, industry and construction for October 2014.
9 - CSU to publish consumer price indices - inflation for November 2014.

CTK

SLOVAKIA

Slovakia eyes Gripens within joint airspace protection plan-press
Prague, Dec 19 (CTK) - Slovakia, which plans to launch joint airspace protection together with the Czechs in the years to come, is negotiating with Sweden about the acquisition of Gripen fighters to make its air force compatible with Prague's, Czech daily Lidove noviny (LN) says today, citing a Stockholm source.

Negotiations have been conducted with Slovakia and they are in the initial phase now, LN quotes Sophia Karlberg, spokeswoman for Sweden's defence and security agency FXM that also mediates the lease of Gripens to Czechs, as saying.
Slovak pilots and their Czech counterparts might start operating a joint fighter squadron and jointly assist in foreign operations as from 2016, after less than a quarter century that has elapsed since the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the paper writes.
This year Bratislava promised to continue taking spare parts for its eight MiG-29 fighters from the Russian company RSK MiG until 2016. Afterwards, however, the space will open for the launch of a Slovak-Czech squadron, LN says.
Both countries consider the project desirable because it would enable them to save money. In addition, Slovakia would like to step out of the sphere of Russian influence in this area, the paper writes.
The project, with its legislative, technical and tactical parameters, has been on the agenda of the two defence ministers' talks for a long time, Czech Defence Minister Vlastimil Picek confirmed for LN.
A condition for joint airspace protection is that both the Czechs and Slovaks have the same type of aircraft. As the Czech Republic has preliminarily nodded to the extension of the lease of its 14 Swedish Gripens until 2029, the Slovak military will have to acquire Gripens as well, LN writes.
The Czech deal worth nearly 14 billion crowns is waiting for the approval of the new cabinet in the making, it says.
The Slovaks are expected to purchase or lease six Gripen fighters, the Czech Defence Ministry's senior official is quoted as saying.
Although Slovak Defence Ministry spokeswoman Martina Ballekova has denied any Slovak-Swedish negotiations, LN has found out that the opposite is true, the paper writes.
Negotiations have been conducted with Slovakia but they are in the initial phase now and no details can be disclosed, FXM's Sophia Karlberg said.
The pilots of the planned joint squadron will be trained in the Czech Republic. The Caslav airport, central Bohemia, will be the squadron's base. The other base would be in Sliac, central Slovakia, the paper writes.
Of the squadron's 20 fighters, two would be permanently designed for foreign missions similar to the maintenance of a no-fly zone over Libya in 2011, a Czech ministerial official told the paper.
If the acquisition of Gripens by Bratislava got delayed and Slovakia temporarily found itself without supersonic fighters, the Czech military reckons with protecting Slovakia's airspace for an interim period.
"It wouldn't be free of charge. According to rough estimates, we would charge about one million crowns for a flight hour in such an operation," the Czech official said.
($1=20.161 crowns)
CTK

 

 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.



alt

This news digest is selected and edited by the Czech Events Network


Wedesday,  December 25, 2013

Record warm weather in Czech Republic on Christmas Eve
Prague, Dec 24 (CTK) - Record high temperatures were registered at several sites in the Czech Republic today, according to data of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute released to CTK.

The absolutely highest temperatures were registered in north Moravia: 13.2 degrees centigrade in Bohumin-Zablati, where daily temperature has been monitored for 57 years, and 12.3 in Ostrava-Poruba, where temperature has been measured for 45 years. In both cases the record from 1973 was beaten (12.4 and 11.2 degrees centigrade, respectively).
Meteorologists say temperatures may even slightly rise.
Several temperature records were reported on Monday as well.
Besides, meteorologists warn of strong wind in the Zlin region, south Moravia, as well as the Olomouc and Moravian-Silesian regions, north Moravia.
The strongest wind is now in the Jeseniky and Beskydy Mountains, north Moravia, reaching up to 30 m/s or 108 km/h and it might be even stronger on the mountain ridge outside the stations.
Very high temperature for this time of the year was also measured in the Sumava mountains, situated in west and south Bohemia.
The Prague record high temperature on December 24, 1977 (12.9 degrees centigrade measured in Klementiunum in the city centre) was not beaten today.
CTK

Salvation Army prepares X-mas lunch for homeless in Brno
Brno, Dec 24 (CTK) - The Salvation Army prepared Christmas lunch for the homeless in its asylum centre in Brno, the second largest town in the Czech Republic, today, the centre's director Pavel Kosorin has told CTK.

Fish with potato salad and traditional Christmas sweets were served to a total of 170 homeless people.
"Tens of donors from a number of firms as well as individuals have helped us prepare the lunch. They have donated a lot of candies, fruit and 'vanocka' (a special Christmas leavened cake) that we have distributed among homeless people," Kosorin added.
This winter has not been very severe yet so most of the homeless in Brno stay in the street unharmed.
Some 2000 homeless people are estimated to live in Brno, a town with some 371,000 inhabitants
The Salvation Army's asylum centre is the largest facility for the homeless in south Moravia.
The centre also organises a Christmas fund-raising campaign.
The Salvation Army expects to collect over 300,000 crowns this way.
The money will be spent on warm clothes for the homeless and the operation of three asylum homes that the Salvation Army is funding in Brno.
($1=20.121 crowns)
CTK

Prague Mayor serves Christmas fish soup in city centre
Prague, Dec 24 (CTK) - Prague Mayor Tomas Hudecek (TOP 09) and his colleagues from the City Hall were traditionally serving fish soup, a typical Czech Christmas Eve dish, to Praguers and tourists on Old-Town Square in the city centre today.

A queue of some 200 people was waiting for the soup before the Town Hall clock struck 11:00 and Hudecek started distributing it.
Along with Hudecek, Prague 1 Mayor Oldrich Lomecky was serving fish soup on Wenceslas square today.
Besides, the Prague district prepared its own fish soup served on Kampa island in the Lesser Town.
"Since I was in the Prague Assembly I have come here every year. First I only ate the soup, then I helped serve it and today I am in charge of it," Hudecek told reporters.
He added that he considers the serving of the soup a good opportunity to wish Praguers merry Christmas.
Cooks prepared some 2000 portions of fish soup according to an old Czech recipe. The soup was based on a fish broth made of 300 kilos of carp and 50 kilos of fish heads, over 100 kilos of root vegetable as well as fish milt and eggs to which almost three litres of cognac and some caramel were added.
Fish soup is usually a part of the Christmas Eve's dinner in Czech households, along with fried carp and potato salad.
Last year and the year before another Prague mayor, Bohuslav Svoboda (Civic Democrats, ODS), was serving the soup.
He became mayor after the 2010 elections in Prague when the ODS and the Social Democrats (CSSD) started to govern in the capital, circumventing the election winner, TOP 09. However, the coalition disintegrated one year later and the ODS started to cooperate with TOP 09.
The ODS-TOP 09 coalition split in May 2012 and TOP 09 unseated Svoboda (ODS). It struck a cooperation agreement with the CSSD and Hudecek, 34, was elected becoming the youngest ever mayor of Prague.
CTK

Czech ex-priest and USTR ex-head Herman to head Culture Ministry
Prague, Dec 22 (CTK) - Brief profile of Daniel Herman, 50, former head of the Institute for the Studies of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR), who has been proposed for culture minister in the Czech government in the making
:

Date and place of birth: April 28, 1963, Ceske Budejovice, south Bohemia.Education: studied at the Faculty of Education in Ceske Budejovice (1982-83) and the Roman Catholic Theological Faculty (1984-89) in Litomerice, north Bohemia, ordained in June 1989, studied public relations in Germany and the United States in 1995-96.

Political career: joined Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) this May, elected to the Chamber of Deputies as leader of the Prague list of candidates of the party, elected deputy chairman of election committee in the Chamber of Deputies.
Practice: manual worker in bakery (1983-84), clergyman in the vicinity of Tabor, south Bohemia (1989-90), secretary of bishop in Ceske Budejovice (1990-91), head of the Prague Archbishop's office (1991-95), press service head and spokesman for the Czech Bishop's Conference/CBK (1996-2005), charged with heading CBK's office at the turn of 2004-05, helped policemen at the Police Presidium in Prague (2005-07), head of Culture Ministry's information office (2007-08), head of Prague's office of economist Jan Svejnar (2008-2010), director of the USTR (2010-2013).
Membership of organisations: until 2007 member (canon) of the Royal Chapter of SS Peter and Paul at Vysehrad in Prague; former member of the Ackermann-Gemeinde association leadership, member of the Council of the Czech-German Discussion Forum, member of the Central European Academy's administrative board seated in Bad Kissingen, Germany.

Other information:
- Herman caught the public attention after he was dismissed as head of the USTR by its academic council elected by the Senate in April. He was replaced with Pavla Foglova. Critics of the decision accused the Social Democrats and the council of an effort at destabilising and dominating the archives of Communist security forces before their future government along with Communists (KSCM) (the government cooperation of the CSSD and the KSCM was considered one of the alternatives to arise from the October early election). The Social Democrats dismissed the allegation and accused the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of politicising the affair.
CTK

BUSINESS

CTK's Business News in Brief
Czech property market revival to continue next year - brokersPrague - Czech property market revival will continue next year, with large agents to show better performance in particular, according to a CTK poll among real estate agents on the Czech market.

Regional differences will remain, however, they said, adding that the property market development will be based on the country's economic performance. Jan Boruvka of the asssociation of real estate companies said property deals will see a moderate growth but paradoxically, turnover of the association's members will not show a marked rise on average. The real estate market will be doing well like the entire Czech economy, though, he said.

Erba Lachema plans to strengthen position in Russia
Brno - Pharmaceutical company Erba Lachema is planning to strengthen its position on the Russian market next year and also wants to launch activities on the market in India, the firm's sales director Kamil Splichal has told CTK.
Erba Lachema expects to generate sales of about Kc300m this year, a growth of 15 percent compared with the year 2012. It wants to increase sales at the same pace in 2014 as well. The company's profit fell to about Kc9m in 2012 from almost Kc19m in the previous year, but this and next year profit should grow again.

Ural Airlines to launch Chelyabinsk/Prague flights
Moscow - Russian company Ural Airlines will launch direct flights between Chelyabinsk and Prague on Friday, with three return flights in the coming three weeks, and regular weekly flights will start on April 5, Russian news server RusBusinessNews announced on Monday.
Ural Airlines press office told the server that the flights from Chelyabinsk to Prague and back would be on Saturdays. Ural Airlines ranks among the five biggest airlines in Russia.

 


 

 

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Tuesday, Decemeber 24, 2013

Czech coalition leaders not to meet by end of year
Prague, Dec 23 (CTK) - The leaders of the centre-left coalition to be formed by the Social Democrats (CSSD), the ANO movement and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) will probably not meet again before the end of the year.

However, Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka, who is entrusted with forming the government, is likely to visit President Milos Zeman in order to inform him about the planned government lineup.
Before the meeting, the CSSD board is to have a meeting at which Sobotka wants to discuss the list of ministerial candidates for Social Democrats.
At the weekend, the coalition representatives agreed to sign the coalition pact on January 6. Before, they are unlikely to meet.
The ANO leader, agro and media tycoon Andrej Babis, leaves abroad at Christmas and will only return on January 5, his spokeswoman Radka Burketova said.
Babis does not reckon with a meeting with Zeman either.
However, Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told CTK today that he wanted to meet leaders of the coalition parties to be ensured about the support to the government in the Chamber of Deputies.
The Christian Democrats have announced their candidates to the government posts as did ANO, with the exception of transport minister.
The media has written that it may be ANO deputy Martin Kolovratnik.
The Social Democrats have not officially published their candidates.
Sobotka wants to discuss at first the candidates with the party's board that is to meet on Friday. Subsequently he may go with the full list to Zeman.
The CSSD may be represented in the government by Milan Chovanec (Interior Ministry), Lubomir Zaoralek (Foreign Ministry), Jan Mladek (Industry and Trade Ministry), Marcel Chladek (Education Ministry) and Svatopluk Nemecek (Health Ministry).
It is unclear who will fill the post of Labour and Social Affairs Minister as Social Democrat shadow minister Roman Sklenak is also chairman of the deputy group.
The CSSD is also to occupy the post of minister without portfolio responsible for the government legislative council, human rights and equal opportunities. It may be filled with senator Jiri Dienstbier.
Zeman made it clear earlier that he was not ready to name some suggested candidates.
His reservations mainly related to Zaoralek and to Martin Stropnicky, who was proposed by ANO as defence minister.
Dienstbier said since constitutional powers were rather clearly delineated, the president could not reject anyone without giving a serious reason.
CTK

CSSD regional branches welcome Czech govt coalition agreement
Prague, Dec 23 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) regional organisations' leaderships appreciate that the CSSD has closed the coalition pact and agreed on the division of government posts with its partners, the ANO movement and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).

However, CSSD regional politicians have different stances on whether the CSSD should give in to the KDU-CSL in the dispute about the Agriculture Ministry.
The CSSD will have eight seats, including the post of prime minister for its chairman Bohuslav Sobotka. The Social Democrats will head the foreign and interior ministries, for example.
ANO will fill six posts and its chairman Andrej Babis will be deputy PM as well as finance minister.
The Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) will get three ministerial posts, including that of agriculture minister.
CSSD Central Bohemia regional branch head Marcel Chladek has assessed the government coalition as a good result. The coalition agreement reflects some 80 percent of the CSSD programme, he added.
Vysocina regional head Petr Krcal does not mind the Christian Democrats gaining the post of agriculture ministry eventually, while CSSD Olomouc regional head Jiri Zemanek has the opposite opinion.
He added that the Christian Democrats' strategy in the negotiations about the government's lineup had not surprised him.
"I firmly hope that the CSSD will succeed in pushing through its pre-election programme in the government formed this way, which is crucial," CSSD South Moravia regional branch head Zdenek Dufek told CTK.
Dalibor Sedlacek, chairman of the CSSD Zlin regional committee, also welcomed the constitution of the three-party coalition before Christmas.
CSSD Liberec regional head Robert Dusek appreciated that the three-party coalition project had not failed over the filling of ministerial posts. He said he did not mind the Christian Democrats having the post of agriculture minister.
"I think this is a good programme for this country," Miroslav Novak, head of the CSSD Moravia-Silesia regional organisation, told CTK.
The CSSD, which won the late-October general election with 20.5 percent of the vote, ANO, which ended second with 18.7 percent, and the Christian Democrats (6.8 percent), who returned to the Chamber of Deputies after three years, together command a majority of 111 votes in the 200-seat lower house.
The parties' leaders will probably meet at the beginning of January again.
CTK

Lawyer Valkova proposed for Czech justice minister
Prague, Dec 23 (CTK) - Brief profile of lawyer, university lecturer and deputy Helena Valkova, 62, who has been proposed for justice minister in the Czech coalition government in the making for the ANO movement:

Date and place of birth: January 7, 1951, in Chlumec nad Cidlinou, east Bohemia.
Education: graduated from the Law Faculty of Charles University; granted title of Professor at University of Trnava, west Slovakia, according to media.
Current posts: lawmaker (since October 26, 2013), deputy chairwoman of ANO 2011 deputy group (since October 30), deputy head of Chamber of Deputies constitutional-legal committee (since December 5); deputy head of the social work department of the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague and member of the faculty's ethical commission.
Career: researcher in the Criminology Research Institute and the State and Law Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Science (until the end of the 1980s); in the spring of 1990 she initiated a working group to prepare a penal law reform; study and research stay at Max Planck University in Freiburg, Germany, in the early 1990s; she started teaching at the faculties of law and arts of Charles University; founded branch of German publisher's of legal and economic literature C. H. Beck in 1999 and headed it for 18 years; in 1999 she was appointed head of the penal law department of the Law Faculty of University of West Bohemia in Plzen, left it in 2011.
Membership of and posts in political parties: member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC) before 1989; involved in the Civic Forum (OF; Czech umbrella organisation of pro-democratic forces established in 1989) in the early 1990s.

Other information:
- She specialises in penal law and criminology; is author and co-author of several books focused on these topics.
- She helped write the laws on strengthening the rights of crime victims, on the probation and mediation service and on the judiciary dealing with juvenile cases.
- She criticised the situation at the Plzen Faculty od Law where some prominent students, such as politicians and police officers, completed their studies and received doctorates suspiciously quickly and under unusual circumstances. Over her criticism, she was temporarily dismissed as the penal law department's head in 2009. She left the faculty, along with other lecturers, in 2011.
- Weekly Respekt reported in September that Jiri Dienstbier had offered Valkova cooperation with the CSSD. Dienstbier then lost influence in the party and the offer faded away. Valkova accepted the candidacy for ANO on condition that she did not have to enter the movement and was able to draft her own expert programme.
- She was running as independent on the list of ANO candidates in Prague in the late-October early general elections. She finished second after ANO leader Andrej Babis.
CTK

Czech Communist MPs want to raise social scholarship level
Prague, Dec 24 (CTK) - The Czech Communist (KSCM) MPs have proposed that the social scholarship for students from low-income groups at universities increase by 480 crowns to 2100 crowns a month and they have submitted the respective bill to the Chamber of Deputies, its authors have said.

The Communists justify the rise saying the social scholarship level has not increased for years and its real value has dropped due to inflation.
"From 2007 to 2013, the inflation development and the constant rise in living costs meant a growing burden for the socially weak students and their families. The purchasing power of the sum of 1620 crowns, embedded in law, considerably decreased until 2013," the bill's authors argue.
However, they have not calculated the budget costs of their proposal.
They only say the social scholarship expenditures are not very high compared to other scholarships and their volume has been decreasing.
The government is first to assess the bill before the parliament is to vote on it.
($1=20.121 crowns)
CTK

UOHS dealing with sale of Londa to Babis's Agrofert
Brno, Dec 23 (CTK) - Czech anti-monopoly office (UOHS) on Thursday launched an inquiry into the sale of Londa to the Agrofert group of billionaire businessman and politician Andrej Babis, the office said on its website.

Londa runs the most popular Czech radio station, Radio Impuls.
The UOHS is looking into radio broadcasting and providing of advertising space in media.
Decision on the merger is expected within a month. Serious cases are examined within a period of up to five months.
"By acquiring Londa we have expanded our media services to include radio broadcasting which, we believe, will make our media division more attractive for trading partners and will boost its development," Agrofert board member Libor Nemecek said earlier.
Radio Impuls was the best acquisition target by its focus, market position and staff professionalism, said Nemecek.
Londa also runs the Prague radio station RockZone 105.9.
Babis said that media purchases, made by his firms, are financial investments that have nothing to do with business activities of Agrofert or tasks faced by him as a politician and by his movement ANO.
Babis said he wanted to build a strong media group on the Czech market within five years.
Londa, established in 1993, is one of the biggest players on the radio market in the country. Radio Impuls, which it operates, enjoys a 12.5 percent share of the market.
Babis entered the media market in March last year when he started publishing a free regional weekly, 5plus2.
Agrofert has bought the publisher Mafra this year. It owns the dailies MF Dnes and Lidove noviny and their online versions iDnes.cz and Lidovky.cz. Radio stations Expres radio and Classic FM were part of the publishing group but were then transferred to the original owner of Mafra, Rheinisch-Bergische Verlagsgesellschaft.
Babis, 59, has been proposed for finance minister and deputy prime minister for the economy in the Czech government in the making.
Negotiations about the new government have been conducted by the Social Democrats (CSSD), who won the October general election with 20.5 percent of the vote, ANO (18.7 percent) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL, 6.8 percent).
CTK
 


 

 

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Monday, December 23, 2013
 

Survey of candidates for nascent Czech coalition government
Prague, Dec 23 (CTK) - A survey of candidates for ministers in the nascent Czech coalition government of the Social Democrats (CSSD), who have not officially confirmed their candidates, and the ANO 2011 movement and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) that have both confirmed the nominations.

CSSD: Prime Minister: CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka
Interior Minister: CSSD deputy chairman and Plzen Region governor Milan Chovanec
Industry and Trade Minister: MP Jan Mladek is speculated about; shadow industry minister is MP Milan Urban
Labour and Social Affairs Minister: possibly CSSD deputy group head Roman Sklenak; some media speculate about ex-PM and former EU commissioner Vladimir Spidla
Health Minister: Svatopluk Nemecek, shadow health minister
Education Minister: senator Marcel Chladek, shadow education minister
Minister for Government Legislative Council, human rights and equal opportunities: senator and shadow minister Jiri Dienstbier; some media speculate about Michaela Marksova Tominova, shadow human rights and family minister

ANO 2011:Finance Minister and Deputy PM for the Economy: ANO chairman Andrej Babis
Defence Minister: MP Martin Stropnicky
Local Development Minister: MP Vera Jourova
Environment Minister: MP Richard Brabec
Justice Minister: MP Helena Valkova
Transport Minister: no name has been proposed.

KDU-CSL: Minister without portfolio in charge of science, research and innovations: KDU-CSL chairman Pavel Belobradek
Culture Minister: MP Daniel Hermann
Agriculture Minister: MP and party deputy chairman Marian Jurecka

CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 23 (CTK) - The emerging Czech government coalition parties have agreed on their programme as well as on the division of ministries and they still have to overcome the last obstacle, President Milos Zeman who, however, will not probably eventually veto ministerial candidates in spite of his strong talk,Petr Honzejk writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

Zeman is weaker than he was still half a year ago, both physically and politically. Since this summer he has suffered several defeats, due to which he is not in a position to seriously complicate the formation of the government, Honzejk writes.
However, Zeman should not definitely be underestimated. In the technological sense, he is a great politician who has several times succeeded in doing what seemed impossible.
He turned the Social Democratic Party (CSSD), having 5 percent support in the 1990s, into a government party in 1998, and he succeeded in conquering the presidential post after ten years spent outside politics in January, Honzejk writes.
He writes that Zeman will hardly give up his struggle to change the Czech Republic into a presidential system of the eastern type.
The probable disputes in the government coalition will play into his hands. If he is physically fit, he will launch his new offensive in the spring already, Honzejk writes.

The Czech Republic is better off than people may think, Patria Finance chief economist David Marek writes elsewhere in Hospodarske noviny (HN).
He writes that the country is entering the year 2014 with an economy in a good condition and with the hope that economic growth will return to the country.
Marek writes that if he were a foreign banker, he would lend money to the Czech Republic.
However, this does not mean that the country would not have any problems. The Czech capital market, for instance, resembles African countries more than western Europe, not to mention the United States, Marek writes.
Yet, the Czech economy has potential to further grow up on the international ladder of economic performance and standards of living, Marek writes.

The Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) have realised that it is not possible to go too far in their game about government posts in the emerging government coalition and they have decided to pursue a different line, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in Pravo.
KDU-CSL chairman Pavel Belobradek learnt with a surprise after what he was showing until recently that people started to consider him a blackmailer and President Milos Zeman's ally, Mitrofanov writes.
Belobradek and the whole party were risking deletion from the government story and gaining the label of a destroyer. That is why they accepted the offer of three seats on the government the probable future prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD), made them, Mitrofanov writes.
CTK

Czech president, Prague archbishop listen to Advent Concert
Prague, Dec 22 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman and Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka attended the fourth Advent Concert with a charity collection in Saint Vitus cathedral today.

The proceeds of the collection will be given to the Saint Stephen Hospice in Litomerice, north Bohemia, that has provided health and social care to the incurably ill and dying people, their families and relatives for over 16 years.
The money will be spent on the staff's salaries.
The concert with various performers including pop star Karel Gott was broadcast live by Czech Television (CT) that has been staging Advent Concerts since 1991.
In the over 20-year history of Advent Concerts, more than 155 million crowns have been collected to sponsor 93 organisations.
Zeman and Duka met in Saint Vitus cathedral at Prague Castle. Some of its buildings are claimed by the church.
Zeman and Duka may reach an agreement on the church restitution at Prague Castle at the beginning of next year.
The Church applied for nine buildings in the Prague Castle complex in summer.
The Social Democrats that are forming the new government are against the valid scheme of return of property to churches.
($1 = 20.253 crowns)
CTK

Czech KDU-CSL should think of how not to disgust people - press
Prague, Dec 23 (CTK) - Czech Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) deputy head Marian Jurecka has conceded that the potential coalition cabinet partners start to be fed up with the party, Jiri Pehe writes in Pravo today and says the KDU-CSL should well consider further steps to take not to disgust people as well.

He writes that the Christian Democrats' behaviour during the negotiations about the government's coalition agreement was constructive.
But they started to strongly resemble Public Affairs (VV), a junior party in the first half of former Petr Necas's (Civic Democrats, ODS) government, when ministries started to be divided, Pehe writes.
No one can blame the KDU-CSL for trying to secure the strongest possible position in the government, but the "blacmkailing" potential of the smallest government coalitions' members usually have must be handled with caution, Pehe writes.
After long months of instability, people want an end to be put to the political behaviour that was once shown by the VV, Pehe writes.
He writes that people are also fed up with the provisional arrangement in the form of the so-called government of experts, with which President Milos Zeman has torpedoed the functioning of the party system in the country.
The Christian Democrats definitely have a right to respect for their "priorities," Pehe writes.
However, they have unfortunately incapable of explaining to the public why they consider particularly the Agriculture Ministry, not perhaps the bigger and important Labour and Social Affairs Ministry that they could lead, is their "priority," Pehe writes.
The KDU-CSL will eventually get the Agriculture Ministry. It will be headed by the above Marian Jurecka.
Besides this, Pehe writes, it has been clear since the start of the coalition negotiations that not only one government is at stake, Pehe writes.
He writes that in the dispute with the constitutionally expansive president, the very continuation of the parliamentary system in this country is at stake.
Bohuslav Sobotka, chairman of the election winning Social Democrats (CSSD), is in clinch, but this does not mean that the party that will abuse his difficult position, which the KDU-CSL's behaviour indicated, will profit from the situation, Pehe writes.
He writes that especially party chairman Pavel Belobradek should reflect on his steps. It may have only been by chance that the behaviour of his party was discernibly more constructive when he was on a training stay in the United States, Pehe writes.
As if he wanted to show who is the lord in the party after his return, he started to issue ultimata on behalf of his party that were in sharp contrast with the previous effort to reach agreement, Pehe writes.
Belobradek's behaviour started to resemble the difficult-to- understand escapades of VV chairman Vit Barta in the past. Belobradek, too, started to seek an alliance with the unpredictable president [Vaclav Klaus in Barta's case], Pehe writes.
It was probably thanks to Belobradek's colleagues in the party presidium that he stopped his further counter-productive attempts to make unnecessary demands, Pehe writes.
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Bishops are Slovak PM Fico's new enemy - press
Prague, Dec 23 (CTK) - Catholic circles have started attacking Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and bishops called his government "the culture of death" in their pastoral letter that was read in churches on the first Advent Sunday, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today.

The paper says the bishops' appeal might influence the March presidential election in which Fico, leader of the Smer-Social Democracy (Smer-SD), will be running.
Not the split right-wing opposition but the Catholics could become the force to defeat Fico in Slovakia, which is one of the strongest Catholic countries in the world, according to statistics, MfD writes.
It recalls that Slovak Catholics recently staged one of the largest demonstrations in the post-1989 history of Slovakia to show that they would like to more meddle in the country's affairs. Some 100,000 people took part in the "March for Life" against euthanasia, abortion and registered partnership of same-sex couples in Kosice, east Slovakia, at the end of September, MfD writes.
At the beginning of December, Slovak bishops emotionally criticised Fico's one-colour cabinet as "the culture of death threatening the existence of the nation."
The letter particularly condemned homosexual partnership saying it is "in contradiction with God's will" but it also directly attacked the government of Fico's Smer. In conclusion, the bishops called on Slovaks to boycott the left wing, MfD writes.
"Only the candidate who rejects the culture of death can get our vote in any elections," MfD cites the pastoral letter.
In reaction to it, Fico sent a long letter to the Slovak Bishops' Conference in which he called on the Catholic Church leadership to respect the government policy and not to make any recommendations concerning elections and candidates to believers," Slovak daily SME writes.
Pavol Paska, the parliament's chairman and Smer deputy head, openly challenged the Slovak bishops' stance.
"It is unacceptable for the clergy in a democratic society to so directly attempt to influence public opinion and voters," Paska said in an interview for the TASR Slovak press agency, MfD writes.
"I am not a proponent of the culture of death ideas," he added.
MfD notes that Smer MEPs support the left-wing (tolerant) approach to abortion, homosexual partnership and euthanasia.
However, Fico's party is more cautious at home. Fico, for instance, avoided answering the daily Pravda's question of whether he would sign the bill on registered partnership of same-sex couples as head of state, MfD writes.
Moreover, Fico's situation is complicated by the fact that his rival in the presidential contest is Christian Democrat (KDH) Pavol Hrusovsky, former head of parliament, who is supported by a major part of the opposition, MfD says, adding that the bishops' support might help Hrusovsky in the election.
Many Catholics are among Sme voters, while the right-wing opposition is supported by a number of liberal voters in cities, who consider the above mentioned bishops' opinions "a bit radical," to say at least, MfD says.
CTK


 

 

 

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Czech Christian Democrats agree with government posts
Prague, Dec 21 (CTK) - The national committee of Czech Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) today agreed with the Social Democrats' offer of posts in the government in the making, party deputy chairman Marian Jurecka has told the Prima commercial television station.

They are to receive agriculture and culture ministries and one ministry without portfolio, Jurecka said, adding that the decision had not been unanimous as some members of the party board were against it.
Party leader Pavel Belobradek said the party would like the minister without portfolio to be in charge of science, research and innovations.
The committee then discussed the candidates for the agreed-on posts.
A CTK source said the KDU-CSL would nominate Jurecka to the post of agriculture minister, Daniel Herman to the post of culture minister and Belobradek as a government member without portfolio responsible for science and innovations.
However, after the talks ended, Belobradek declined to give any names to journalists.
He said he would at first them submit them Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka.
Sobotka said further coalition talks would be held on Sunday.
The Christian Democrats' prospective coalition partners have welcomed their decision. They said now the concrete occupation of government posts could be discussed.
"After a two-and-a-half intensive discussion, the party's national committee accepted the offer," Jurecka told Czech Television.
Representatives of Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO movement said on Friday the offer of the posts in the government for the KDU-CSL would be the third and last.
Its refusal would mean the end of the attempts at forming a three-member coalition.
"We did not consider it any ultimatum. If members of the committee wanted to refuse the entry in the government, they would have done so irrespective of any ultimatum," Jurecka said.
Jurecka told CTK the coalition talks would now continue.
They will focus on the search for specific candidates for ministerial posts.
Probable future prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said he considered the Christian Democrats' today's decision realistic and constructive.
"Thanks to the successful talks in the past three days, the last obstacle on the road to forming a concrete lineup of the new government was removed. Now the nascent coalition can deal with this," Sobotka told CTK.
He said it was apparent after today that the new coalition government had a clear majority of 111 votes in the Chamber of Deputies.
Nothing prevents the preparation of the final signature of the coalition pact and subsequent constitutional steps by the president, he added.
"It is a good thing that the KDU-CSL has adopted a reasonable position to the benefit of the state and that we can start discussing the government lineup," Jaroslav Faltynek, chairman of the ANO deputy group, said.
CTK

Czech President Zeman receives Babis
Lany, Central Bohemia, Dec 21 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman received billionaire Andrej Babis, leader of centrist ANO (YES) movement, at the presidential residence in Lany today, presidential spokesman Jiri Ovcacek has told CTK.

Babis asked for the meeting, said Ovcacek, who refused to elaborate.
Ovcacek did not say about what Babis and Zeman had spoken.
"We will not comment on the content of the negotiations in any way," Ovcacek told CTK.
ANO, the Social Democrats (CSSD) and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) are conducting talks on the formation of a new government.
Zeman said earlier he would like the members of the new government to present a negative lustration certificate, proving that they were never collaborators of the StB Communist-era secret service.
The lustration law bars members of the pre-1989 communist repressive bodies from senior posts in the civil service.
Babis's name figures in a file of the communist secret police as its collaborator. He dismisses it and seeks exoneration in court in Slovakia where he was born.
CTK

Czech Communists submit referendum against church restitution
Prague, Dec 21 (CTK) - Czech Communists (KSCM) have submitted a bill proposing a referendum cancelling the law on the return of property to churches from the state in the Chamber of Deputies.

Under the bill, the following question will be asked: "Do you agree with the parliament of the Czech Republic cancelling the law on property settlement with churches and religious societies?"
Under the bill, the referendum would be declared by the president within 30 days after the law takes effect.
It is to be held between the 30th and 60th day after its declaration.
If the general public does not cancel the legislation, the government or at least two-fifths of lawmakers are to have the right to submit a proposal to the president to declare it again.
Such a referendum could be declared at least two years after the previous one.
It is the objective of the bill that the decision on such an essential and long-standing burdening of the budget should be made by citizens of the Czech Republic as a sovereign of the power, not its elected representatives who speak on behalf of parties rather than citizens, the KSCM bill says.
KSCM submitted a similar law in the previous election term, but the Chamber of Deputies rejected it in 2011.
Under the law churches are to be returned land and real estate, confiscated from them by the communist regime, worth 75 billion and given 59 billion crowns plus inflation in financial compensation for unreturned property during the following 30 years. The largest sum, 47 billion crowns, would go to the Roman Catholic Church.
At the same time, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
Some 30 percent of Czechs consider the return of property to churches fair, while the remaining 70 percent believe the opposite, according to a poll conducted by the STEM polling institute in December.
Marek Benda, a deputy for the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), said the Communist proposal was a populist shout.
"Everyone knows that even a referendum cannot change our obligations given by the decisions of the Constitutional Court and concluded agreements," Benda told CTK.
Benda said this only showed the KSCM was returning to the 1950s, having the feeling that it could grab property and ignore agreements.
($1 = 20.253 crowns)
CTK

Czech CSSD may sue Zeman over powers - press
Prague, Dec 21 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman's effort to interfere in the composition of the nascent government may bring about an open clash between him and Social Democrat (CSSD) leader Bohuslav Sobotka in the form of a complaint lodged with the Constitutional Court (US), daily Pravo writes today.

If Zeman refuses to appoint some cabinet members that will be proposed by Sobotka, who is entrusted with forming the new government, the Social Democrats are ready to escalate the feud and file a complaint about presidential powers with the US(Constitutional Court), it adds.
The Czech Republic has not experienced such a rift between the head of state and the prime minister in its modern history, Pravo writes.
"There is the legal instrument on the basis of which the prime minister can file a complaint with the US over powers," Social Democrat senator Jiri Dienstbier, who may become the next justice minister, is quoted as saying.
Zeman has repeatedly made it clear that he is reluctant to accept some suggested names, most notably Social Democrat Lubor Zaoralek who may be proposed for foreign minister.
Zaoralek was reputedly one of the CSSD deputies who refused to vote for Zeman in the 2003 presidential election, held in the parliament. Sobotka, too, is considered Zeman's opponent.
Zeman is reportedly also against Dienstbier, the official Social Democrat candidate in the direct presidential election, won by Zeman at the beginning of the year.
Dienstbier said the crushing majority of constitutional law experts had put it clearly.
The sentence in the constitution that says the president appoints a minister on the prime minister's proposal means the duty of the head of state to do so, he added.
Dienstbier said the lawsuit over powers had still a hitch as Zeman must at first name Sobotka as prime minister. For all the previous talks, this may not be clear, he added.
A complaint over powers can only be filed by state and self-rule bodies, including the prime minister, Pravo writes.
Sobotka said he believed he really would be named.
"I do not think anyone else in the Chamber of Deputies is standing a chance of forming the government," Sobotka told the paper.
The CSSD is conducting talks with food and media mogul Andrej Babis's ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) on the new government to arise from the late October election.
Sobotka said Zeman should not drag his feet with his naming for ever and should do so.
"We have been trying to create the right conditions within the coalition talks," Sobotka said.
Zeman has also made it clear he is reluctant to name Martin Stropnicky (ANO) to the post of defence minister, Pravo writes.
Zeman has never made it secret that he wants to intervene in the government composition, it adds.
"If the president is not insane, he naturally takes interest in the persons to fill the government," Zeman is quoted as saying.
Zeman bases his reluctance to name automatically the proposed ministers on the expert report drafted by Jan Barta, director of the Institute of State and Law of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.
"As the president decides, he bears political responsibility for his decisions before the public. He cannot be a passive element," Barta is quoted as saying.
Barta said this was the only possible interpretation of the constitution.
However, constitutional law experts addressed by the paper said in unison the head of state must name the persons proposed by the prime ministers as cabinet members.
CTK

ECONOMY

Technoexport wins 2nd largest Czech contract in post-war Iraq-HN
Prague, Dec 19 (CTK) - Czech company Technoexport of the group Safichem Group has acquired the second largest Czech contract in post-war Iraq which is also the largest contract in its modern history, business daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) wrote today.

Technoexport, implementing investment plants and machineries all over the world, has won a $250m (Kc5bn) contract on the modernisation of two Baiji Salahedden refineries (north of Iraq) for the state-run North Refineries Company, HN said.
Czech firms have long been interested in the project, HN said.
"A considerable progress has been made recently and we've received confirmation information that (Iraq's) Ministry of Oil has approved the contract," Technoexport owner Tomas Plachy told the newspaper.
Works will begin next year and the project is to be completed within two years.
"Of the amount of $250m that will be distributed by Technoexport, around 60 percent of works will be implemented by Czech companies," HN quoted Plachy as saying.
Technoexport reckons with the Brno-based companies Prokop Engineering and UNIS as the project's partners, Plachy said.
Chemoprojekt, Technoexport's sister, will be in charge of project engineering whose price is $29m, Plachy noted.
Technoexport has built over 60 percent of Iraq's refining capacity.
Plachy is now returning to the refineries where he was working from November 1979 to December 1984. He was in charge of the construction of the two refineries in Baiji, HN wrote.
Construction of a 980 megawatt gas and steam power plant, Erbil, in Iraq's autonomous province of Kurdistan is to be the largest Czech contract in that country.
Originally the project was valued at up to $1bn (Kc20bn at current exchange rate). The contract was not cancelled but the price was cut markedly to around one third of the amount, HN said.
"The sum is significantly lower. It should be a bit more than Kc7bn," Jan Prochazka, CEO of the Export Guarantee and Insurance Corporation (EGAP), told the paper.
CTK

 


 

 

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Czech Christian Democrats nod to agriculture ministry in cabinet
Prague, Dec 20 (CTK) - Czech Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) are likely to get the agriculture and culture ministries as well as a ministry without portfolio in the government in the making, as the party board approved the proposal today, party leader Pavel Belobradek has told Czech Television (CT).

This arrangement was proposed to the KDU-CSL by Social Democrat (CSSD) leader Bohuslav Sobotka, who is likely to be the next prime minister.
The KDU-CSL board approved the proposal unanimously, but it is yet to be given a go-ahead by the party's national committee, probably on Saturday.
"This is rather a surprise for me, but this is the reality. We will see what the decision of the national committee will be," Belobradek told CT.
Representatives of the CSSD and the populist ANO movement, the third prospective partner in the coalition government, said today's offer would be the third and last.
If the Christian Democrats rejected it, the attempts at forming a three-party coalition might end.
"As far as the KDU-CSL is concerned, I am afraid that the offer is not sufficient because there was a considerable ambition to receive three full-fledged ministries at the national committee of the party on Thursday," Belobradek said.
He said the Christian Democrats would prefer the ministries of transport, education or labour and social affairs.
Daniel Herman is being spoken about as a Christian Democrat culture minister.
President Milos Zeman has told Belobradek he would not be opposed to the nomination.
Belobradek said in the afternoon he would like the members of the national committee to meet on Saturay.
The vote may also be held online, he added.
If the coalition pact were not agreed on, the Christian Democrats might either support a minority government or go to the opposition, he added.
CTK

Restitution deal on Prague Castle after New Year - Archbishop
Prague, Dec 20 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman and Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka will not reach an agreement on the church restitution at Prague Castle by the end of the year, but it will be signed at the beginning of next year only, Milan Badal, from the Prague Archbishopric, told CTK today.

Duka said on Monday the church restitution deal within the Prague Castle complex where some buildings are to be handed over to the Roman Catholic Church and then swapped for others is to be made by the end of the year.
The Church applied for nine buildings in the Prague Castle complex in summer, allegedly based on an agreement Duka struck with Zeman's predecessor Vaclav Klaus.
Zeman, a leftist president inaugurated in March, said the Church's present claims for some houses did not correspond to the agreement.
The Social Democrats (CSSD), now close to forming a centre-left government, are opposed to the deal. They want the complex of the Prague Castle, seat of the Czech heads of state, to be exempted from the restitution process and to lower the compensations prescribed by the law.
The CSSD today called on the Prague Castle management to release the details of the planned swap of buildings.
Duka said the agreement should allow the security of the complex and the operation of the Presidential Office to remain unchanged, but at the same time allow the Catholic Church to gain premises needed for its life and for the development of St Vitus Cathedral.
Klaus and Duka allegedly agreed that the Church should own the buildings that it has been using within the Prague Castle complex.
CTK

Trust in Czech president slightly increasing - poll
Prague, Dec 20 (CTK) - The trust in President Milos Zeman and the Czech Senate increased slightly and that in the Chamber of Deputies rather strongly in December, according to a poll conducted by the CVVM in early December and released today.

However, the Chamber of Deputies is still enjoying the lowest trust, with only 21 percent.
On the other hand, mayors of towns and villages are trusted by three-fifths of Czechs.
After the CNB central bank intervened in the exchange rate of the crown, due to which it weakened by about 3 percent, the trust in it considerably fell.
Zeman is trusted by 41 percent, while the figure stood at 39 percent in November and at 51 percent in October.
The change is within statistical margin of error, the pollsters said.
"Zeman tends to be more often trusted by the elderly, the economically inactive people, pensioners and followers of the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Communists (KSCM)," the pollsters said.
The trust in the Chamber of Deputies increased to 21 percent from the November 15 percent, and that in the Senate by 2 percent to 28 percent.
The two houses of the Czech parliament tend to be mostly trusted by the people under 30, with higher education and good living standards.
The trust in the outgoing Jiri Rusnok's caretaker government has remained at 24 percent.
Regional and local representations enjoy a higher trust than the national ones. Regional assemblies are trusted by 41 percent of Czechs, an increase compared with the November 38 percent.
The trust in town halls increased by 1 percent to 59 percent.
The mayors were trusted by 61 percent and regional governors by 39 percent of those polled.
The trust in the CNB plummeted to 38 percent in December from 66 percent April 2011.
Its steps have been criticised by President Milos Zeman and his predecessor Vaclav Klaus, but defended by Rusnok.
Some 8 percent of Czechs are satisfied with the political situation, compared with 7 percent in November.
Dissatisfaction was voiced by 62 percent of respondents, 5 percent less than a month ago.
The poll was conducted on a sample of 987 Czechs over 15 on December 2-9.
CTK

Most Czechs are against return of property to churches - poll
Prague, Dec 20 (CTK) - Some 30 percent of Czechs consider the return of property to churches fair, while the remaining 70 percent believe the opposite, according to a poll conducted by the STEM polling institute in December and released today.

When asked whether they agree with the valid law on the return of property to churches, the positive reply was only given by 22 percent of Czechs, with 78 percent of them being against.
The law on the return of property confiscated under the Communist regime to churches took effect in January.
Under the law churches are to be returned land and real estate, confiscated from them by the communist regime, worth 75 billion and given 59 billion crowns plus inflation in financial compensation for unreturned property during the following 30 years. The largest sum, 47 billion crowns, would go to the Roman Catholic Church.
At the same time, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
Two-fifths of Czechs believe churches are important.
STEM analysts said the developments around the church restitution influenced the public's position on the churches themselves.
Last year, after the relevant legislation was passed, the proportion of those considering churches useful fell from 40 to 36 percent.
The STEM has been watching the topic since 1995. Until 2007, two-fifths of Czechs agreed with the return, but then the figure started falling.
Churches are mainly important for the people who believe in God who also more often agree with the restitution scheme.
It is approved of by more than one half of Christian Democrat (KDU- CSL) voters. It is most rejected by the followers of the Communists (KSCM) and food and media mogul Andrej Babis's populist ANO.
($1=20.232 crowns)
CTK

ECONOMY

Overall confidence in Czech economy up again in December - CSU
Prague, Dec 20 (CTK) - Czech economic sentiment indicator in December increased by one point compared to November to 5.5 points and it was the fifth consecutive increase, the Czech Statistical Office (CSU) said today
.

Confidence increased in trade and selected services. Confidence in industry remained unchanged and in construction it slightly decreased, the CSU said.
Business confidence was rising while consumer confidence was virtually unchanged, statisticians said.
"Composite confidence indicator is at its highest in around one year and a half," said CSOB analyst Petr Dufek.
He assigned the growth in confidence to a weaker crown which made consumers run to stores to buy goods at current prices before prices of imported products are going up.
Consumer confidence indicator in December was 0.2 point lower compared to the previous month and stayed in negative territory at minus 9.5 points and it was higher on the year, said statisticians.
Consumers are, however, more concerned about worsening of the overall economic situation in the next 12 months.
Fears about their financial situation or higher unemployment were the same as in November. Their plans to save did not change either. They are less willing to buy durables and are more afraid of price hikes, the CSU said.
Business indicator added 1.3 points to 9.2 points. Confidence indicator in trade jumped by 6.3 points from November to 12 points and in selected services including the banking sector it posted a rise of 2.4 points to 27.7 points.
Confidence in industry stayed at November's 2.7 points and in construction it went down by 0.5 point to minus 52.5 points.

Czech confidence indicators:

confidence indicator Dec 2012 (in pct) Nov 2013 (in pct) Dec 2013 (in pct)
business 1.6 7.9 9.2
industry -10.3 2.7 2.7
construction -45.5 -52.0 -52.5
consumers -26.0 -9.3 -9.5
composite indicator -3.9 4.5 5.5

Source: CSU


 

 

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Friday, December 29, 2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 20 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman will go to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi unlike the German, Austrian French and U.S. heads of state, and probable Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka agrees with him, saying it is no good to irritate a big partner, Petr Honzejk writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

He writes that a fundamental stand of political representatives would not harm the business interests of Czech firms because he who has what to offer will succeed anywhere, Honzejk writes.
What is more, it is vitally important for the identity of this country to know where it belongs, and this is a task for politicians, Honzejk writes.
Otherwise the Czech Republic will start to gradually change until it ends up in the East. Politically, mentally, economically, Honzejk writes.

Only the Constitutional Court (US) can resolve the dispute over whether the president may or may not refuse to appoint a minister, which proves how much the domestic political "elites" have degenerated, Martin Zverina writes in Lidove noviny (LN).
Irrespective of who wins, the situation is nothing but a start of an endless row of further battles for presidential powers, Zverina writes.
There is no hope for a reasonable agreement between Zeman and the prime minister unless the latter committed political suicide, Zverina writes.
Moreover, Zeman will be also motivated by that the US's lineup corresponds to his wishes and the court's chairman does not conceal his liking for the president, Zverina writes.
Power restraint can hardly be expected of a person who is incapable of giving up smoking and drinking alcohol. There will be more and more disputes as a result, Zverina writes.

When two people do the same, it is not the same, which applies to the behaviour of President Milos Zeman and his chancellor Vratislav Mynar, Lukas Jelinek writes in Pravo.
The offences Zeman utters about of journalists, irrespective of how unjust they may be, have a certain perverse charm, perhaps because Zeman is an eccentric person, Jelinek writes.
But when the chancellor wants to imitate Zeman, it makes the impression of tired-out hatred, Jelinek writes.
Mynar became a symbol of an invasive concept of the presidential mandate. He was verbally offensive, he was attacking politicians as well as journalists, Jelinek writes.
He writes that Zeman has probably realised that his team has not brought him too many positive points and he is not against changes. He has pronounced hard words about Mynar, who applied for a top-secret security vetting only on Wednesday while he should have done so when he took up the post at the beginning of the year, Jelinek writes.
The president should have top-level clerks, mature personalities with a clean shield. They have a fundamentally contribute to the president's (non)popularity as well as relations with other constitutional officials, Jelinek writes.
Not the behaviour of country bumpkins, but dignity, humbleness and willingness should be at home at the presidential seat a Prague Castle, Jelinek writes.
CTK


ANO's Babis will be kingpin of emerging Czech government - press
Prague, Dec 20 (CTK) - The Czech Republic will most probably eventually have a three-party government coalition that will be characterised by a strangely unstable stability, whose main kingpin will be the ANO movement's chairman Andrej Babis, Bohumil Pecinka writes in daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.

Negotiations about the new government have been conducted by the Social Democrats (CSSD), who won the October general election with 20.5 percent of the vote, ANO (18.7 percent) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL, 6.8 percent).
Their government-forming negotiations have got stuck over the Agriculture Ministry, which both the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats say is their priority.
Pecinka writes that the KDU-CSL and partially also the CSSD pay dearly for their lack of experience and a small manoeuvring space.
At the very beginning, they allowed billionaire Babis to impose on them his gyms and other sports facilities as the venue of the government-forming negotiations by which they started to build his authority and so actually agreed to his "leading role" in the new system, Pecinka writes.
It is clear seven weeks after the elections that Babis is the king of current Czech politics and he enjoys his position. All others must do something while he does not have to do anything, Pecinka writes.
He writes that Social Democrats and their leader Bohuslav Sobotka must form a government to mask the worse than expected election gain.
Pecinka writes that the KDU-CSL must strive for ministries because it was outside government too long [three years while it participated in almost all previous governments] and they have invested too much energy in the three-party coalition project, Pecinka writes.
Babis, for his part, can wait and test a situation that is most suitable for him because he has the largest manoeuvring space, Pecinka writes.
He writes that on the government level he participates in the formation of Sobotka's cabinet, but at the same time he can rely on alliance with the Communists (KSCM) and the Dawn of Direct Democracy of Tomio Okamura, which is an "almost majority" reserve ready to be activated, Pecinka writes.
The emerging three-party government coalition has 111 mandates in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, the "reserve" coalition has 94 votes.
He writes that Babis can also rely on the newly emerging alliance with President Milos Zeman.
The Christian Democrats should not be surprised at Babis reacting to their belated personnel demands (for the Agriculture Ministry) in the spirit of the slogan of some businesspeople: where force does not help, an ever bigger force will do, Pecinka writes.
The Christian Democrats should make a decision. They will either accept Babis's dominant role, will start doing politics and cease grumbling, or they will go into opposition, Pecinka writes.
The public is not interested in their moralising arguments with which they are covering up their inexperience [that is due to a rejuvenated team of leaders], he adds.
The KDU-CSL as well as the CSSD are in the position of a young bride who wants to enter into marriage with an old bachelor who was accustomed to make important decisions himself throughout his life, Pecinka writes.
To be surprised shortly before the wedding that he tends to use force amounts to blaming oneself of inability to accept things as they are. Babis, 59, can be regulated, but he cannot be altered, Pecinka writes.
The negotiations that have been held to date indicate that Babis excels in feinting both beginners and veterans of bargaining in the Chamber of Deputies, Pecinka writes.
He has brought from business special negotiating procedures that do not directly target the goal, but that have many twists and turns that completely confuse the other side, Pecinka writes.
In the end, the fatigue of all is so great that they allow him to complete what he started, Pecinka writes.
He writes that it is not sure whether Babis will be able to govern just as well, but he should share his experience of a negotiator-businessman with university students.
The way in which he set the CSSD against the KDU-CSL over the Agriculture Ministry is exemplary, Pecinka writes.
He writes that the CSSD has not realised at all that the KDU-CSL is objectively its closest ally and that only thanks to the "special relations" with it it can maintain equilibrium in Sobotka's newly emerging government.
CTK

KDU-CSL to join Czech govt only if it gets agriculture ministry
Prague, Dec 19 (CTK) - The Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) will not form a Czech coalition government with the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the ANO movement unless they get the Agriculture Ministry, KDU-CSL leader Pavel Belobradek announced tonight after a meeting of the party's national committee.

The national committee insisted on the KDU-CSL being in charge of agriculture, Belobradek said.
The decision was unanimous, he added.
The committee also decided that Belobradek, a veterinarian by profession, would be the party's candidate for agriculture minister.
"We very much appreciate that our two partners offered us the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry, which we consider one of our priorities. We also appreciate the offer of the Transport Ministry. However, the Agriculture Ministry remains a priority for us," Belobradek told journalists.
He said he would like to further negotiate with the CSSD and ANO.
"We don't want to end the negotiations, however. We want to further negotiate and try to agree on such a solution that respects not only the priorities of the CSSD and ANO but also that of the KDU-CSL," Belobradek said.
Belobradek met President Milos Zeman earlier today. He said he presented the KDU-CSL position on the government composition and the development of the coalition talks to the president.
Belobradek said he also wanted to hear Zeman's stance on the coalition talks and his idea of the deadline by which they should be completed.
Zeman also indicated that he would not mind Belobradek being agriculture minister.
Potential prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) said in reaction to the result of the KDU-CSL national committee meeting that he cannot understand the position of the Christian Democrats.
He said the offer of the labour and transport ministries seemed good and generous.
Sobotka said he would nevertheless like to hold further talks on the government lineup on Friday.
"I don't really understand the negative stance of the Christian Democrats... But our country needs a new government and so the CSSD is willing to further negotiate," he told CTK.
He said he asked Belobradek and ANO leader Andrej Babis for a joint meeting on Friday.
Sobotka said he still considered a coalition of the three parties the best solution.
If the coalition talks fail, Sobotka may lose the position of CSSD leader as he has a number of opponents in his party.
ANO lower house group head Jaroslav Faltynek said the KDU-CSL stance did not surprise him.
CTK

Czech president meets CSSD, KDU heads over coalition talks
Prague, Dec 19 (CTK) - Social Democrat (CSSD) leader Bohuslav Sobotka today talked with President Milos Zeman about the negotiations on a potential Czech government that got stuck on the dispute over the post of agriculture minister, possible next PM Sobotka said after his regular meeting with Zeman.

Zeman had talks with Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) chairman Pavel Belobradek afterwards.
The CSSD, the ANO centrist movement and the KDU-CSL have been negotiating about a coalition government for several weeks. The three parties agreed on the coalition agreement, or the programme of their possible government, earlier this week.
On Monday, the three party leaders began to discuss the composition of the cabinet and decided that the CSSD would have eight, ANO seven and the KDU-CSL three ministers.
The KDU-CSL insists on being in charge of the Agriculture Ministry, which the CSSD does not want to give up and it is supported by ANO.
The Agriculture Ministry has powers related to the decisions on the returning of property within the church restitution law. The CSSD calls for a revision of the church restitution, while the KDU-CSL opposes this idea.
In November, Sobotka and Zeman started meeting on Thursdays to discuss the progress in the government-forming negotiations.
Sobotka said today he would like to meet Zeman before the end of the year and speak of the possible cabinet lineup with him.
Zeman appoints the members of the government, including prime minister.
Today's meeting with Zeman mostly focused on the programme points of the approved coalition agreement, Sobotka said.
Belobradek presented the position of the KDU-CSL on the government lineup to Zeman. He told him why his party wants to get the Agriculture Ministry.
Belobradek said Zeman would like him as KDU-CSL leader to be a member of the government. Zeman would not mind if he were agriculture minister, Belobradek added.
The KDU-CSL national committee will discuss Sobotka's offer of three ministries for the party, not including agriculture, tonight. The party indicated that it would be considering supporting a minority government rather than participating in it.
The CSSD offered the Christian Democrats the posts of deputy prime minister for human rights and minorities or for science, research and education, of labour and social affairs minister, and of transport or environment minister.
The development in the talks between the CSSD, ANO and the KDU-CSL now depends on the decision of the KDU-CSL national committee.

CTK

SLOVAKIA

Presidential elections in Slovakia set for next March
Bratislava, Dec 19 (CTK) - The first round of the presidential election in Slovakia will be held on March 15, 2014, parliament chairman and deputy chairman of Prime Minister Robert Fico's Smer-Social Democracy Pavol Paska said today.

If none of the candidates gains the required majority of votes, the second round will be held two weeks later.
So far, over 10 politicians and further personalities have announced their presidential bid.
On Wednesday, Fico, leader of Smer-SD, said he would run for the post. The latest poll say Fico is the favourite of the election.
Fico said today in the event of his victory, he would leave his party post.
Under the law, the exact date must be declared at least 55 days before the day of the vote.
The constitution says the post of president is gained in the first round by the candidate who receives at least one half of valid, cast votes.
If none of the candidates gets it, the two candidates with the highest number of votes advance to the second round, that may be held on March 29. In it, the victory will go to the candidate with more votes.
Actor and former culture and foreign minister Milan Knazko has announced the presidential bid as did former businessman Andrej Kiska, parliament deputy Radoslav Prochazka, elected for the Christian Democrats (KDH), KDH deputy Pavol Hrusovsky and former KDH leader and prime minister Jan Carnogursky.
Earlier polls have revealed that someone from the five candidates may challenge Fico in the second, decisive round of the presidential election to which the two most successful candidates advance from the first round.
A trained lawyer, Fico, 49, is considered an excellent rhetorician advocating the rights of lower-income population groups.
Analysts are of the view that Fico is standing the biggest chances of being elected as he is highly popular among the general public and the opposition is split.
Fico told the Radio Express station today that if he won, he would step down as party leader.
"The president cannot be chairman of a political party," Fico said.
The media has speculated that Fico may be replaced with Smer deputy chairman, current Interior Minister Robert Kalinak.
Direct presidential election was introduced in Slovakia in 1999, but in the Czech Republic it was only held for the first time this January.
Current President Ivan Gasparovic is finishing his second, last possible five-year term of office.
CTK
 

 

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Czech lawmakers pass 2014 state budget with 112 billion crown gap,Prague, Dec 19 (CTK) - The Czech Chamber of Deputies today passed the 2014 state budget projecting a deficit of 112 billion crowns, an increase compared with this year's planned gap of 100 billion.

The budget bill will be submitted to President Milos Zeman for signing.The Senate, the upper house parliament, does not vote on state budget bills.In the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, the budget bill was supported by 109 deputies from the nascent government coalition, i.e. the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).Thirty-nine deputies from the right-wing opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and TOP 09 voted against, while the Communist Party (KSCM) and the Dawn of Direct Democracy movement abstained from the vote.

In the final vote today, the lawmakers approved the transfer of about five billion crowns to the government's budget reserve.
On the proposal of the Chamber's budget committee, they added 1.27 billion crowns to the social services, 300 million to the building of schools near big urban agglomerations and 50 million to the pay of regional school staff.
Six million crowns were given to the Culture Ministry to buy the native house of Jan Palach and to turn it into a museum commemorating the late student who is a symbol of Czech resistance to totalitarianism in the late 1960s.
Other proposals for transfers of sums between the budget chapters were turned down.
By the vote today, the lawmakers also changed the budget for 2013 by lowering the projected revenues and expenditures by 4.4 billion crowns each.
This is linked to this year's auction of frequencies, put up by the Czech Telecommunication Office. It was originally to obtain the proceeds from the auction in 2013 but will receive them only next year, which is why this year's budget had to be adjusted accordingly.
This year the Chamber of Deputies had a record short time to pass the government's draft budget for 2014. It approved its basic parameters in first reading on December 6 and passed it definitively today, after a mere 13 days, compared with about 2.5 months which has been usual so far.
Today's final reading, too, was much shorter than usual, taking 1.5 hours.
($1=20.161 crowns)
CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 19 (CTK) - The current dispute between the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) over who will control the Agriculture Ministry in the new coalition cabinet looks dramatically but it will not threaten the cabinet's birth, Petr Honzejk writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

The CSSD will not allow the project of a joint government with ANO and the KDU-CSL to fail, he says. CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka needs the government much more than his ANO and KDU-CSL counterparts, in view of the mainstream CSSD's stay in opposition in the past seven years. The government project's failure would surely topple Sobotka as CSSD head, Honzejk writes.
After all, the leaving of the Agriculture Ministry to the KDU-CSL could not been viewed as a defeat of the CSSD. Sobotka's initial offer to the KDU-CSL (two ministerial seats) was so poor, that even the final outcome, i.e. three ministries probably including the Agriculture Ministry, is a success from the CSSD's point of view, Honzejk writes.
In the several past cabinets, the smallest coalition partner never had only three ministerial seats, he says.
The CSSD's latest argument that if the KDU-CSL controlled the Agriculture Ministry, it would inappropriately help churches acquire more land than what they are entitled to based on the restitution law is not meant quite seriously, Honzejk writes.

The contemptuous behaviour of the Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO towards the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) as the smallest partner in the government-forming talks indicates that the Czech Republic will be governed by the triangle of the CSSD, ANO and President Milos Zeman in the next years, Martin Zverina writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN).
It would not be illegitimate if the two stronger partners struck a bilateral deal, but neither of them has said it loudly, while both depict the KDU-CSL as a partner who seeks ministerial posts voluptuously. However, this is true of all three negotiating partners, Zverina points out.
It is up to the KDU-CSL to decide whether it will allow itself to be humiliated as a junior government partner and whether it will not mind the coalition decisions being jointly made by the CSSD, ANO and Zeman, Zverina writes.
The KDU-CSL should consider whether it is promising for it to play a merely decorative role in the government in exchange for cosy and lucrative posts, Zverina writes.
In any case, behind-the-scene deals and pacts are at variance with the idea of transparent politics, which all political parties vowed to keep to before the elections, Zverina concludes.

The Senate on Wednesday approved another two candidates for Constitutional Court (US)judges and President Milos Zeman can be satisfied as a total of ten candidates whom he proposed succeeded this year and the US has thus become "his" institution, Ludek Navara writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD).
The mandates of the remaining five US judges, who are not Zeman's people, will expire in 2014 and 2015, after which the US will become fully Zeman's, Navara writes.
It is good that new US judges have been chosen promptly and fluently, he says.
On the other hand, however, the practice of a new president choosing the whole US by himself is questionable. Would not it be better if the judges' mandates did not expire all in about the same time, for the sake of the US's continuity, bigger diversity of opinions and also independence? Navara asks.
The situation [with the new president choosing "his" US] threatens to repeat in ten years, he says.
Let's hope it will not repeat completely. US chairman Pavel Rychetsky should keep his promise and step down early, Navara writes.
CTK

President Zeman commemorates late Vaclav Havel
Prague, Dec 18 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman commemorated Vaclav Havel, dissident and the first post-communist Czechoslovak and Czech head of state, who died exactly two years ago, at his grave at the Prague-Vinohrady cemetery today.

Zeman, Czech PM in 1998-2002, said his cooperation with Havel was based on arguments and discussions and this is why it was very valuable and interesting.
Zeman laid two wreaths with ribbons reading "Milos Zeman" and "president" at Havel's grave.
On this occasion Zeman also recollected Havel's speech at a mass anticommunist demonstration in Prague in November 1989.
Zeman's predecessor Vaclav Klaus (2003-2013) showed respect for Havel in the same way last year.
People were bringing flowers and lighting candles at Havel's grave the whole day to commemorate the two-year anniversary of his death.
The grave was also covered with the wreaths from his widow Dagmar, outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok and the Senate.
Events in memory of Havel were staged all over the Czech Republic as well as abroad today.
Prague Archbishop Cardinal Dominik Duka celebrated a requiem mass for Havel at the Prague Crossroads in St Anne Church in Prague centre tonight.
"Vaclav Havel is not with us any more but I am convinced that he is present in our hearts and in the life of this country. He contributed to its freedom and sovereignty," Duka said.
Havel's second wife Dagmar asked Duka to celebrate the mass. She attended it with her daughter Nina, along with Vaclav Havel's brother Ivan, the nuns of the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo order, who were looking after the sick Havel, architect, designer and Havel's friend Borek Sipek and Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09), former head of Havel's Presidential Office.
During the mass, Duka greeted the free young generation via TV cameras. In 1989, it was exactly the then young generation that enabled Havel to become the head of a sovereign state and to help build its grounds, Duka recalled.
In his sermon Duka was unusually critical of the current situation in the Czech Republic. He expressed fears of the future of the country that Havel loved.
"In the past two years we witnessed a lot of chaos, unexpected changes as well as disappointment," Duka said, reminding of Havel's slogan "We Are Not Like Them" (hinting at the proponets of Communists regime).
"We will never be like them, Vaclav. Amen," Duka concluded.
It took place in St Anne church where Havel's coffin lay in state for two days in 2011 before it was carried in a mourning procession, attended by ten of thousands of people, to Prague Castle, the presidential seat.
An evening in memory of Vaclav Havel and his friend, U.S. songwriter and musician Lou Reed, who died in late October, was held tonight in the Archa Theatre in Prague. It was followed by a rock concert.
Besides, many people laid candles, red paper hearts and small Tibetan flags outside Havel's cottage in Hradecek, east Bohemia, where he died.
The Facebook activity from last year was revived as well, calling on people to roll up their trousers as a reminiscence of Havel's first inauguration in the presidential post in December 1989 when he was wearing a too short pair of trousers.
A cafe in Katowice, Poland, reacted to the call and it also asked the visitors who would come to the reading from Havel's text tonight to roll up their trousers.
Havel (1936-2011), playwright, thinker and dissident, was the last Czechoslovak and the first Czech president (in office 1989-2003). After he left the post he primarily focused on the promotion of human rights in the world. He died on December 18, 2011, aged 75 years.
CTK

Czech government rejects effort to abolish lustration laws
Prague, Dec 18 (CTK) - The outgoing Czech government today rejected the Communists' (KSCM) effort to abolish the lustration (screening) laws as well as the KSCM's proposal that the new Civil Code's validity be postponed by one year, the cabinet has announced on its website.

The lustration laws from 1991 bar former secret police (StB) agents and collaborators, Communist Party (KSC) high-ranking officials and members of the KSC para-military People's Militia from holding high posts in the civil service, the judiciary, the military and other spheres.
The cabinet of Jiri Rusnok expressed a negative stance on the proposed abolition of the lustration laws from 1991, on the basis of the previous opinion of the Constitutional Court (US). The US concluded that the laws were not at variance with the rule of law principles and that they could to a certain extent replace the still lacking civil service law.
According to the Communists the "big and small" lustration laws were adopted as temporary legal measures that have lost their sense.
The lustration law and a screening certificate became hot issues after President Milos Zeman said he would demand that the members of the future government submit a negative lustration certificate.
This could be a problem for billionaire Andrej Babis, head of the ANO movement, a potential government partner of the Social Democrats (CSSD) and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
Babis, candidate for finance minister and deputy PM, is registered as an StB informer and later an agent in the StB files. He, however, denies any cooperation with it, claiming that the documents were fabricated.
Zeman then said it would suffice if the Chamber of Deputies started debating the civil service bill.
The government today also expressed disagreement with the postponement of the Civil Code's effect.
KCSM deputies justify the proposal saying they would like to give judges, defence lawyers and the public enough time to get acquainted with the new code.
However, the parliament would most probably not manage to debate the KSCM-proposed bill by the end of the year.
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Fico's presidency would afflict Slovakia's political system-press. Prague, Dec 19 (CTK) - Slovakia has entered an unknown and very difficult area with Prime Minister Robert Fico's decision to run for president next year, and it would be a small miracle if it emerged unscathed from the adventure, Lubos Palata writes in Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.

On Wednesday, Fico, 49, whose Smer-Social Democracy prevails in Slovak parliament and forms the country's one-party cabinet, said he would seek presidency in the direct election in spring 2014.
Fico's decision will benefit him but not Slovakia, Palata writes.
Fico's advantage is that he can use his post of prime minister in the presidential campaign. On Wednesday, he did not indicate even the slightest possibility of stepping down as prime minister before being elected president, Palata writes.
This, however, is nothing compared with the swing the Slovak political system would experience if Fico became president, Palata writes.
With Fico's election, not only all three main constitutional posts in the country would concentrate in the hands of a single party, Smer-SD, Palata writes, referring to the posts of the president, prime minister and parliament head.
A more serious problem is that the presidential post, with a relatively weak position under the Slovak constitution, may be occupied by a politician who is the far most distinguished politician of Smer-SD, Palata writes.
True, Smer-SD is not a one-man party, but Fico founded it 15 years ago and he has been its undisputable leader since, Palata writes.
It would be naive to expect Fico to leave his very dominant position at the helm of the party, government and the whole Slovak political scene to anyone else or to share it with anyone else at least, Palata points out.
That is why Fico's election as president would either require rewriting the constitution, or Fico would simply remain a dominant representative of the governing leftist wing regardless of the official parameters of the presidential post, Palata continues.
A cleaner solution would be to rewrite the Slovak constitution and to tailor it for Fico, but this is hardly imaginable in view of the present balance of political forces. Besides, this solution implies a certain danger, Palata writes.
A far worse alternative, however, is the prospect of Smer-SD being a "presidential party" and the prime minister an unimportant figure, he says.
Slovakia, which could be considered the stablest and best faring of the Visegrad Four countries, which also comprise the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, has with Fico's presidential candidacy stepped on an unknown, extremely difficult soil. It would be a small political miracle if it escaped unscathed, Palata concludes.
CTK

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 18 (CTK) - The first meeting of a commission initiated by the Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO, also comprising church negotiators and aimed to debate possible changes to the church restitution rules, showed that the CSSD strives for nothing but propaganda, Martin Zverina writes in Lidove noviny (LN) today.

CSSD deputy head Alena Gajduskova asserts that the CSSD seeks the truth, but she is totally unwilling to admit that churches' arguments may persuade the CSSD that the restitution rules are just, Zverina writes.
Gajduskova even openly said on Czech Radio that for the CSSD it is the most important what impression its efforts will make on the public. Only fear of a possible wave of court disputes discourages the CSSD from wanting to scrap the church restitution completely, Zverina writes.
The question is to what extent the CSSD negotiators are silly and to what extent they are only uninformed when they fail to realise how advantageous the settling of property relations between the state and churches will be - mainly in view of the parallel process of the separation of churches from the state, Zverina writes.

The Czech police's dual presidency comparable with the medieval papal schism continues and it should probably be solved by a gentlemen's agreement between the two police heads, Jakub Pokorny writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.
The schism is to blame on former interior minister Jan Kubice who disliked then police head Petr Lessy, eagerly sought a pretext for sacking him, finally did so in 2012 over the launch of Lessy's rather untrustworthy prosecution for slander, and installed Martin Cervicek in the top police post, Pokorny writes, recalling that the court exonerated Lessy who has been re-instated in the post by Kubice's successor.
Kubice should not have sacked Lessy but he should have only taken him off duty and asked a deputy minister to head the ministry pending a court decision, Pokorny writes.
President Milos Zeman has suggested that a new competition for police president be launched. If so, however, it may happen that the Czech Republic will have even three police heads instead of current two, Pokorny writes.
On the other hand, the big papal schism in 1417, too, ended only with the election of a completely new pope, Martin V. At the time, too, there were three popes at the helm of the church, Pokorny writes.
He says a gentlemen's agreement should be struck between Cervicek and Lessy, with one remaining police head and appointing the other his deputy.

In Pravo, Anna Durnova criticises the proposal by the Czech lower house's budget committee that the budget of the Grant Agency, the only Czech institution that finances basic research, be reduced by 58 million crowns next year.
The proposal illustrates the lawmakers' failure to understand how science functions. Its implementation may liquidate the agency which is crucial for the development and prospects of Czech science, Durnova writes.
Moreover, the proposal confirms again that the Czech politicians celebrate science and research and watch foreign advanced scientific institutions with envy, but simultaneously particular state bodies do their utmost to shun science financing and pass the task on each other, Durnova writes.
According to Grant Agency's head Petr Mateju, the budget cut would probably afflict the programmes designed for financing research projects prepared by young scientists, Durnova writes.
Critics often reproach Czech science for lagging behind the international competitors and failing to produce young scientists with managerial skills. The budget committee, with its proposal, in fact laughs at Czech researchers' effort to catch up with their foreign counterparts and mainly indicates that in the Czech Republic, young scientists' skills to plan grant-subsidised projects is of no use at all, Durnova writes.
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CTK

ANO likely to push for Telicka as new Czech EU commissioner-press
Prague, Dec 18 (CTK) - The Czech potential government parties have not yet debated who the new Czech EU commissioner should be but the second-strongest of them, ANO, might want the post to go to lobbyist Pavel Telicka, judging by ANO leader Andrej Babis's words the daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) cites today.

ANO, a new movement headed by agricultural and chemical magnate Babis, ended strong second in the October general election and has an influential position in the nascent coalition that also includes the election-winning Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
Nevertheless, Babis's possible promotion of Telicka might meet with the coalition partners' resistance, the daily writes.
The coalition will have to choose its candidate for the Czech EC member by the EU elections due in May 2014.
"Pavel Telicka would definitely be an excellent candidate for EU commissioner," Babis told HN.
In the early 2000s, the then diplomat Telicka negotiated about the Czech Republic's entry into the EU and subsequently he became the first Czech EU commissioner for a couple of months before being replaced by Vladimir Spidla (Social Democrats, CSSD), who had stepped down as prime minister in the meantime.
Telicka, 48, is now returning to politics as ANO's number one candidate in the EU elections. He says he wants to bring ANO to the EP's ALDE liberal faction, the paper continues.
An election success would raise his chance of becoming a new commissioner after Stefan Fuele, the present Czech commissioner in charge of EU enlargement, HN writes.
However, the CSSD and the KDU-CSL dislike Telicka's recent career as a lobbyist, the paper continues, adding that Telicka headed the BXL Consulting company in the past eight years. His clients included giants like Microsoft, RWE and Transgas, as well as public institutions and firms such as the Prague City Hall and CD Cargo rail transport company.
Now he is closing BXL Consulting down, but the CSSD and the KDU-CSL seem to consider this guarantee insufficient, the paper says.
"It is not correct for the post of commissioner to go to someone who runs business in the European Union branch," Cyril Svoboda, the KDU-CSL's expert in foreign affairs, is quoted as saying.
"As a tobacco lobbyist, Mr Telicka should not have a chance to make it through the screening in the EP, it is meaningless to discuss the idea," said CSSD senator Jiri Dienstbier, who might lead the CSSD in the EU elections unless he did not become a minister now.
A new Czech EU commissioner will be chosen by the government.
EU countries do not lustrate each other's candidates, who, nevertheless, may face troubles while in the EP that will examine not only their competence but also a possible threat of a clash of interests on their part, HN writes.
From the Czech point of view, Telicka's advantage is that he has valuable connexions in the EU, the paper continues.
ANO might gain the main say in the coalition's choice of a new commissioner because the CSSD seems to seek the post of foreign minister and, in addition, it will supervise the European agenda through the Government Office subordinate to CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka as the probable future prime minister, HN says.
Another names mentioned as possible future Czech EU commissioner are the outgoing foreign minister Jan Kohout, a member of the CSSD who is also close to President Milos Zeman, and Lubomir Zaoralek, CSSD deputy chairman who might go to the EC if Zeman refused to appoint him foreign minister, the daily says.
CTK
 

Two thirds of Czechs say pension system must change - poll
Prague, Dec 17 (CTK) - Almost two thirds of Czechs believe that it is necessary to change the pension system, with 27 percent saying the change is definitely necessary and 45 percent thinking it is rather needed, according to the results of a CVVM public opinion poll conducted in November and released now.

"Compared with December 2012, when the same question was asked in a poll for the last time, the opinion that a change of the current pension system is needed has markedly increased (by 15 percentage points), to the detriment of both the opposite opinion, in which a decrease of 9 percentage points was registered, and the share of undecided replies that declined by 6 percentage points," CVVM said.
People who prefer the principle of merit to the solidarity one being applied in the pension system spoke more frequently for a change (85 percent) than those who prefer the solidarity principle (66 percent).
Those who consider the pension system unjust are more convinced of the need of a change (89 percent).
Those in favour of a change are mainly university graduates, and specialist and managing workers with high qualifications.
The age of 60 years is the most frequently preferred retirement age. It was supported by almost two fifths of the polled.
Further more frequently mentioned ages were 62 years (11 percent), 65 years (10 percent), 55 years (9 percent), 58 years (8 percent) and 63 years (7 percent).
In total, 27 percent of the polled mentioned an age lower than 60 years.
The retirement age is now being gradually increased to 65 years for men, childless women and mothers of one child, and 62 to 64 for women with a higher number of children as from 2030.
CTK

Czechs support launch of EU-Serbia accession talks - official
Brussels, Dec 17 (CTK) - The Czech Republic supports the launch of the EU-Serbia accession negotiations, Czech First Deputy Foreign Minister Jiri Schneider told CTK on the margins of a meeting of the EU member countries' diplomacy representatives today.

A long debate is expected to be held on the possibility of starting the talks today and it is not sure whether the date of the launch of the negotiations with Belgrade will be set.
"Our stand is clear. We can see no reason for not launching the talks with Serbia as quickly as possible," Schneider said.
The EU will probably praise particularly the "big progress" Serbia has made with the EU's contribution in the difficult negotiations with Kosovo.
Schneider said the fears of some EU countries of opening the talks with Serbia could be moderated by the fact that the key chapters on the need of the rule of law in a country aspiring for membership should be opened among the first.
This will make it possible to continuously monitor Serbia's progress in this respect.
"The opening of the negotiating process offers scope for a better and more positive influencing of the situation in Serbia," Schneider said.
An absolute majority of Serbs support their country's EU entry according to public opinion polls, but the EU does not enjoy any great popularity among them.
CTK
 

SLOVAKIA

Slovak police investigated over brutality in Romany settlement
Bratislava, Dec 17 (CTK) - The Slovak prosecutor's office has ordered an investigation into the June police action in a Romany settlement in eastern Slovakia over what Romanies and NGOs call police brutality, spokeswoman Andrea Predajnova said today.

The police who took part in the action may be prosecuted, Predajnova said.
The police insist on the correctness of their steps. They say they did not find any fault on their own part.
Activists say tens of members of a special police team were sent to the shanty town in Moldava nad Bodvou in order to make some home searches.
They called the action inordinate, arguing that the police behaved aggressively to the locals some of whom had to be medically treated.
Amnesty International and the European Roma Rights Centre have called for an investigation into the police action.
The Interior Ministry inspection did not find any fault on the part of police. However, the prosecutor's office now adopted a different attitude to the police action.
"The general prosecutor's office has arrived at the conclusion that there is a reason to start criminal prosecution," Predajnova said, without elaborating.
The Interior Ministry said it respected the steps taken by the prosecutor's office.
It said the original information that tens of persons and a child had been injured was not confirmed.
The Slovak police did not make any mistake in the June action in a Romany shanty town in eastern Slovakia and the use of law enforcement means against seven people from it was rightful, Interior Minister Robert Kalinak said after the action.
Referring to the Romanies' testimonies, the Slovak media wrote earlier that the police action may have been connected with a previous conflict in which the shanty town's residents damaged a police van.
The police have denied the account, saying the search for wanted people had been planned beforehand.
After its end, the police detained 15 persons, seven of whom over minor delicts and suspicion of a criminal act.
CTK

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 17 (CTK) - Czech-Slovak relations are more influenced by the results of the ice hockey games between the two countries than by the person of the Czech ambassador to Bratislava,
Jindrich Sidlo writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today in relation the new ambassador Livia Klausova.

Former Czech first lady Klausova who officially took the post on Monday is nothing but a symbol, Sidlo writes.
Sidlo says she is a symbol of friendly family help and power that President Milos Zeman wanted to show soon after his inauguration.
Zeman succeeded in pushing Klausova through as ambassador against the will of former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg.
Now Zeman is trying to influence the choice of the next Czech foreign minister and the price for winning the post, Sidlo writes.

Lubos Palata says in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) that Klausova should have been a lady but she is only a person winning a senior post in exchange for her services.
Klausova was the first lady for ten years during the presidential mandate of her husband and she was respected even by many Czechs who did not like president Klaus very much, Palata writes.
But when she told the TV cameras during the campaign before the direct presidential election last winter that would like the next Czech first lady to speak only German, she attacked the wife of Karel Schwarzenberg, Zeman's rival, Palata recalls.
Klausova even challenged Schwarzenberg's relation to his homeland, he adds.
Her statements were not only undiplomatic but also stupid. Moreover, there were not necessary because her husband and her son Vaclav Klaus Jr backed Zeman so strongly that no more support was needed, Palata says.
It is a shame that Klausova does not represent Czechs in Slovakia as a lady but as Zeman's protege, he concludes.

It is noteworthy that President Zeman declared that a president should not influence the government lineup in summer after he made Jiri Rusnok prime minister, but now he claims that the president of course has to be interested in the lineup, Antonin Rasek writes in Pravo.
Rusnok, head of the outgoing caretaker cabinet, has been considered Zeman's puppet by many. Potential next prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) repeatedly clashed with Zeman.
Rasek says Zeman does not like CSSD politicians Jiri Dienstbier, Lubomir Zaoralek and Vladimir Spidla who are candidates for justice, foreign and environment ministers, respectively.
Should Sobotka give up his colleagues and rule the country with a B-team? Rasek asks.
CTK

Czech churches, parties agree on transparent restitution
Prague, Dec 17 (CTK) - Representatives of churches and the future Czech government coalition parties, the Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO, today agreed on the transparent execution of the church property return on the basis of the restitution law, Senate deputy head Alena Gajduskova (CSSD) has told reporters.

The churches and religious organisations will discuss the parties' particular demands at a meeting in January.
The CSSD and ANO movement would like to lower the financial compensation for the churches' property that cannot be returned and change the inflation clause to the compensation.
Besides, they are considering setting up a government working group to monitor the process of the return of the churches' property confiscated by the communist regime.
The third coalition partner, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), are against changes to the restitution law.
"We have agreed that we will agree on all matters connected with the implementation of the law on the state-churches settlement to be transparent and open in terms of information," Gajduskova said after the first meeting of the churches and parties' representatives held in the Senate today.
The next meeting would be held on church grounds.
The churches' representatives should submit its background documents in support of the restitution law at the second meeting, Czech Bishops' Conference general secretary Tomas Holub said.
The CSSD representative should prove the rightful character of their demands and argue why the law is viewed as not completely just towards other restitution claimants.
"The churches have a feeling that everything is as it should be, we have a slightly different opinion. We must submit figures and facts," Gajduskova said.
ANO deputy chairman Martin Stropnicky said the talks should be correct to be able to reach agreement.
The participants in the talks reiterated that a possible change to the restitution law would have to be result of a bilateral agreement.
Under the law on state-church property settlement, which was pushed through by the then right-wing cabinet and took effect in January, 16 churches are to get back over the next 30 years some real estate confiscated from them in 1948-1989, worth 75 billion crowns, plus 59 billion in compensation for unreturned property that is to be raised by inflation. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
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CTK

President Zeman tries to make his man foreign minister - press
Prague, Dec 17 (CTK) - President Milos Zeman wants to influence the choice of next Czech foreign minister in order to have the main say in the selection of ambassadors who are crucial for his concept of economic diplomacy, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes today, quoting a source close to the Presidential Office.

The leaders of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) launched their talks on the lineup of their future government on Monday. Zeman says some candidates for ministers may be unacceptable to him.
The paper says Zeman wants to have his man, or somebody who could be easily influenced, at the helm of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
"The nomination of Hynek Kmonicek for foreign minister would be ideal," a source close to the Presidential Office told LN.
Kmonicek now heads the foreign affairs section of the Presidential Office and he is a CSSD member.
Potential prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) is resolutely against Kmonicek's nomination and he wants his party colleague Lubomir Zaoralek to be foreign minister, the paper writes.
Sobotka told parliament on Monday that two cabinet members should deal with the foreign policy - the prime minister who primarily focuses on EU affairs and the foreign minister.
But LN writes that if Sobotka accepted Kmonicek as foreign minister, Zeman might be willing to appoint to the cabinet CSSD politicians and Sobotka's allies whom he does not like in exchange.
Moreover, Zaoralek might get the post of deputy prime minister for EU affairs, which would be good for Sobotka as Zaoralek, one of Sobotka's key allies in the CSSD, would counterweight ANO leader Andrej Babis who is to be deputy PM for economy, the paper writes.
But this alternative would bring the problem of Czech foreign policy being controlled from two centres promoting different concepts. It existed in the past few years when the pro-EU foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) and the rather Eurosceptic prime minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) fought for their powers in foreign policy, LN writes.
Zeman has had bad relations with Sobotka, Zaoralek, CSSD shadow justice minister Jiri Dienstbier and CSSD shadow environment minister Vladimir Spidla for a long time. Zeman was CSSD leader in the 1990s but he left the party in 2007. He still has a lot of supporters among the Social Democrats.
Zeman opposed the idea of Dienstbier being justice minister, however, Dienstbier might be a minister in charge of the Government Legislative Council, LN writes.
Zeman also said actor and former diplomat Martin Stropnicky (ANO) should not be defence minister, but the paper writes that Stropnicky would not be a bad candidate.
Constitutional lawyers addressed by CTK said previously the president can reject a candidate for minister only in very serious cases such as if he is a foreign power's agent. But Zeman insisted that he had the right to reject the candidates and tell the reasons only to the prime minister.
Zeman and Sobotka are to meet on Thursday to discuss the coalition talks and the names of ministers may be already dealt with. Sobotka said he would like the government lineup to be agreed on by the end of the year.
"Sobotka will do his utmost to push through Zaoralek to show that he is strong enough," a CSSD politician requesting anonymity told the paper.
According to LN, the Interior Ministry might be led by Milan Chovanec (CSSD), the Justice Ministry by Helena Valkova (ANO), the Industry and Trade Ministry by Jan Mladek (CSSD), the Education Ministry by Marcel Chladek (CSSD), the Local Development Ministry by Vera Jourova (ANO) and the Culture Ministry by Daniel Herman (KDU-CSL).
As most of the regional governors are CSSD politicians, the Social Democrats want to be in charge of most of the ministries that are crucial for the regions - the health, labour and transport ministries, LN says.
The sharpest fight seems to be over the Agriculture Ministry, the paper writes.
ANO decided not to require the post to avoid a conflict of interest as its leader, billionaire Babis, owns the Agrofert Holding farming, food-processing and chemical group, LN says.
The agriculture minister supervises the State Land Office that is deciding on the return of confiscated property within the church restitution law, on which the CSSD and the KDU-CSL take very different stances. While the Social Democrats want the law to be revised, the KDU-CSL is against any change in the restitution that started in January, the paper writes.
CTK

Czech parties do not agree on ministries in nascent cabinet
Prague, Dec 16 (CTK) - Representatives of the Czech Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO movement and Christian Democrats did not agree on the division of ministries in the government that is being formed, CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka, probable next prime minister, told journalists after their talks today.

Sobotka said two alternatives were still being considered, but did not elaborate.
He said the new government should have two deputy chairmen, to be filled by ANO and the KDU-CSL.
The talks are to continue on Wednesday, Sobotka said.
Sobotka said in the afternoon the government might have 17 members, with a minimum of deputy prime ministers and ministers without portfolio.
"I would like to have the agreement finished by the end of the week so that we could start talking about specific names at individual ministers," said Sobotka who would like to submit a proposal to name the government to President Milos Zeman by the end of the year.
According to unofficial information, the CSSD may occupy eight seats in the government, ANO seven and KDU-CSL two. However, the latter demand more seats or the post of agriculture minister, which is their priority.
KDU-CSL leader Pavel Belobradek said it had been usual in the past that even the smallest coalition partner filled some ministry with "force agenda" (interior or defence) or with economic agenda such as finance ministry.
"As the offer by the (CSSD) was not presented in this way, we will negotiate," Belobradek said before the meeting.
He repeated that the Christian Democrats would not play any undignified role in the coalition.
Jaroslav Faltynek, head of the ANO deputy group, said he was against Christian Democrats filling the post of agriculture minister.
Last week, the coalition parties agreed on the programme part of the coalition pact..
CTK

Czech MPs send draft 2014 budget to final reading, propose shifts
Prague, Dec 16 (CTK) - The Czech Chamber of Deputies sent a draft 2014 state budget to the third, final reading today, with lawmakers proposing to shift some 20 billion crowns between particular chapters, giving more money to social services, transport infrastructure or teachers' salaries.

Another shifts worth 6.7 billion crowns were proposed by the budget committee of the lower house of parliament on Friday.
The 2014 draft budget counts with revenues at 1,093 billion crowns and spendings at 1,211.3 billion crowns. The deficit would be 12 billion crowns higher than this year.
The lawmakers are to make a decision on all proposals and the budget as a whole on Thursday.
Communist (KCM) lawmaker Marta Semelova, for instance, proposed to add 2.4 billion crowns to social services from the money for the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR).
She also demanded one billion crowns more for teachers' salaries.
The deputy group of the civic Democrats (ODS), former government senior party, now in opposition, wants to give teachers 1.5 billion crowns more and to raise the science budget by 1.3 billion crowns.
The Social Democrat (CSSD) deputy and Karlovy Vary regional governor, Josef Novotny, proposed to add 350 million crowns to regional cultural facilities.
The lower house's budget committee wants to take 3.5 billion crowns from a part of overhead costs of particular chapters and to shift the sum to the government budget reserve.
It wants another 1.5 billion crowns to move from state guarantees to the reserve.
TOP 09 deputy group chairman Miroslav Kalousek, former finance minister, did not like this. He said today with the shifts the lawmakers give up their right to control the money because the government can handle the government reserve without their control.
He proposed that all money in the reserve above the law-set level be concentrated in a new budget item called "freezing expenditures to secure a lower than the projected deficit."
($1=20.061 crowns)
CTK

 

 

 

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 16 (CTK) - It seems evident from the beginning that the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) take a reserved stance on forming coalition project with the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the ANO movement, Petr Fischer writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

The KDU-CSL has bad experience with seeking to be part of Czech governments, Fischer writes.
He said the Christian Democrats paid dearly for this strategy of remaining in government at any cost in the past - they disintegrated and failed to enter parliament in the previous election term.
The fact that KDU-CSL chairman Pavel Belobradek went abroad for two weeks during the government-forming talks is clear evidence of the party's reserved stance, Fischer writes.

Elsewhere in HN Petr Fischer writes that the potential coalition partners started negotiating about the government lineup and some ministries are very popular, while others are not.
Nobody wants to head the Culture Ministry, which has an annual budget of roughly ten billion crowns, while all want to be in charge of agriculture and local development as huge EU subsidies flow through these two ministries, Fischer says.

Martina Riebauerova says in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) that none of the three coalition partners seems eager to control the Health Ministry and the Christian Democrats were even offended by the offer.
She writes that the Health Ministry means interesting and important work but many problems, such as disputes with patients and doctors and a lack of money.
The health minister has to answer question like Why do you let Czech doctors move to do their work abroad? This ministry is for no weakling, Riebauerova says.

The CSSD, ANO and the KDU-CSL are surprisingly moving towards a coalition government and harmony has been prevailing over chaos, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in Pravo, referring to the CSSD and KDU-CSL meetings that approved the coalition programme this weekend.
It is noteworthy that the Social Democrats who faced a serious rift shortly after the election appear to be the most reliable partner - at least now, Mitrofanov says.

Stanislav Balik writes in Lidove noviny (LN) that the parties of the forming coalition government seem to have moved from the honeymoon period directly to a time of a married life routine.
Balik says rivalry, jealousy, nervousness or even hatred can be seen.
Partnerships are usually motivated by love or pragmatism, but the current Czech coalition seems to be neither of the cases - the CSSD, ANO and the KDU-CSL found out that their cooperation seems the most acceptable alternative, Balik writes.
Their attitude to the joint project is therefore far from enthusiastic, Balik says.
($1=20.061 crowns)
CTK

Czech Land Office to check past of some religious orders-press
Prague, Dec 16 (CTK) - The Czech Land Office has had 11 religious orders and one bishopric checked in archives over the church restitution to find out whether they did not lose their property on the basis of the post-war Benes decrees, the daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes today.

The office has suspended the return of real estate to these religious entities. It concerns a total of 150 applications filed within the law on return of the churches' property confiscated by the communist regime (1948-89), the paper writes, referring to Land Office director Petr Stovicek.
"We have made a fundamental decision and asked the National Archive and the Archive of the Agriculture Ministry for a thorough search for then historical data," Stovicek told LN.
He recalled that the confiscation under the Benes decrees would mean an insuperable obstacle to the property return.
The Benes decrees provided for the confiscation of the property of collaborators, traitors, ethnic Germans and Hungarians, except for those who themselves suffered under the Nazis. They also formed a basis for the transfer of the former groups from Czechoslovakia.
The Land Office is checking 12 entities, while three of them only preventively since they have not filed applications for property return yet.
Apart from the well known cases from the media, such as the Order of Malta demanding land near Prague and the German Order, successor to the Teutonic Knights, seeking the return of Bouzov Castle, north Moravia, the office is looking into the requests of the Premonstratensians from Tepla, west Bohemia, and the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star who have asked for plots in Prague.
Both the state and the churches expect the checks to lead to court disputes since the religious orders do not want to accept such a delay in the restitution process, LN writes.
Under the law, which the Czech Chamber of Deputies passed last November, churches are to be returned land and real estate, confiscated from them by the communist regime, worth 75 billion and given 59 billion crowns plus inflation in financial compensation for unreturned property during the following 30 years. The largest sum, 47 billion crowns, would go to the Roman Catholic Church.
Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
The Social Democrats (CSSD) and the ANO movement, which are negotiating about a future government, would like to lower the sum. However, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), the potential third coalition partner, are opposed to it.
($1=20.061 crowns)
CTK

Czech president blames himself for SPOZ election failure
Prague, Dec 16 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman blames mainly himself for the election debacle of the Party of Citizens' Rights - the Zemanites (SPOZ) whose honorary chairman he is, he has said in an interview for Nova commercial TV.

"If this failure had been caused by the SPOZ's leaders in particular regions, there would have been considerably different results in the regions. Since this was not the case, then the failure had a common cause, a common denominator, and I suppose that I myself am the cause," Zeman, 69, said in a Nova programme on Sunday night without elaborating.
Shortly after the last-October early general election, in which the SPOZ gained about 1.5 percent of the vote, which is far below the 5-percent threshold to enter parliament, Zeman said the president's support to some party used to be "the kiss of death" for it.
He told public Czech Television (CT) then that the SPOZ should not rely on the president's support only but it should stand on its own two feet.
In the Sunday interview for Nova, Zeman also reiterated that the candidates for ministers should be well versed in the sectors they were to head.
He added that he was prepared to help Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman and potential PM Bohuslav Sobotka with his government to be successful.
However, Zeman refused to assess Sobotka's outlooks in this respect. He only recalled that Sobotka had never been head of government and that only the execution of this post would show whether he would manage it.
Sobotka wants to form a coalition government of his CSSD, which won the late-October general election with 20.5 percent of the vote, ANO, which ended second with 18.7 percent, and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL; 6.8 percent). They together command a majority of 111 votes in the 200-seat lower house.
Asked about doctors' recommendations to reduce alcohol consumption as well as smoking over his diabetes, Zeman said he had no problem to reduce alcohol consumption but it was difficult to smoke less.
He follows the doctors' recommendations lowering the number of cigarettes to 20 a day, but he compensates the lack of nicotine by smoking cigars and a pipe, Zeman said, adding that the doctors did not mention cigars and pipe at all.
CTK

Czech Christian Democrats approve coalition agreement
Prague, Dec 15 (CTK) - The Czech Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) national conference approved the coalition agreement with the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the ANO movement by a majority of votes but not unanimously today, KDU-CSL chairman Pavel Belobradek has told reporters.

However, this does not mean that the KDU-CSL is entering the coalition, he stressed.
The KDU-CSL will demand the Agriculture Ministry in the future government.
The programme and procedural part of the coalition agreement was submitted to the parties.
"This does not mean that we are entering the coalition since the possible division of forces in the government still has to be completed in the procedural part," Belobradek, who returned from the United States, said.
The talks of the three parties' chairmen on the division of ministerial posts and personnel issues will start on Monday afternoon.
The Christian Democrats criticised the first proposal that they should head only two ministries. They would like to have three.
The conference did not say two posts would suffice, Belobradek said. "It will depend on the number of seats in the government," he noted.
Earlier today, the KDU-CSL presidium unanimously recommended that the party's national conference approve the coalition agreement. Then the KDU-CSL national committee and conference debated the draft.
The committee agreed that the Christian Democrats should demand the heading of the Agriculture Ministry as a priority, Belobradek said.
The KDU-CSL conference took note of the committee's demand.
However, ANO does not like this demand.
"We need a majority parliamentary system," ANO head Andrej Babis wrote to CTK in reaction to it.
ANO deputy group head Jaroslav Faltynek is of the view that the CSSD should head the Agriculture Ministry since it participated in the negotiations about conditions for farmers in Brussels.
"The KDU-CSL was not there, it knows nothing about it." Faltynek wrote to CTK.
Asked who would occupy the post of agriculture minister, Belobradek said it would depend on what other ministries his party would get, but that he, Jurecka and senator Petr Silar were taken into consideration.
Belobradek praised the hard work on the programme part of the coalition agreement, but he said it still included certain controversial points. "We will definitely negotiate about them," he said.
Some voices from the KDU-CSL say the government programme and personnel issues cannot be separated.
However, Belobradek said the agreement on the programme must be reached first before the filling of ministerial posts can be debated.
According to the original draft, the KDU-CSL was to head the health and culture ministries. However, the KDU-CSL leadership insists on three posts. Besides, it prefers other sectors.
Besides, CSSD spokesman Bohuslav Sobotka mentioned health and transport among the CSSD's priorities on Saturday.
Belobradek said the programme part of the coalition agreement reflected most of the Christian Democrat programme priorities.
Jurecka recalled that the KDU-CSL had failed to push through the preservation of the fee for hospitalisation and a joint taxation of married couples.
The CSSD central executive committee as expected approved the coalition agreement on Saturday. The ANO movement of billionaire Andrej Babis will deal with it at the beginning of next week.
The CSSD, which won the late-October general election with 20.5 percent of the vote, ANO, which ended second with 18.7 percent, and the Christian Democrats (6.8 percent), who returned to the Chamber of Deputies after three years, together command a majority of 111 votes in the 200-seat lower house.
CTK

CzechRep and other V4 states concerned by Ukrainian developments
Kiev/Prague, Dec 12 (CTK) - The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia follow "with great concern" the recent developments in Ukraine and they consider the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators unacceptable, foreign ministers from the Visegrad Four (VR) group said in a joint statement today.

In Ukraine, demonstrators have for two weeks protested against the country leadership's decision not to sign an EU association agreement. The police have repeatedly intervened against the protesters.
Those responsible for the police brutality should be held accountable, the V4 ministers said.
"The Foreign Ministers highlight their deep belief that the right of the people to demonstrate and express their opinion peacefully is one of the basic principles of the OSCE and the Eastern Partnership, which should be respected," the statement says.
The ministers further call on all parties to refrain from violence.
They call on the Ukrainian authorities to launch a prompt investigation against those responsible for brutality against peaceful demonstrators.
"The ministers also urge the Ukrainian authorities to release all those who have been arrested without any evidence of violating the law," they say.
They urge Ukrainian politicians to seek a solution through dialogue involving representatives of the government, civil society and the opposition.
They call for European Union mediation between the parties.
"The Visegrad countries reconfirm their position voiced at the Vilnius Summit that the door remains open for Ukraine to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union as soon as our Ukrainian partners will be able and ready to do so," says the statement of the Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak foreign ministers, Jan Kohout, Janos Martonyi, Radoslaw Sikorski and Miroslav Lajcak.
CTK


 

 

 

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 14 (CTK) - The participation of the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) in the nascent Czech government is crucial for Social Democrat (CSSD) head and potential PM Bohuslav Sobotka as the KDU-CSL's departure for opposition would mean his end, Martin Zverina writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today.

On the other hand, Andrej Babis, leader of the ANO movement, the third coalition partner, does not need the Christian Democrats and he can anytime replace them with the populist Dawn of Direct Democracy or any other "negotiable entity" in the Chamber of Deputies, Zverina adds.
Nevertheless, a coalition kept afloat by Tomio Okamura's Dawn or the Communists (KSCM) would be a hell for the CSSD and Sobotka's opponents in the party would definitely start to act.
This is why the unfortunate Sobotka can do nothing but meet the KDU-CSL's demands, Zverina says.
He recalls that the Christian Democrats have already given up their key programme issue, the joint taxation of married couples, and this is why they need some compensation.
Moreover, Sobotka should rather rely on the Christian Democrats than on ANO whose experience with the executive is negligible, Zverina writes.

"The coalition soap opera," Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in Pravo commenting on the latest developments of the three-party coalition of the Social Democrats (CSSD), the ANO movement and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
This soap opera has two story lines.
In the first one, the parties' leaders stand in front of TV cameras looking constructively when announcing the completion of the programme of their future government. It seems that "their wedding" has been arranged, Mitrofanov writes.
However, in the other line the bride plays the main role. She is currently in the United States from where she is sending messages saying she could still change her mind and not marry this "country bumpkin," Mitrofanov says, hinting at Christian Democrat chairman Pavel Belobradek.
By this "public extortion," Belobradek will hardly reach trustworthiness, he adds.
It seems that he is just exerting pressure to gain more government posts. However, if this became a long-term working method of the Christian Democrats, it would end up in a brawl. And people are fed up with political brawls, Mitrofanov concludes.

The aid to families with children, embedded in the programme part of the coalition agreement, is a right step in spite of its right-wing opponents' criticism, Jan Keller writes elsewhere in Pravo.
He recalls that the programme part of the three parties' coalition pact reckons with the introduction of birth allowance for the second child, support to single mothers and the construction of "starting flats" for young people.
"The enemies of the government stability are certainly speaking about the waste of money, which the country cannot afford, Keller adds.
However, if the state does not help young families that have so carelessly decreased their competitiveness on the labour market due to children, they will look after themselves by not having so many children and the population will be decreasing (and ageing), Keller points out.
The right wing might regret it since if fewer children were born, the number of rightist voters would also fall, Keller notes.
CTK

Scouts bring Bethlehem light to Czech Republic
Brno, Dec 14 (CTK) - Scouts from Brno brought the Bethlehem light, a symbol of Christmas, in oil lamps by train from Vienna to the Czech Republic today, they have told CTK.

Now scouts as well as other believers will be bringing the light from Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, to Czech churches and households.
The Brno scouts were given the light during an ecumenical mass in the Votive Church in the centre of Vienna, which delegations of scouts from the whole of Europe attended today.
Then selected scouts had to watch the light carefully in two lamps not tom extinguish the precious flame.
On Sunday morning the scouts will pass the light on to the representatives of the Brno diocese during a mass celebrated in SS Peter and Paul Cathedral in Brno.
"The flame of peace and quiet will be distributed by train all over the Czech Republic as from next Saturday," Czech Rail (CD) spokeswoman Katerina Subova said in a press release.
Until Christmas, people can pick up the light in many churches, scout clubs and local authorities in the country.
The tradition emerged in Austria, where the light was transported from Bethlehem in 1986 and has spread into 25 countries since.
In the Czech Republic, the Bethlehem light appeared for the first time in December 1989, following the collapse of the communist regime.
Scouts from Brno have annually traveled to Vienna for the Bethlehem light since 1990.
CTK

Former Czech foreign minister to meet opposition in Kiev
Prague, Kiev, Dec 14 (CTK) - Former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09 chairman) left for a one-day visit to Ukraine today to meet the opposition representatives and attend a demonstration on the Independence square in Kiev, according to CTK information.

Czech musician and former politician Michael Kocab will support demonstrators in Kiev on Sunday.
Schwarzenberg, who will return on Sunday afternoon, might also meet representatives of the Ukrainian government but such a meeting is the subject to negotiations only, according to CTK information.
Kocab will read a joint letter of Czech and Slovak public personalities to the protesters on the square.
It was drafted by journalist Jan Urban, founder of the Civic Forum (OF) Czech umbrella organisation of pro-democratic forces in 1989, and sociologist Ivan Gabal as well as Slovak sociologist Fedor Gal, founder of the Public against Violence organisation, a Slovak equivalent of the OF, university lecturer Peter Zajac and former ambassador to USA Martin Butora.
„It si high time for the representatives of the nations with which Ukrainians want to share the joint Europe to express support to the Ukrainian people," Kocab said.
The People in Need humanitarian NGO, which has long been working with the civic sector in Ukraine, has organised Kocab's trip.
Besides, influential U.S. Senator John McCain (Republicans) is to visit Kiev to meet the government representatives, opposition politicians and civic leaders.
The pro-West opposition wants to stage another anti-government rally in the centre of Kiev on Sunday.
Mass protests aroused in Kiev a month ago after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the association agreement with the EU, preferring the inclination to Moscow.
The situation culminated after a police crackdown on protesting students at a square in Kiev in late November, in which many protesters were injured and arrested.
On the contrary, tens of thousands of people met at the European square in Kiev today to express support for the government and its effort to extend economic relations with Russia.
CTK

Czech Social Democrats approve coalition agreement
Prague, Dec 14 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) central executive committee (UVV) as expected approved the coalition agreement with ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) today and no internal CSSD referendum on it will be held, CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka has told reporters.

No serious criticism of the coalition agreement, respectively its the programme part, was voiced at the UVV meeting, he added.
"It shows that we have succeeded in including in it a major part of the priorities that the CSSD wanted to have in it," he told reporters.
Sobotka stressed that all votes were unanimous.
The UVV with some 180 members, the highest party body between two congresses, thereby confirmed the decision, which the CSSD presidium recommended on Friday.
The committee was to approve several resolutions.
In one, it passed the post-election steps taken by CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka and his negotiating team. In another resolution, the committee agreed that the CSSD would enter the government under the given programme conditions.
The nascent government should resolutely work in the interest of citizens, it would not behave arrogantly and surprise citizens with "revolutions," it would not economise at the expense of people but save at the expense of the state administration, Sobotka said.
"We are teetering on the brink of recession, we quickly need a government what would boost the economic growth," Sobotka told reporters.
Political analyst Miroslav Mares assessed the coalition agreement as vague and generally formulated. Besides, he added, it is not clear where the coalition would find money for its promises if it did not approve a tax hike.
"They, for instance, promise support to the whole education and health care sector but it is not specified from what resources the support will be covered," Mares told CTK.
Sobotka originally proposed that a referendum be held on the coalition agreement but now he has given up the plan. He said it was not necessary and it would delay the formation of a new cabinet.
CSSD deputy chairman Lubomir Zaoralek supported this opinion ahead of the UVV meeting. He said the UVV should vote on the coalition pact to speed up the process.
Former CSSD first deputy head and Sobotka's rival Michal Hasek said in the morning the coalition agreement would be passed smoothly. He told reporters that the temporary period with the outgoing caretaker government should not be protracted.
The CSSD has so far approved the programme part of the coalition agreement.
The Christian Democrats will debate it on Sunday and the ANO movement of billionaire Andrej Babis will deal with it at the beginning of next week.
The talks of the three parties' chairmen on the division of ministerial posts and personnel issues should start next week.
The Christian Democrats criticised previously the first proposal that they should head only two ministries.
Sobotka said the CSSD would negotiate about the division of the ministerial posts generously.
The party's bodies should not be approving the final government lineup, he added.
The CSSD, which won the late-October general election with 20.5 percent of the vote, ANO, which ended second with 18.7 percent, and the Christian Democrats (6.8 percent), who returned to the Chamber of Deputies after three years, together command a majority of 111 votes in the 200-seat lower house.
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Slovaks detained in Iran over spying allegations are back home
Bratislava, Dec 13 (CTK) - The last two men from a group of eight Slovak paraglider pilots detained over suspected spying in Iran in May are back in Slovakia, the server pravda.sk said today.

Early in the morning, they arrived in Bratislava aboard a special government plane on which Prime Minister Robert Fico came for them to Tehran on Thursday, the server said.
The rest of the group were released in September.
When Fico came to Tehran, the two Slovaks named Pavol Seliga and Marek Stolarcik were already released, but the Iranian authorities did not give them a consent to leave the country.
The Iranian secret services were reluctant to agree with the deal. Upon arrival, Fico said he would only return to Slovakia along with the two men and started negotiating with Iranians.
On Thursday evening, he flew with them back to Bratislava.
"It is a wonderful feeling to be at home. We would like to thank all who contributed to this," Seliga said.
He said in Iran the group had been in a rather large prison cell that could be compared to a social room.
Seliga said the Slovaks had at their disposal a library, a television set, a toilet and a small kitchen.
"The personnel were very correct, even friendly. They tried to be helpful," he added.
It is not clear whether Iran set any conditions for the release of the Slovak paraglider pilots.
Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak, who accompanied Fico, called on Slovaks to be cautious when visiting Iran.
"It may seem that it is quite easy to get our people from the Iranian prison, but this is not so. I do not recommend to any people that they should try it for the third time," Lajcak said.
Two groups of Slovaks came to Iran in early May. Shortly afterwards, Iranian authorities arrested them in Isfahan, central Iran, where uranium enrichment facilities, including the factory in Natanz are situated. They allegedly photographed nuclear and military facilities, which is banned in Iran.
The Iranian authorities said the foreigners had banned communication equipment such as walkie-talkies with them.
The equipment may have attracted the attention of Iranian security forces.
It has been the second case of Slovak citizens facing problems in Iran lately.
In January Iranians also detained Slovak Matej Valuch on suspicion of spying. He was released a week later. He denied any cooperation with the intelligence services.
CTK

 

 

 

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Czech, German town mayors jointly lit Christmas tree in Vatican
Vatican, Dec 13 (CTK) - The mayors of Domazlice, one of the westernmost Czech towns, and of Waldmuenchen, a nearby town on the Bavarian side of the border, today jointly lit a Christmas tree in the Vatican which they presented as a symbol of Czech-German reconciliation and united Europe
.

The 60-year old and 25-metres tall spruce grew up in the Domazlice area, but it has been presented to Pope Francis by the town of Waldmuenchen, which also paid for its transport to Rome.
Today's ceremony was also attended by Cardinal Dominik Duka, the Czech Catholic primate, Frantisek Radkovsky, bishop of Plzen, in whose diocese Domazlice is situated, and Rudolf Voderholzer, his counterpart from Regensburg, Bavaria.
Domazlice Mayor Miroslav Mach recalled that the spruce grew up in the area where the Iron Curtain in the past divided Europe, states and people's lives.
Mach said he wished that the tree bring peace to the Vatican and to the whole world.
"It is a symbol of united Europe," said Beate Merck, Bavarian minister for European affairs.
"The fact that the Christmas tree comes from the Czech Republic but its transport has been secured by Germany, and that it has been accompanied to the Vatican by both Czech and German pilgrims, is a symbol of the giant progress in Czech-German relations and cooperation," said Radkovsky.
He said everybody should appreciate that nothing like the former Iron Curtain exists any more and people can move freely and meet their friends and relatives, though they speak a different language and live in a different country.
At an audience earlier today, Pope Francis expressed joy at the "international tree," which he said is a sign of friendship between Bavaria and the Czech Republic, the German press agency dpa has reported.
This is for the second time a Czech Christmas tree has been erected in the Vatican. In 1999, the St Peter's Square was decorated by a spruce from the Beskydy mountains, north Moravia.
CTK

Selection of future Czech govt's major programme points
Prague, Dec 13 (CTK) - Selection of major programme points of the agreement the emerging government coalition of the Czech Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) reached on Thursday and released today:

ECONOMY:
- Sustainable economic growth and competitive industry are among the coalition's priorities. The parties want to reach the goal via resuming incentives to foreign investors while at the same time supporting the development of small and medium-sized businesses. State promotion of export is to play a big role.
- Public investments will go mainly to houses' heat insulation aimed to cut energy consumption, to infrastructure including motorways construction, to modernisation of railways and town bypasses, as well as to projects reacting to population ageing. The coalition wants to find financial means by saving overhead costs.
- The coalition will focus on an effective drawing of money from the EU, both from the means of the ending planning period and of the years 2014-20. It is from the latter that it wants to finance transport infrastructure construction, among others.
- In transport, the coalition wants to boost railways, including moving loads from roads. The possible Danube-Oder-Elbe water corridor is only mentioned in the stage of studies. The coalition plans to improve the Elbe's (Labe) navigability.
- In energy industry, the coalition wants to prepare a generally accepted state energy concept and to make a decision on coal mining limits in the north of Bohemia within two years. Savings, particularly in industry, are to play a big role. The coalition wants to revise the system of support to renewable sources in order to cut its impact on industry.
- It wants to extend the diversification of energy sources. In nuclear energy, the coalition supports the extension of the operation of the plant in Dukovany, south Moravia, until after 2025. It conditions the completion of the plant in Temelin, south Bohemia, with its economic advantageousness for the country.

TAXES AND THEIR COLLECTION:
- The coalition's priority is keeping public finances deficit under 3 percent of GDP throughout its election term.
- It plans changes as from 2015 when it wants to limit the flat expense write-offs of the self-employed, increase gambling taxes, lower VAT on medicines, books, baby food and diapers. The agreement also mentions the possibility of "considering the introduction of a sector tax."
- The coalition will abolish super-gross wage and introduce another income tax (to the level of the current solidarity surcharge for people with high incomes) and to gradually raise tax reliefs for a second and other children. Small tradespeople who have long been making a loss will be stripped of a tax relief.
- The coalition plans a measure allowing the tax administrator to demand evidence of the origin of property in defined cases. This will also apply to payments to "tax havens" (to be defined by the Finance Ministry) that will be "subject to a special information duty."
- An improvement in the tax collection is to be promoted by extending the possibility of transferring the tax duty in selected taxable fulfilments (where allowed by the EU). Online reporting of sales in selected branches or a bill lottery are also to be introduced.
- The coalition will quit the planned "single collection point" (of taxes), but it is not abandoning the idea of making tax and insurance management simpler. It wants to unite the bases for calculating health and social insurance with the calculation of corresponding tax bases.

AGRICULTURE AND COUNTRYSIDE:
- The coalition will be pushing for an improvement in the position of Czech farmers in the EU, including access to subsidies. The goal is attaining food self-sufficiency and raising the attractiveness of life in the countryside with the possibility of finding jobs there.
- Czech food producers are to be helped by more frequent checks in shops; the bodies in charge of control of food quality will be transferred under the Agriculture Ministry.
- Priority will be given to animal and plant production that places bigger demands on human work (fruits, vegetables, hops). Advantageous "green oil" will be preserved for active farmers. This also applies to zero tax rate on "table" wines.
- State forests will not be privatised. The state Lesy CR forest company is to more cooperate with small and medium-size firms.
- Construction possibilities on top-quality farmland will be limited.

ENVIRONMENT
- "Boiler subsidies" destined for heating upgrading, consistent checks of polluters among firms, construction of town bypasses and support to public, pedestrian and cycling transport at the cost of individual car transport are to help reduce air pollution.
- Mainly "brownfields" are to serve further development of industry and trade. Smaller orders are to be launched for the cleaning-up of old environmental burdens.
- Particularly "nature-close measures" such as the construction and renovation of small water reservoirs or reconstruction of water courses are to be used in protection against high waters.
- The coalition is opposed to the resumption of prospecting for gold and its mining and to the launch of research into the deposits and later mining of shale gas.

PENSIONS, EMPLOYMENT, SUPPORT TO FAMILIES, WELFARE BENEFITS:
- As from 2015 pensions will again be raised by inflation and one third of growth in real wages. The second and third pension pillars will be merged. The state will raise the attractiveness of the current third pillar to bring more people in it.
- The minimum wage will be sent closer to 40 percent of the average wage (according to the current situation it would be about 10,000 crowns a month). In the employment field, the coalition will place emphasis on employing school graduates, the handicapped, people in pre-retirement age as well as parents returning from parental holiday.
- A new law is to improve the current situation where "traders in poverty" are profiting from housing welfare benefits.
- People are to again get birth allowances for a second child. The financial situation of people taking care of their relatives is to improve.

HEALTH CARE
- All regulatory fees paid by patients will be abolished except for the 90-crown fee paid for a visit to an emergency room. The gap in the health sector's revenues will be covered by payments from health insurers, while the state will raise the contributions it pays for selected groups of inhabitants.
- The caps on health insurance contributions will be lifted. The state will regularly index the health insurance contributions it pays for selected groups of people. The prices of treatment will be binding on all health insurers.
- The ownership of health facilities and health insurers will be consistently separated from each other. A decision on a possible reduction of the number of health insurers has been postponed for the time being.
- A new law on public non-profit health facilities is planned. It will apply to the backbone network of hospitals, including teaching ones.
- Insurers will use bonus programmes to motivate people to health prevention. Access to spa care is to improve.
- A permission of active euthanasia is out of the question.

EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND RESEARCH
- Towns will get money for building day nurseries and kindergartens. The attendance of kindergarten will be "basically compulsory" in the year before the child starts going to an elementary school. Support will be provided to kindergartens established by companies and employing qualified teachers.
- Career order for teachers and a system of their motivation will be introduced. Vocational schools should more focus on practice and cooperation with companies.
- Tuition fees will not be introduced at public or state universities.
- In science, support will be provided to the branches whose knowledge can be quickly used in practice, such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, biochemistry, medicine, informatics and engineering.
- Czech scientists and research workers should have more chances to cooperate with foreign counterparts, mainly from the EU.

CULTURE AND SPORTS
- A planned law on public corporations in culture will replace the present system of state-subsidised organisations.
- The state's spending on culture should gradually rise to one percent of the state budget. An emphasis should be placed on the salvation and conservation of cultural heritage. The coalition also wants to support non-profit organisations, amateur artists and regional culture. Promotion of the Czech Republic abroad is to improve.
- Rules concerning the concentration of the ownership of media are to be more specified.
- A bill on supporting sports will be submitted, which will mainly accent the work with the youth.

LEGISLATION AND RULE OF LAW
- The coalition will submit a constitutional bill on a general referendum including a list of questions on which a referendum cannot be called.
- An amendment to the constitution will be drafted to more specify the relevant bodies and officials' rights and duties in reaction to the recently introduced direct presidential election.
- The coalition will monitor the impact of the new Civil Code, valid as from January 2014, which may be adjusted based on the analyses.
- A self-rule system will be introduced in the judicial area, along with a new law on the state attorney's office that will ensure state attorneys' independence (also by setting their firm election terms and reducing the possibility of their dismissal).
- Alternative forms of punishment will be enhanced, including an electronic monitoring system that may substitute for a custody stay in some cases.
- The impact of distraints will be softened. A limit for the total sum of interests and sanctions will be set. Distrainers should not be entrepreneurs competing with each other but "representatives of the state who objectively enforce law."
- Politicians will newly submit property statements, in an e-form, (not only on departure but) also on arrival in political posts. Central purchases and e-auctions in the public sector will be supported. A central registry of contracts, available on the Internet, will be established.
- Binding standards for nominating state representatives in the management of state owned or co-owned companies will be defined. Advertisements ordered by such companies will be reduced.
- A limit for the financing of political parties' election campaigns will be set and also a limit for gifts donated to parties by individuals and companies.

PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
- A bill on civil service will be passed with the aim to depoliticise civil service and define criteria for officials, including career promotion. A bill on foreign service, applying to diplomats, is also planned.
- The use of external services by the public administration will be reduced. Centralisation in the IT area will be enhanced.
- Recipients of subsidies and companies trading with the state will have to disclose the identity of their owners, including sub-suppliers.

SECURITY
- The present structure of the police corps will not change, but more officers will be admitted to reinforce the police. The rule of municipal police is to be newly defined so that they no longer do the state police's work but rather focus on security problems related to towns and cities.
- A new bill will define the work of security agencies.
- Mechanisms of the supervision of intelligence services are to be changed and a supervisory body including respected personalities may be established in this connection. Changes in the powers, focus and division of the spheres of particular intelligence services' operation may be made.
- A priority is the fight against organised crime, within which the accused persons in selected cases should be bound to prove the origin of their property. The state bodies should no longer only passively watch the actions of extremists.
- Negotiations will be held on the re-establishment of the financial police and a possible change in the role of the Finance Ministry's financial and analytical section.

DEFENCE AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS
- Czech membership of NATO is the basis of the country's defence. At the same time, the coalition wants to continue actively assisting in the joint security and defence policy of the EU.
- The Defence Ministry's budget outlook for several years, approved by the government, will be introduced as a step to help stabilise the military.
- The coalition pledges to ensure the protection and defence of the Czech airspace by own means. It will reassess the question of optimising the country's military training areas.
- The foreign political priority is the Czech active EU membership striving for a successful continuation of the European integration process. Preparations for the accession to the euro zone will continue.
- The government is primarily responsible for foreign policy, which it will create based on the broadest possible political consensus, mainly in parliament.
- Crucial is the relation with Germany, the Czech Republic's biggest economic partner, but the priorities also include Czech participation in projects such as the Visegrad Group cooperation and the EU's Eastern Partnership. The coalition will support the observance of human rights in the world.
CTK

CSSD presidium approves Czech coalition agreement
Prague, Dec 13 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) presidium today unanimously approved the coalition agreement with ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), and recommended that the CSSD executive committee decide on it on Saturday without declaring a party referendum, according to CTK sources.

CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka, who originally proposed the idea, said today the referendum was not necessary. He said the referendum would not be fortunate as the formation of a new government would be postponed due to it.
This outcome of the presidium's vote was expected. It is also expected that the Central Executive Committee, which has about 180 members, will approve the coalition agreement tomorrow.
The three coalition partners released the programme part of the agreement earlier today. The KDU-CSL will discuss it on Sunday, ANO early on Monday or Tuesday.
The CSSD, ANO and the KDU-CSL will start discussing the lineup of their potential government next week.
Sobotka said on Thursday he believed he could present the government lineup to President Milos Zeman by the end of the year.
The three parties hold a 111-vote majority in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
CTK

Five Czech soldiers decorated for service in foreign missions
Prague, Dec 13 (CTK) - Five Czech soldiers serving in the EUFOR-Althea and Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) Sinai operations were decorated with the Defence Minister's medals for service abroad by deputy chief of staff Ales Opata today.

Besides, Major Lukas Stejskal received an honorary badge of merit of the Czech military for his work in the MFO operation on the Sinai Peninsula and Lieutenant Colonel Libor Grmela got a present for his participation in the Althea operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
"Soldiers have been operating in the north of Sinai in Egypt for 20 years and the major tasks of the international operation's troops include supervising the observance of the security conditions of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The New Zealander commander of the operation has highly appreciated Czech soldiers working in the staff," Opata, head of the Joint Operational Centre of the Defence Ministry, told CTK.
The service within the Multinational Force and Observers mission includes surveillance and patrolling along the border between Egypt and Israel.
Since November, 13 people from the air and ground staff of the Czech military have served there, along with a CASA transport plane to secure the transport of persons and materiel for the MFO.
At present some 1670 soldiers from 13 countries and over 170 civilian workers serve in the MFO.
Czech soldiers' mission lasts 12 months.
In the EUFOR-Althea operation, Czech soldiers help train and develop the armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The EU assumed responsibility for the peacekeeping international operation on the territory in 2004. The Czech military has sent ten officers to the EUFOR command in Sarajevo within the operation.
The previous deployment of Czech soldiers in this mission was completed in June 2008.
Some 20,000 professional soldiers serve in the Czech military. They are fulfilling tasks both in the Czech Republic and in foreign missions.
The highest number of Czech soldiers operated in the former Yugoslavia and in Afghanistan. Some Czech 26,000 soldiers have rotated in foreign missions since 1990.
CTK

Czech diplomacy to map up demand and trends on foreign markets
Prague, Dec 13 (CTK) - The Foreign Ministry should newly map the demand and its trends on foreign markets so that Czech investors could adapt their offer, outgoing Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said when unveiling the priorities of Czech economic diplomacy today.

The Foreign Ministry should "conduct analyses of markets, prospects and trends and to keep updated information on what a region can and will demand and then react to it," Kohout said.
He pointed to an agreement with the Industry and Trade Ministry to form a network of its representatives and their cooperation with diplomatic offices.
Kohout said development cooperation should be pushed towards the creation of jobs in developing countries through profitable investments of Czech companies.
He cited as an example the contract for the construction of a brewery in Ethiopia, a project to be carried out by the firm ZVU POTEZ from Hradec Kralova, east Bohemia.
Kohout said further projects in African countries were in the stage of negotiations in the sphere of food, energy and defence industries.
He said 150 million crowns more for economic diplomacy had been gained through negotiations in the budget bill for next year.
However, due to the weakening exchange rate of the Czech crown caused by an intervention of the CNB national bank, the ministry will lose 180 million crowns, Kohout said.
Due to this, he warned of further reduction of the ministry's expenditures.
Karel Havlicek, chairman of the Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Crafts, pointed to a new project with the involvement of his association, the Foreign Ministry and OECD.
Established within the Eurasia programme, it focuses on mapping up opportunities on the markets of former Soviet Union countries with the exception of Russia and the Baltic countries.
"These are exactly the markets on which small and medium-sized firms have a chance of rather good exports in the years to come," Havlicek said.
Last year, the Czech exports crossed the mark of three billion crowns for the first time in history.
The result was largely due to exports outside the EU.
Between this January and October, Czech foreign trade scored a surplus of 306.5 billion crowns, a year-on-year increase of 39.9 billion crowns.
($1 = 19.947 crowns)
CTK
 

 

 

 

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 13 (CTK) - Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) leader and prime minister-designate Bohuslav Sobotka has the easy stage of his preparation for the post of prime minister past him, but now he will have to convince the people from his own party that the coalition pact is a good compromise on which one can build for four years, Petr Fischer writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN).

This will not be easy as the party faction around former first deputy chairman Michal Hasek is weakened, but will still have a say in the affair, Fischer writes.
Sobotka must be prepared for essential criticism because many Social Democrats believe that the party's concessions in the sphere of taxes are a blow to the usual leftist agenda, he adds.
There are things in which Social Democrats must not yield, Sobotka's critics are saying and taxes as the main instrument of politics should not be among them, Fischer writes.
Andrej Babis's ANO has achieved everything it wanted in the taxation sphere, but the Social Democrats pushed through virtually nothing from their know-how targeted at growth, he adds.

Andrej Babis, leader of the ANO (YES) movement, is creating again artificial problems, Jakub Kalensky writes in Lidove noviny (LN), commenting on the latest talks on the new coalition government.
When sending a message to the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) that they must make do with two ministries he ignores the usual coalition mechanisms, Kalensky writes.
In the past coalition governments, small parties always had more seats than those corresponding with the number of their votes, he adds.
Babis's attempt prompts the thought of whether he wants to form a government in the first place, Kalensky writes.
Perhaps he does not want the Sobotka's government to be eventually formed, he adds.
This may be doubly true at the moment public opinion polls are giving him the biggest preferences, Kalensky writes.
If early elections were held, Babis may not only get the post of finance minister, but become the new prime minister, he adds.
However, there is still the obstacle that the voters would recall who made impossible the formation of the new government and the replacement of Jiri Rusnok's illegitimate government, Kalensky concludes.

The second stage of the process of government formation ended without major difficulties on Thursday and the content of the coalition pact reveals that the three partners' priorities are in them, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in Pravo.
However, the new coalition has a task that is not written anywhere, Mitrofanov writes.
It is in the three parties' own interest to try and rehabilitate politics as work and cooperation, he adds.
All they need is to proceed in the routine and efficient way, without any major gestures and proclamations, Mitrofanov writes.
So far, the scheme has not been much harmed, he adds.
On Thursday, the fourth deputy chairperson of the Chamber of Deputies was elected, which is a sign of normal activities of coalition deputies irrespective of ideological animosities, Mitrofanov writes.
However, the picture may be soon tarnished. After the talks on the number of seats in the government in the making start, one will perhaps see the biggest problems in the coalition mechanism, he adds.
CTK

New Czech coalition vows to raise pensions, minimum wage
Prague, Dec 13 (CTK) - Czech Social Democrats (CSSD), the ANO movement and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) promise to increase pensions and the minimum wage as well as to cancel most health fees in their coalition pact they presented to CTK today.

The three parties with a 111-vote majority in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies agreed on the coalition pact on Thursday.
As of 2015, the VAT on drugs, books, baby food and diapers will be lowered.
The deficit of 3 percent of GDP is to be maintained by a better tax collection and cuts in the civil service.
In the 50-page document, the coalition in the making promises not to change taxes next year. It wants to submit any changes to tax laws to the general public for comment.
As of 2015, it plans to increase taxes on gambling and to introduce a lower VAT on drugs, books, baby food and diapers.
"In order to finance the change, the coalition will consider imposing a sector tax on regulated branches as of 2015," the report said.
Starting in 2015, the coalition partners want to increase the tax reliefs for the parents with second and third children and introduce the birth benefit for the second child, too.
They will renew a tax relief for working pensioners. Pensions will be regularly increased by the inflation rate and one-third of the growth in real wages as of 2015.
The coalition wants to abolish the second pension pillar, the cornerstone of the pension reform drafted by the Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democratic Party, ODS) centre-right coalition government (2010-2013).
The coalition will cancel the concept of super gross salary and solidarity surcharge for people with high incomes. Instead, it will introduce the second tax rate on individuals' incomes to neutralise the impact on the budget.
The minimum salary is to be increased to approach 40 percent of average salary.
The coalition will cancel the fees for prescription and visits to doctors and it will not reintroduce the fee for stay in hospital.
However, the fee for emergency care will be conserved.
The fall in revenues is to be compensated with growing resources from the state budget, especially by increasing the payment for the persons insured by the state.
Public investments are to go primarily to the insulation of buildings, retention of water in the landscape, transport and public infrastructure as well as social and health services reacting to population ageing.
The coalition plans to increase the resources of the State Fund for Transport Infrastructure (SFDI) to make its total resources approach 2 percent of GDP.
The government will only introduce the toll where it will serve some purpose.
The government will only agree with the completion of the Temelin nuclear power plant if it is economically advantageous for the Czech Republic. However, the coalition reckons with the Dukovany nuclear power plant to be operated even after 2025.
The government wants to preserve green diesel for farmers and to achieve self-sufficiency in basic foodstuffs.
CTK

Czech right starts to show signs of life after failure - press
Prague, Dec 13 (CTK) - One and a half months after its election flop, the Czech right is showing the first signs of life, Daniel Kaiser writes in weekly Reflex, and adds that Petr Fiala has asked for the post of ODS head and TOP 09 Miroslav Kalousek has made an interesting speech at the party's congress on Sunday.

Kaiser writes that Fiala, 49, a political scientist by training, who joined the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) only in November, spoke very critically about the ODS's heading under its former chairman and prime minister Petr Necas.
Fiala, former Czech education minister and Brno's Masaryk University rector, criticised the tax raises made by Necas's cabinet in a speech he made in the CEVRO Liberal Conservative Academy and said this is an utterly self-destroying policy for a rightist party, Kaiser writes.
"It is absurd that parties to the left of the ODS...should talk about cutting some taxes while the ODS has not formulated reducing taxes as one of its main political goals," Fiala said.
He proposes that the ODS return to its roots, or to the principles that it at least verbally coined, Kaiser writes.
"The political centre is conquered from the wings," Kaiser quotes Fiala as saying.
However, until now anyone talking like this has been ridiculed. It was said they revive chronic "Klausism" [reference to ODS founder Vaclav Klaus] and do not comprehend that this is no longer the first half of the 1990s, Kaiser writes.
Fiala said 15 percent of voters defining themselves as the right plus 20-25 percent of supporters of the right-centre is his goal for the next elections. "To kowtow to the others is nonsensical," Fiala said.
Kaiser writes that if Fiala succeeded in keeping this line, this alone would be a great contribution to Czech politics.
Present-day politics is full of marketing considerations and kowtowing to the metropolitan or media elite is of no great sense either, particularly at a moment when an essential part of it has founded itself on the pay rolls of oligarchs, Kaiser writes.
He is hinting at billionaire Andrej Babis, chairman of the ANO movement which will be part of an emerging three-member coalition government, who has recently extended his agro-chemical empire with the ownership of some national media.
Fiala clearly showed to his party fellow members that they are no longer supported by any professional or age group that would be voting for them too often, Kaiser writes.
This year, for instance, a mere 13 percent of businesspeople and small tradespeople voted for them, while TOP 09, whose ministers in Necas's government harmed them objectively most, for instance, by pressing for a higher VAT, was supported by 19 percent of the two above groups, and ANO by as much as 27 percent, Kaiser recalls.
Under-30 voters also abandoned the ODS this year. A mere 6 percent of them cast their votes for the party while 24 percent chose Babis's ANO, Kaiser writes.
These are dramatic trends and it is a question whether political sciences professor of whom slow speech is typical can be a leader for such dramatic times, Kaiser writes.
All Fiala's weaknesses were evident in his Saturday speech: he needed 45 minutes to say what a good rhetor would manage in 20 minutes, he often spoke at great length and not to the point, Kaiser writes.
Those who want the ODS to fare well in the future must hope that Fiala will reveal his talent for practical everyday politics. The party has no better personality at the moment, Kaiser adds.
Kalousek, former finance minister, who was re-elected TOP 09 first deputy chairman on Sunday, performed all that Fiala is lacking, Kaiser writes.
Kalousek is a born "pitbull" for whom every deputy group must be grateful. He is capable of turning an opponent to shreds in a few sentences and on top of that to identify the fundamental trends of the period, Kaiser writes.
He writes that Kalousek is now paying the same attention to Babis he paid to President Milos Zeman until recently.
Since Kalousek cannot discard Zeman right away, he has added to his "monarch" (Zeman) model the "oligarch" (Babis) one, Kaiser writes.
Kalousek says the new arrangement gives rise to a new corruption-prone environment and a government with a permanent conflict of interests.
"An organised minority will participate in the government. It is us who must protect the unorganised majority," Kalousek said.
Unlike the ODS that has have not commented on the emerging government, Kalousek has already comprehended that it is necessary to challenge Babis's role of protector of the medium and higher strata from the Social Democrats (CSSD, the senior party in the emerging government), formulated for him by advisers from the U.S. agency PSB that also brought him to where he is now, Kaiser writes.
However, Kalousek is no genius from the strategic point of view. He personally bears a great deal of responsibility for the decline of the right whether via the estrangement of whole voter groups (taxes, abolition of tax reliefs for working pensioners) or via the fratricidal war with the ODS, Kaiser writes.
But mainly, he tends to comprehend politics like a game for game. Fiala's worry for the fate of the right is much more trustworthy, Kaiser writes.
The ODS still has five times more members than TOP 09, even after many have left it. Until the two parties swap their positions, the Czech right will be resting on unsound bases, Kaiser writes.
CTK

Talks on Czech coalition govt lineup may start Monday - CSSD
Prague, Dec 12 (CTK) - The only point missing in the coalition agreement of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) is the potential Czech government's lineup and the talks on it may start on Monday, CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka said after meeting President Milos Zeman today.

The dates of his naming as prime minister-designate and of the appointment of the cabinet members were not discussed today, Sobotka said.
He said he believed he could present the government lineup to Zeman by the end of the year.
"We will be ready and able to present the proposal for the composition of the next government to the president by the end of the year. The (appointment) process then depends on the president," he pointed out.
Sobotka handed the programme part of the coalition pact, the final version of which was agreed by the three parties' negotiators only a few hours ago, to Zeman this afternoon.
Zeman welcomed it that the coalition partners pledged to work out a bill introducing the duty to prove the origin of one's property.
Sobotka started regularly meeting Zeman once a week in order to acquaint him with the development of the talks on the possible next government. Thursday has been the day of their meetings until now.
The leaderships of the CSSD, ANO and the KDU-CSL should approve the coalition programme by next Thursday, Sobotka said.
The CSSD Central Executive Committee will discuss it on Saturday and the KDU-CSL national conference will deal with it on Sunday.
Sobotka said an internal CSSD referendum might be held if the Central Executive Committee did not decide on the issue.
He said the three parties may make progress in the personnel issues by next Thursday.
Sobotka said he and Zeman therefore might be talking about candidates for ministers on December 19.
He said the coalition partners first need to agree on how many ministers each of them would have in the government and only then names would be proposed.
Zeman said previously he might reject some candidates for ministers, however, lawyers whom CTK addressed shared the view that Zeman has no right to do so except for extreme cases, such as if the candidate is a foreign power's agent.
The CSSD, ANO and the KDU-CSL have 50, 47 and 14 lawmakers in the 200-seat lower house of parliament, which gives them a 111-vote majority.
The small Christian Democrats said it was unacceptable for them to have only two ministers in the government as proposed by the CSSD, KDU-CSL deputy chairman Marian Jurecka said on Wednesday. The government is to have 15 or more members.
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Former Slovak PM Meciar leaves HZDS, party he founded in 1991
Bratislava, Dec 12 (CTK) - Vladimir Meciar, former Slovak prime minister who decided on the split of Czechoslovakia together with his Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus in 1992, today withdrew from the Movement of a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), a party he founded in 1991 and headed until recently, Slovak media reported.

Meciar brought the HZDS to power in the early 1990s, where it kept for almost a decade before being gradually abandoned by voters and ousted from parliament in 2010.
"The [party's] so called collective leadership is preparing a bankruptcy and liquidation of the party. At variance with the party congress's resolution it is planning to found a new party. It is lying to the public and to the party members. I can't remain in such a grouping," Meciar said in a statement cited by the media.
Meciar, now 71, was the HZDS's only chairman from 1991, when he established it, until the party's congress in September this year at which he did not seek re-election.
No one showed interest in the post of chairman then, which is why the party has been led by a 10-member board since.
In the 1990s, Meciar was the most popular politician in Slovakia. His party gained over 37 percent of the vote in the elections in 1992.
However, its popularity later plummeted and in 2010 it failed to cross the 5-percent parliament entry threshold.
In the early general election in 2012, the HZDS gained less than one percent of the vote.
Meciar, along with Klaus, in their capacity as the Slovak and Czech prime ministers, assisted in the split of the Czechoslovak Federation and the establishment of the two successor states, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, as from January 1, 1993.
Meciar was three times Slovak prime minister, but his governance came under criticism of both domestic opponents and the West as prone to authoritarianism. They criticised Meciar for Slovakia's controversial privatisation deals and the suspected misuse of intelligence services against his political rivals, among others.
CTK
 

 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.



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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gazdik elected as last Czech lower house deputy chairman
Prague, Dec 12 (CTK) - Brief profile of Petr Gazdik, 39, who was elected the fourth, last deputy chairperson of the Czech Chamber of Deputies today:

Date and place of birth: June 26, 1974 in Uherske Hradiste, southern Moravia.
Education: graduates from pedagogy at Brno's Masaryk University in 1996.
Current posts: chairman of Mayors and Independents (STAN) since 2009, lower house deputy (2010-August 2013, since October 2013 again), regional assemblyman.
Previous employment: teacher at elementary school (1996-2002); mayor of Sucha Loz, a small municipality in southern Moravia, from 2002 to 2010 since when he has been the deputy mayor. He was deputy head of the Vychodni Slovacko region in 2004-2008. Chairman of TOP 09 and STAN deputy group (2010-August 2013, since October 2013 again).
Political activities: he worked within the Independent Mayors for Region movement, founded in the Zlin Region in 2004. In February 2009, the group changed its name to Mayor and Independents (STAN) and Gazdik has become its chairman. In July 2009, STAN signed an agreement on cooperation with the new conservative TOP 09 party.
Family: married, with three daughters.

Other information:
- He is interested in scouting and floorball.
- In 2007 Sucha Loz withdrew its complaint against alleged tax discrimination of small Czech municipalities that it had filed with the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. The complaint was withdrawn after the Czech government submitted an amendment to the relevant law on taxes.
- In January 2008, Gazdik was one of the founders of the Association of Local Self-Rule Bodies of the Czech Republic (SMS). It was established as a rival organisation to the Union of Towns and Municipalities. The SMS is of the view that the latter organisation does not sufficient advocate the interests of small municipalities.
- At the end of this May, Gazdik said he was reluctant to run again for the Chamber of Deputies. He said he was disgusted at the current state of Czech politics.
CTK

Czech Social Democrats want to curb Babis's grip on media - press
Prague, Dec 12 (CTK) - Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) tried to insert a discreet sentence in the coalition pact proposing that the concentration of media in one's hands should be curbed, targeting agro mogul and head of ANO movement Andrej Babis, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today.

The CSSD, ANO (YES) and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) are conducting talks on the formation of a government to arise from the late October general election.
The Social Democrats tried to provoke Babis, but they walked on the thin ice, MfD writes.
They wrote in their draft coalition pact "Along the model of advanced countries, we will reduce the concentration of a too large proportion in the media market in one's hands," it adds.
The sentence was not proposed by party experts in expert negotiating groups, but by the main team headed by party leader Bohuslav Sobotka, MfD writes.
The negotiators said the text had been spotted by ANO representatives headed by Babis who has bought one piece of mass media after another, it adds.
This includes the MAFRA publishers that controls the paper Mlada fronta Dnes, MfD itself adds.
According to some sources, ANO representatives wanted to delete the whole phrase, while others say they at least tried to soften it, MfD writes.
Babis immediately rejected the proposal.
"On the one hand, I understand the reservations, but this is an affair for the anti-trust office or the commissions in Brussels," Babis is quoted as saying.
"I argued that they should rather look at the censorship in Czech Television (CT public broadcaster)," he added.
Social Democrats are reluctant to speak about the sensitive issue, MfD writes.
"Now I do not know whether the sentence is in the final version," party deputy chairman Lubomir Zaoralek told the paper.
A Social Democrat negotiator who requested anonymity said the sentence had remained in the draft coalition pact, but it had to be rephrased.
At first, it said: "An intervention should be made against the concentration on the media market."
The Forbes magazine says Babis is the second richest man in the Czech Republic. Within the MAFRA deal, he also bought the liberal paper Lidove noviny (LN). Along with Mlada fronta Dnes, he has acquired a large portion of mainstream papers in the Czech Republic.
CTK

Ex-PM admits "bartering" amnesty for Klaus's signature on bill
Prague, Dec 12 (CTK) - Former Czech PM Petr Necas told his office head and current wife Jana Nagyova that he had bartered his signature on then president Vaclav Klaus's amnesty for Klaus's nodding to his government tax package, Aktualne.cz server writes today, referring to police wiretapping.

Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) denied such a deal between him and Klaus in the past.
Nagyova, whose name is Necasova now, is accused of abuse of power for having ordered the military intelligence service to spy on Necas's wife. She also figures in the case of suspected political corruption.
Necas countersigned Klaus's New Year amnesty without discussing it in his government before.
"The amnesty is an awful jam," Necas told Nagyova then, iz ensues from the police wiretapping files. He added that he can openly say is was "a signature for signature" deal.
The wiretapped conversation occurred in the afternoon on January 5.
However, both Klaus's former secretary Petr Hajek and his office's political section head Ladislav Jakl deny the information, the server writes.
"I rule out such a deal," Jakl said.
Even Necas dismissed it in January.
"I can rule out such a political deal. In the case of the signature on the government package, the responsible approach of the president who did not want the country to face chaos unnecessarily prevailed," daily Mlada fronta Dnes quoted Necas as saying on January 9.
The amnesty, which Klaus (in office 2003-2013) declared in January shortly before his term expired, applied to convicts with low suspended or prison sentences and elderly convicts. Besides, it halted criminal prosecution if it had lasted for more than eight years, and if the maximum prison sentence that could be imposed in such cases did not exceed ten years.
This applied to some high-profile corruption and financial fraud cases, which caused a big outcry.
The presidential amnesty set free some 6500 prisoners and pardoned suspended and alternative sentences given to tens of thousands of people.
The anti-corruption police investigation concluded that Klaus's amnesty had not been influenced by bribes, Pravo wrote in mid-October.
The High State Attorney's Office in Olomouc, north Moravia, used the wiretapping recordings to accuse Nagyova, former military intelligence service (VZ) chiefs Ondrej Palenik and Milan Kovanda and intelligence officer Jan Pohunek of abusing the intelligence to spy on three people, including Necas's former wife Radka. Nagyova allegedly ordered it.
Speculations emerged saying Necas, too, could be accused in the other case, in which Nagyova figures, of bribing three former deputies for the ODS, Marek Snajdr, Petr Tluchor and Ivan Fuksa, into giving up their mandates by being given lucrative posts in state-owned companies.
However, Necas has not been charged yet though the Supreme Court (NS) ruled in October that he can be prosecuted unlike the three former MPs who were protected by immunity applying to acts outside the Chamber of Deputies as well.
Necas resigned as head of government and the ODS in reaction to the criminal scandal and his government fell in June. Afterwards he admitted his close relationship with Nagyova and they got married in September.
CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 12 (CTK) - Only a failure to agree on a quite complicated system of safeguards within the coalition may mar the negotiation on a new Czech government of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), Bohumil Pecinka writes in the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.

After the night meeting of the three parties' leaders it is clear that they will not be at odds about the programme. They have practically decided on it, Pecinka adds.
A more important question is where the coalition will find finances for its planned huge redistribution of public resources, such as the pensions' rise, the abolition of patients' fees and a lower VAT rate.
The division of ministerial posts might also be complicated though the decision on the most important ones has been made, Pecinka says.
Besides, apart from the official coalition, another one is emerging in parliament, being led by the ANO movement's chairman, billionaire Andrej Babis, Pecinka points out.
He adds that due to this situation the government policy has "a double centre of gravity," which will weaken both the Social and Christian Democrats in the future.
However, if the talks on the future cabinet of CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka collapsed, it would be caused by the complex structure of safeguards, required by the Christian Democrats, which the other two parties fear a lot, Pecinka writes in conclusion.

It is a historical paradox that the nascent government to be headed by the Social Democrats (CSSD) will start working by lowering taxes, Petr Honzejk writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.
He recalls that the three-party coalition plans to introduce a new, second reduced VAT rate of 5 percent to apply to medicines, books, diapers and baby food. Besides, parents of small children should pay a lower income tax.
This "Christmas gift" to Czech citizens may cause both a factual and political problem, Honzejk writes.
"The lowering of taxes without a proper compensation is a populist experiment that must end up in a rising budget deficit," he writes.
He says it is not sure whether the nascent cabinet will survive until the regular general election in four years. The parties themselves have laid mines on their path that will be difficult to avoid.
The coalition's survival depends on how quickly it will be able to admit the budget reality and say that the Christmas gift must be paid and agree on how to do it, Honzejk concludes in HN.

The post of ombudsman, public defender of citizens' rights, must be occupied by a personality who enjoys a natural respect, otherwise it would lose its sense, Zbynek Petracek writes in Lidove noviny (LN) today, commenting on the decision of Czech Ombudsman Pavel Varvarovsky to resign as of December 20.
The ombudsman does not have many formal powers and this is why his office strongly depends on his/her personal qualities.
Honzejk recalls that the first Czech ombudsman, the late Otakar Motejl, was such a strong, broadly respected personality.
Honzejk asks whether Varvarovsky's successor will be able to preserve the high reputation of the Ombudsman's office from Motejl's era or whether political parties will push through someone of their favourites to the position.
"If it were current deputy ombudsman Stanislav Krecek, 'Motejl's office' would lose its substance," Honzejk concludes
CTK

Czechs to send special forces to train Afghan troops
Kabul, Dec 11 (CTK) - The Czech military will send two groups of special forces to train local soldiers to Afghanistan as of January, Czech chief of staff Petr Pavel said at the ISAF command in Kabul today.

The Czech Republic is also ready to continue with the training of Afghan pilots of transport and combat helicopters as well as the preparation of local aviation technicians, Pavel said.
The USA and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are conducting talks on the deployment of coalition forces after 2014 when a large part of them are to leave the country.
The continuation of the presence of international forces in Afghanistan depends on the signing of a security pact between Washington and Kabul.
It is to clarify the legal aspect of the deployment of foreign troops in Afghanistan.
"Much will depend on how the planning will develop, on the pact with Afghans. In what places the coalition units will be stationed and what tasks they will fulfil," Pavel said.
He said the Afghan army had not yet all the required capabilities to defend the country in its own right.
There is the question of whether the coalition will only back local armed forces after 2014 or whether it will also partly engage in the fighting with Islamist rebels. Pavel said.
"If there is interest, we will want to support the development of the air force, with the training of both its crew and technical personnel," Pavel said.
Czechs also offer the technical maintenance of helicopters to Afghans.
Czech soldiers have their mandate approved till the end of 2014. Next year, there will be about 270 of them in the country.
Along with special forces, a training team of pilots and a group of military doctors, Czechs will have a unit patrolling the Bagram allied base.
After 2014, the current operation is to be followed up by the Resolute Support mission whose exact contours have not yet been approved.
Pavel admitted that the longer the allied forces were in the country, the worse their presence was tolerated by the population.
Freshly trained Afghan armed forces will be tested by the presidential election scheduled for next year.
"The presidential election will certainly attract rebels' big attention," Pavel said.
A recurrence of violence across the country at the time of the election is expected, he added.
CTK

 

 

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Partners to assess final text of Czech coalition pact on Thursday
Prague, Dec 11 (CTK) - Czech Social Democrat (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) negotiators will meet to assess the updated final text of the coalition pact on Thursday, when CSSD chairman and possible prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka may also provide information on it to President Milos Zeman.

The negotiators solved the last persisting points of controversy concerning the new coalition's programme late on Tuesday.
Based on the talks result, Sobotka's team will prepare the final text of the agreement and it will submit it for a definitive assessment to the partners on Thursday.
The latest talks produced the parties' agreement on steps concerning taxes and regulatory health fees, Sobotka told journalists when the talks ended after the midnight today.
According to CTK's information, however, major changes were also made in the pact's preamble and the chapters concerning agriculture, defence and civil service.
Negotiations on some tax-related issues still wait for closing, according to CTK's information.
If the parties confirm the deal on Thursday, their respective leadership bodies should approve it at the weekend and the parties' lawmakers should sign it at the beginning of next week.
However, voices have appeared in the KDU-CSL, the nascent coalition's smallest partner, saying the party's weekend conference may not approve the coalition agreement text as it goes counter to the party's programme in some respects.
The KDU-CSL mainly minds the plan to introduce a minimum tax for self-employed people and small businesspeople.
Sobotka said after the night negotiations that the coalition agreement will include a measure preventing the abuse of the tax system by some self-employed people who do not pay taxes over alleged permanent business losses.
The KDU-CSL's weekend conference assessing the pact will be attended by the party chairman Pavel Belobradek, who is returning from a two-week working stay in the USA on Sunday morning.
The CSSD Central Executive Committee will decide at its meeting on Saturday on whether the party will call an internal referendum to approve the government coalition pact.
The three parties' Thursday meeting over the text is to start in the Chamber of Deputies at 13:00.
Later on Thursday, Sobotka could go to Prague Castle to inform President Zeman about the coalition pact.
In the five-hour talks on Tuesday, the CSSD, ANO and the KDU-CSL negotiators agreed on abolishing the regulatory fees patients pay for a visit to a doctor and for a medical prescription. The fees patients pay for stay in hospital should not be reintroduced, according to Sobotka, though the Chamber of Deputies approved a bill on their reintroduction in first reading on Tuesday.
The financial gap will be compensated by the Health Ministry's new directive setting the prices of treatment.
In the tax area, a new, second reduced VAT rate of 5 percent will be introduced. It will apply to medicines, books, diapers and baby food.
At present there are two VAT rates, the basic and the lower ones of 21 and 15 percent, respectively.
Neither the income nor corporate tax will be raised. The question of whether to introduce a sector tax, that would apply to selected branches, remains open, the negotiators said.
Taxes would not be changed before 2015. The coalition will prefer following the path of money saving, the negotiators agreed.
The coalition wants to reintroduce a tax relief for working pensioners and also to gradually increase the minimum wage to bring it close to 40 percent of the country's average gross monthly wage, which is about 25,000 crowns now.
The CSSD, which won the October general election, together with its centrist partners ANO and the KDU-CSL have 111 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
($1=19.963 crowns)
CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 11 (CTK) - The introduction of a sector tax on which the nascent Czech government coalition of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) may agree in the case of the bank sector is a quite tricky issue, Jan Machacek writes in the daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

Not only an orthodox neo-liberalist would agree that all kinds of businesses should have the same tax burden, with some exceptions, such as a special tax on tobacco and alcohol products, Machacek writes.
He also asks why a new sector tax should apply to banks only and not to the energy industry or telecommunications, for example.
Machacek also recalls that the experience with sector taxes in Hungary is clearly negative. Besides, it is often connected with the rise in authoritarianism in Central Europe, he points out.
However, if the bank sector is the precondition for a new government coalition and if the Jiri Rusnok government along with President Milos Zeman, who appointed it despite the parliament's will, kept governing in the country without it, it would be better if the tax were introduced. Moreover, Zeman's team would introduce it anyway, Machacek concludes.

A "little deal" that looks like "a ticket to the Paradise" but will be hard to fulfil, Martin Zverina writes on the first draft coalition agreement of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), in Lidove noviny (LN) today.
The right-left government is promising everything to everyone, all will win and no one lose if its programme is materialised. Some of the planned measures seem reasonable, others are well known from the previous cabinets, while some seem very absurd, Zverina writes.
All coalitions express strong optimism at the very beginning but the optimism of this coalition is "built on water," he says, adding that some of its promises are completely contradictory.
In addition, the coalition agreement is to include safeguard to prevent the parties from outvoting one another in the Chamber of Deputies, with the aid of another party in parliament, Zverina recalls.
If the coalition does not trust in its unity even in the first significant vote in the Chamber of Deputies - the vote of confidence, do other promises it has made matter? Zverina asks in conclusion.

Future Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka, leader of the Social Democrats (CSSD), will have to fight with President Milos Zeman's ill will and this battle seems to last long, Josef Kopecky writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.
Zeman recently raised objections to some potential candidates for ministers in the nascent coalition government of Sobotka though he clearly said in the summer, when assessing "his" caretaker cabinet of Jiri Rusnok, that the prime minister has the full right to decide on his cabinet's composition, Kopecky recalls.
It seems that Zeman is expediently changing his opinion if it suits him, he adds.
No professional qualities of the candidates for ministers are actually at stake in the dispute between Sobotka and Zeman. This is a battle with a politician whose decision-making is driven by his vengefulness. This is a fight with ill will that will not end with the appointment of new ministers, Kopecky concludes in MfD.
CTK

Czech CSSD, ANO, KDU-CSL agree on draft govt coalition agreement
Prague, Dec 11 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) agreed on a coalition agreement after solving all persisting points of controversy in negotiations late on Tuesday, Bohuslav Sobotka said, adding that the pact will be signed on Thursday and disclosed on Friday.

Sobotka, CSSD chairman, is supposed to head a coalition cabinet the three parties are planning to form.
The parties' position differed mainly in the areas of taxes and health care, Sobotka told journalists, referring to Tuesday's five-hour negotiations that ended only after midnight today.
He said taxes could be changed as from 2015 at the earliest, Sobotka said.
The coalition finally agreed on abolishing the regulatory fees patients pay for a visit to a doctor and for a medical prescription.
The financial gap will be compensated by the Health Ministry's new directive setting the prices of treatment.
Patients' fees for a visit to an emergency room will be preserved, and the fees people pay for stay in hospital will be reimposed after being scrapped by the Constitutional Court, Sobotka said, referring to the relevant bill the Chamber of Deputies approved in first reading on Tuesday.
In the tax area, a new, second reduced VAT rate of 5 percent will be introduced. It will apply to medicines, books, diapers and baby food.
At present there are two VAT rates, the basic and the lower ones of 21 and 15 percent, respectively.
Neither the income nor corporate tax will be raised. The question of whether to introduce a sector tax, that would apply to selected branches, remains open, the negotiators said.
Sobotka said the coalition agreement will also include a measure preventing the abuse of the tax system by some self-employed people who do not pay taxes over alleged permanent business losses.
The coalition wants to reintroduce a tax relief for working pensioners and also to gradually increase the minimum wage to bring it close to 40 percent of the country's average wage, Sobotka said.
ANO deputies' group chairman Jaroslav Faltynek said the coalition will follow the path of money saving.
"I thank my colleagues for our success in finding a common denominator of our diametrally different election manifestos," Faltynek said, referring to the programmes with which each of the three parties ran in the October 25-26 general election.
In the negotiations, the CSSD pushed for an increase in the corporate tax and for the introduction of the sector tax.
The issue is settled in the coalition agreement, Faltynek said without elaborating.
KDU-CSL deputy chairman Marian Jurecka welcomed it that the pact includes a tax relief for families, which was the KDU-CSL's priority.
Sobotka said the coalition representatives will meet to sign the coalition agreement on Thursday.
"We want the coalition agreement to be signed not only by the heads of the coalition parties but also all coalition deputies," Sobotka said.
After the parties approve the pact's programme part each on its leadership level, they will start negotiations about the division and personnel filling of ministries so that Sobotka can submit a proposal for the cabinet's appointment to President Milos Zeman by the end of the year, Sobotka said.
The CSSD won the October elections, closely trailed by entrepreneur Andrej Babis's ANO movement, a newcomer in parliament.
The centrist KDU-CSL re-entered the Chamber of Deputies after a three-year pause as one of the minor parties in it.
The CSSD with 50 seats, ANO with 47 and the KDU-CSL with 14 together command 111 votes in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
CTK

Bow tie, pipe alone cannot win elections for Czech TOP 09 - press
Prague, Dec 11 (CTK) - Theoretical talk about low taxes or budgetary cuts, not to say a mere bow tie with a pipe are sufficient for an election win even if Sobotka, Babis and others' rule ended in a clear fiasco, Josef Mlejnek writes today in daily Lidove noviny (LN) about TOP 09's weekend congress.

Social Democrat (CSSD) head Bohuslav Sobotka, ANO chairman Andrej Babis and Christian Democrat (KDU-CL) leader Pavel Belobradek are now negotiating about a future government coalition.
Mlejnek writes that the former government TOP 09 party did not make any changes in its leadership at the weekend congress, which is noteworthy after it lost the recent early general election.
The congress re-elected Karel Schwarzenberg, 75, to the head of the party. It actually could do nothing else because it has suffered from a personnel crisis since it was founded in 2009. Its image depends on Schwarzenberg, Mlejnek writes.
The party's personnel crisis was also in the crushing failure of Mayor of Prague Tomas Hudecek to be elected a deputy chairman, Mlejnek writes.
He points out that Hudecek is currently TOP 09's highest placed representative in executive power and the city's management is in fact a nationwide political post, both in terms of the volume of financial means that flow via the Prague City Hall and in terms of media attention, Mlejnek writes.
He writes that Hudecek paid dearly for the Prague tunnel Blanka project launched under Pavel Bem (Civic Democrats, ODS), which was to be completed this year, but the date has been postponed until 2014, while huge corruption is suspected in the construction.
Mlejnek writes that not only in politics is it more important how things appear than what they really are like. Perhaps no one knows the real facts about the Blanka project, but almost everyone know that it looks rather suspiciously.
Kalousek, former Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) head and later a regular member, who founded TOP 09 that scored success in the 2010 general election thanks to the charismatic personality of Prince Schwarzenberg has long been unsuccessfully seeking a replacement for him.
He has once tried it also via the City Hall with former Czech National Bank (CNB) governor Zdenek Tuma at head of the party's list of candidates. Tuma secured a majority for the party in the Prague assembly, but only a relative one, Mlejnek writes.
The party's rivals joined forces and the Prague management went through various twists and turns until Tuma lost interest in the post of mayor, Mlejnek writes.
The latest change at the head of Prague (Hudecek) was probably also motivated by Kalousek's effort to remove the dangerous rival, former mayor Bohuslav Svoboda (ODS), Mlejnek writes.
He writes that Kalousek's appetite to "shoot" at ODS politicians is motivated by his effort to play the main role on the right, where the ODS led until last spring.
Mlejnek writes that the ODS should expect the first attack by Kalousek as soon as it elects its new chairperson in January. In the meantime, Kalousek has been keeping fit verbally attacking billionaire Babis whose ANO succeeded in the October elections.
Mlejnek writes that Kalousek's attacks can only be epxlained by his need to do some unnecessary noise before his party's congress.
The main reason may be that ANO has the effect of magnet on many rightist voters, which will force TOP 09 to wage a war for the right's leader on two fronts, which does not rule out forming tactical alliances with both rivals, however, Mĺejnek writes.
However, TOP 09 is not sufficiently armed for such a cruel struggle, not only because it has no other flag bearer for the (media) first line and because Schwarzenberg has probably already exhausted his offensive potential in the unsuccessful presidential election in January, Mlejnek writes.
TOP 09, including the allied Mayors (STAN) of Petr Gazdik, is relatively weak in regional and local politics which is nothing good for the future while next year's local elections will be of fundamental importance for the survival of the current right - TOP 09 and the ODS, Mlejnek writes.
But this does not only apply to these parties only. The opposition benches have at a first one great advantage besides many serious disadvantages: the rival plays first fiddle, but he is not much good at it. In this situation relatively little is needed to score an election success: to simply to exist, to let people know of one's own existence, Mlejnek writes.
However, at the time of economic and political crises, at the time of media hunts and fierce marketing campaigns the above described law cannot be fully relied on, Mlejnek writes.
He writes that that is why the right needs some kind of redefinition, ideological revival, because otherwise voters will not consider it attractive.
TOP 09 has now chosen the card of defense of parliamentary democracy. But how does it want to defend it if it has yet been unable to cooperate more closely with the ODS in parliament? Mlejnek asks.
Since they were beaten in the recent elections, TOP 09 and the ODS have rather continued in their cold war. They have together 42 mandates in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, while minimally 50 lawmakers are needed to provoke a vote of no confidence in the government, for instance, Mlejnek writes.
He writes that TOP 09 alone cannot win the struggle for the leader on the right or at the cost of marginalization of the liberal-conservative right as an independent and influential political stream in the country only.
CTK

Czech chief of staff unharmed in attack on Kabul air base
Kabul, Dec 11 (CTK special correspondent) - Czech chief of staff Petr Pavel was at the air base in Kabul at the time when a suicide bomber attacked the ISAF troops there in the morning but neither Pavel nor any Czech soldiers at the base were injured, according to CTK information.

Czech soldiers waited at the Czech logistics centre until the alarm was called off.
General Pavel then continued his planned programme.
The suicide bomber in a car attacked the German convoy entering the Northern gate to the base at the Kabul airport this morning.
The attacker died on the spot. An allied military vehicle was destroyed and the entrance to the gate was partially damaged.
None of the German soldiers was injured.
Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message sent by the militant group's spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid.
He said the explosives detonated by a suicide bomber in a car had damaged two German vehicles and killed or injured ten soldiers.
Taliban commonly exaggerates when referring to the number of victims of its attacks on the government or foreign targets.
One of the most significant NATO-commanded forces' bases in Afghanistan is situated at the Kabul airport.
Attacks on the strictly protected airport and in its surroundings are relatively rare.
CTK
 

 

 

 

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 10 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) continue to pursue the unfavourable line painted for them by the voters in the recent general election, particularly in relation to their potential government partners, mainly the ANO movement, Petr Pesek writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today.

Instead of making use of their advantages - the election victory, political experience and possibilities of joining forces with a greater number of parties - they have found themselves on the defensive, Pesek writes.
They will probably lose more "power" ministries in the government than what is usual for the winner, Pesek writes.
And also, as expected, CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka's revolutionary euphoric support within the party has not last too long, and more difficult battles are still ahead of him, whether they are disputes with President Milos Zeman over individual ministers that are already taking shape, or the quite probable coalition squabbling, Pesek writes.

CSSD head Bohuslav Sobotka tries to look like a calm and productive government negotiator and he presents his successes in agreements about the coalition, but he is not heading a party whose smaller chiefs would wish a sovereign chairman, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in daily Pravo.
Or, it is a question of whether Sobotka will be more dependent on the rank and file and voters to whom he will be accountable, or on party brotherhoods in the regions, Mitrofanov writes.
He writes that it is no wonder that he wants the government that he will negotiate with ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) to be assessed by all CSSD members, by which he risks that they will not approve it, Mitrofanov writes.
But it can be assumed that he would resolutely alert the members before the vote to that the rejection of participation in the government would mean the party's departure into opposition and an end to all hopes of being capable of fulfilling the promises given to the voters, Mitrofanov writes.
If Sobotka won support of the whole party, however, he would also account to the whole membership, not to the central executive committee in which a coalition against the chairman can always be formed in case the regional brotherhoods draw the conclusion that his policy does not suit them, Mitrofanov writes.
That is why the idea of an all-party referendum on the government is not popular in the regions, Mitrofanov writes.

A special tax for banks that the Social Democrats (CSSD) are pushing for will be popular among people whom the banks take to the cleaners, but in fact it is a most questionable step that need not have the desired effect, Petr Honzejk writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN).
The moral problem is: higher taxation of banks has been justified in Europe by the share of the banking sector in the financial crisis and the public costs of the salvation of banks, Honzejk writes.
He writes that such justification does not work in this country [where the banks did not have this problem], however.
The practical problem is: banks are waiting for further European regulations, higher demands for capital adequacy. In combination with a higher tax this can raise the prices of credits and negatively impact on the Czech economy, Honzejk writes.
The CSSD, the Christian Democrats (KDu-CSL) and ANO, the three potential government partners, should ask themselves whether this may not saw off the branch on which they are sitting, Honzejk writes.
CTK

More Syrian refugees, ill children to be treated in CzechRep
Amman, Dec 9 (CTK) - Two Syrian children, siblings suffering from the same heart defect, will arrive aboard the Czech government plane in Prague from Jordan today to undergo medical treatment within the humanitarian programme Medevac, Czech doctor Tomas Tlaskal told CTK in Amman today.

Tlaskal is a member of a four-member team of heart surgeons from Prague's Motol hospital who work in Amman within the Medevac programme.
Twelve Syrian patients, including eight adults wounded in the civil war and four kids, have received medical treatment in the Czech Republic so far.
The two children heading for Prague have been accompanied by their mother and brother.
The Czech doctors in Aman work in a private hospital that does not have its own staff to treat children with heart defects.
They performed the first of a series of planned surgeries today. They operated on a nine-year-old Syrian girl, Tlaskal said.
"The hospital staff speak English very well, they are experienced but their experience with child heart surgery is small," said Tlaskal.
He said the Czech doctors are to perform one to two operations a day next week. The patients will be mainly children coming from a Syrian refugee camp.
The Czech government approved the extension of the Medevac programme, enabling the medical treatment of patients from areas of violent conflicts, in October. The next phase's costs of 7.5 million crowns will be covered from the Interior Ministry's budget.
Refugees from the neighbouring Syria, which has been tormented by a civil war for more than two years, mean a burden for Jordan mainly now that winter has come nearer. Most recently, Jordan was forced to focus on vaccinating Syrian kids against flu.
That is why Czech representatives handed over a financial gift to the Jordanians today in support of the local health care.
($1=20.122 crowns)
CTK

Czechs more optimistic about future than in 2012- poll
Prague, Dec 9 (CTK) - Some 60 percent Czechs view their and their families' future with optimism, which is 6 percentage points more than in 2012, and 35 percent assess the prospects of Czech society optimistically (a 4-percentage-point rise), according to the latest CVVM poll released to CTK today.

Moreover, Czechs view the future of the whole humankind more optimistically than last year.
The share of Czechs who await the future developments with pessimism has decreased.
"Nevertheless, the Czech public's expectations of the future remain considerably more pessimistic than they used to be in the previous years," the CVVM pollsters said.
Thirty-eight percent of respondents see their future with pessimism, compared to 44 percent last year, while 62 percent await the future of Czech society pessimistically, which is 4 percentage points less than last year.
Besides, 60 percent of the polled view the future of the whole world in a pessimistic way.
A certain pessimism level is connected with a leftist political orientation, the pollsters say.
One-fifth of those who support the left view the future of Czech society "definitely with pessimism" and another three-fifths" rather pessimistically."
On the other hand, resolute pessimists make up 10 percent of rightist people and a half of the right-wingers are "moderate pessimists," according to the CVVM poll.
CTK

Czech CSSD, ANO propose several changes to church restitution
Prague, Dec 9 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO movement will submit several alternatives of changes to the return of communist-confiscated property to churches at a meeting with church representatives to be held in the Senate on December 17, CSSD deputy head Alena Gajduskova told CTK today.

The churches hope that a next similar meeting will be hosted by them, their representatives said.
The CSSD and ANO are negotiating about a new government that is also to include the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
"There is a slight problem on the side of the churches. I have proposed the Senate [as the meeting's venue], but it was said this is not a sufficiently neutral environment, but I believe that we will persuade them that the upper house of parliament is an enough neutral ground" Gajduskova, Senate deputy chairwoman, said earlier today.
The Czech Bishops' Conference (CBK) later said the churches and religious groups have met Gajduskova's request for now, in view of her busy schedule.
"Nevertheless, we consider the Senate a place representing the state bodies. That is why we find it necessary to emphasise that the forthcoming negotiations will be conducted on the level of the political parties involved, and we believe we can invite these parties to the church ground next time," CBK General Secretary Tomas Holub told CTK.
Under the law on state-church property settlement, which was pushed through by the previous right-wing government and took effect in January, 16 churches are to get back over the next 30 years some real estate confiscated from them by the Czechoslovak communist regime in 1948-1989, worth 75 billion crowns, plus 59 billion in compensation for unreturned property that is to be raised by inflation. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing the churches in the next 17 years.
Gajduskova said the five-member CSSD-ANO working group will go to the negotiations with several alternatives of specific figures that will concern a possible lowering of the financial compensation for the unreturned property or the inflation clause.
"We expect the church to also propose some alternatives, that it will also want to reach some agreement because no one is naturally interested in any big arbitrations or court negotiations," Gajduskova said.
She said the final arrangement should also be perceived as just by the broad public.
The CSSD, that has three representatives in the working group, is mainly striving for lowering the financial compensations, the exemption of Prague Castle from restitution and the limitation of the purpose for which the money to be paid out to churches can be used.
($1=20.122 crowns)
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Klausova to become Czech ambassador to Bratislava on January 16
Prague, Dec 10 (CTK) - Livia Klausova, wife of former president Vaclav Klaus, will officially assume the post of Czech ambassador to Slovakia on January 16 when she will hand over her credentials to Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Johana Grohova told CTK today.
Klausova, 70, arrived at the Czech embassy in Bratislava today.
Klausova feels honoured by the possibility to head the Czech embassy in Bratislava, Grohova said.
"During my mission, I want not only to follow up the excellent work of my predecessors, but also to contribute by my work to the preservation of exceptionally good relations between the Czech Republic and Slovakia," the Foreign Ministry's press section quotes Klausova as saying.
Klaus, Czech president in 2003-2013, will not move to Slovakia with his wife, according to his previous statements. He has been working in his new eponymous institute since he left the presidential post.
President Milos Zeman pushed for Klausova to become ambassador to Slovakia despite the opposition of then foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09), who lost the presidential duel to Zeman in January.
Speculations emerged saying Zeman wanted to reward Klausova for support to him in the presidential campaign.
Apart from Klausova, Zeman also insisted on Vladimir Remek, MEP for the Communists (KSCM), the first and only Czechoslovak cosmonaut, to become the new ambassador to Russia.
Remek, who also backed Zeman in the election but his nomination was rejected by Schwarzenberg, is to leave for Moscow at the beginning of 2014.
The dispute between Zeman and Schwarzenberg over Klausova and Remek blocked the process of changes in Czech ambassadorial posts for some time.
It was resolved only after the caretaker government of Jiri Rusnok with foreign minister Jan Kohout was appointed in the summer.
The Rusnok government, which Zeman appointed against the will of the Chamber of Deputies and which did not win its confidence, agreed with the nomination of Klausova and Remek for ambassadors.
Other Czech ambassadors are assuming posts these days.
Diplomat Petr Hladik has become the new ambassador to Jordan, Stanislav Kazecky is heading for the embassy in Portugal, Rudolf Hykl is the ambassador to Malaysia and Ivana Hlavsova is to head the embassy in Serbia, according to CTK sources.
CTK

 

 

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Monday,December 09, 2013

Big realignment of forces ahead of Czech right - press
Prague, Dec 9 (CTK) - The Czech right faces a big realignment of forces, which is clear when looking at the political scene full of difficult-to-define entities, and the former cabinet parties are now playing for their place in the new arrangement, Bohumil Pecinka writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.

He writes that Karel Schwarzenberg, shortly after he was re-elected TOP 09 chairman on Sunday, said nothing unites so much as "common licking,! referring to possible cooperation with the Civic Democrats (ODS).
The rightist TOP 09 and the ODS were members of the previous centre-right coalition government of ODS head Petr Necas that fell in June. They both suffered a defeat in the recent early general election and will go into opposition.
Pecinka writes that the two parties were competing for the leading post on the right so long until the world in which they wanted to play first fiddle has completely changed.
After the recent early general election it is no longer important who dominates the right or the left, and Czech politics has temporarily changed its form, Pecinka writes.
He writes that voters suddenly consider it more important who is representative of the "old" or "new" party. TOP 09 and the ODS were competing so hard until they fell into insignificance, Pecinka writes.
Former education minister Petr Fiala, now a member of the Chamber of Deputies, announced at the weekend he will be running for the post of ODS chairman on January 18, Pecinka writes.
In his speech Fiala said the ODS has ceased to function as a political party by which it threatened its position in the political system.
The ODS abandoned its ideas and it eventually ceased to represent the interests of its voters, mainly small tradespeople and businesspeople, Pecinka quotes Fiala as saying.
Pecinka writes that Fiala called for the renovation of the party, but he did not say how the ODS should function in parliament, particularly in the opposition.
Unlike the ODS, TOP 09 did not reflect much on its election failure, which was not that big like the ODS's, however, until former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek, re-elected the party's first deputy chairman, addressed the conference, Pecinka writes.
He writes that this has been Kalousek's best speech since December 2003 when he was surprisingly elected chairman of the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), of which he was a member then.
Kalousek formulated an opposition programme against the current government. He called for the rehabilitation of the term politics and political party and warned about the autocratic tendencies shown by both the prime minister and the new parties in parliament, mainly billionaire Andrej Babis's ANO movement, Pecinka writes.
The core of Kalousek's speech, Pecinka writes, was a warning about conflict of interests connected with some big businesspeople becoming ministers, hinting again at ANO.
Pecinka writes that according to Kalousek the problem is no longer about whether someone corrupts someone else with a box full of money, but the corrupt environment is assuming a new dimension, which Kalousek described with the slogan "one's own Godfather, one's own client."
The two general elections (2010, 2013) that were held in the spirit of protest against the post-communist system, have produced an unclear situation in which everyone is trying to find an answer to how to live in unusual conditions, Pecinka writes.
He writes that a big part of the public lives in the spirit of negation of the past 24 years and is in fact calling for a return of the certainties of the past regime while free borders and full supermarkets would be preserved, Pecinka writes.
This demand may encourage attempts to lend the social arrangement an authoritative shape, to centralise and interlink the business of the state and with the state, and at the same time to shift a part of power towards repressive forces, Pecinka writes.
The new right, whether it comprises TOP 09 and the ODS, or whether it arises from entirely new bases, should play the role of defender of liberal freedoms in such an arrangement, Pecinka writes.
CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 9 (CTK) - There is the question of how long will it take to Czech TOP 09 to climb back to the top, Lukas Jelinek asks in Pravo, analysing the party's weekend congress at which its leader Karel Schwarzenberg was confirmed in the post of party leader.

In fact, the party cannot make do without collaboration with the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Jelinek writes.
The party has allowed for it in the contest for the posts in the Senate, while the ODS is also thinking of a concerted effort in other types of elections, he adds.
However, the ODS is also a rival of TOP 09, Jelinek writes.
This makes it clear that instead of duels for the government in the country, there may be a duel for the right-wing electorate between them in near future, he adds.

People usually change their behavior when things go wrong, but at its weekend congress, TOP 09 showed it would not change anything, Petr Honzejk writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN).
By re-electing Schwarzenberg with a crushing majority, it showed it is a petrified party of the leadership type in which no new personalities are born, Honzejk writes.
As far as the party's programme is concerned, no reflexion of its own failure, no search for the ways with which to turn the tide could be seen, he adds.
In fact, the message is as follows: let us do it as before, he adds.
No one asked the question that may be crucial in the future: how to explain to the voters in what TOP 09 actually differs from the ODS. If the ODS is headed by the moderate and cultivated sceptic Petr Fiala, the differing attitude to the EU will not be sufficient, Honzejk writes.

Czech Social Democrats may have the same reason as their German counterparts, the SPD, when considering calling a party referendum on its coalition government with agro and media mogul Andrej Babis's ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), Milos Balaban writes in Pravo.
The reason may be the same: to get a stronger political mandate for the conclusion of a coalition pact that will mean, on account of the compromises caused by only a narrow election victory, that the Social Democrats will be unable to fulfil all the objectives from their programme, Balaban writes.
In fact, the referendum is to decide on whether the Social Democrats will choose marginalisation of their influence on political developments if the coalition pact is rejected, he adds.
Every realistically thinking Social Democrat must take it into account that the governance of three, often politically incompatible partners, will be no stroll through a rosy park, Balaban writes.
CTK

Zeman to attend Sochi games, ready to comment on human rights
Prague, Dec 8 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman, unlike his German counterpart Joachim Gauck, will not boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics but in Russia he is ready to tell his opinion about the state of human rights in the country, he said in the Talks from Lany interview on Czech Radio today.

The Sochi games, a top sport event, have been boycotted by a number of world personalities in reaction to a Russian law banning the promotion of homosexuality.
According to Zeman, it is better to voice one's critical view personally in Russia.
"At a possible press conference I can say I disapprove of this act, though I'm a heterosexual myself, as I believe that sexual orientation is a private matter of every of us and that it should not mingle with politics," Zeman said.
He said the German president could have done the same.
Zeman said he will go to Sochi for two days to encourage the Czech contesters.
According to CTK's information, Zeman is to attend in Russia a reception of heads of state hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin and minister of sports.
In late October, doctors forbade Zeman to travel abroad until the end of the year over a knee injury. He is expected to resume foreign trips as of next year.
He told Czech Radio today that he may visit Czech soldiers in Afghanistan soon, probably in January. He was originally scheduled to visit the Czech members of the ISAF mission late this year.
CTK

Prague gives money to Bulgaria to help it treat Syrian refugees
Prague, Dec 8 (CTK) - The Czech Republic will provide 25 million crowns to Bulgaria to help it treat Syrian refugees, based on a declaration Interior Minister Martin Pecina and his Bulgarian counterpart Tsvetlin Yovchev will sign in Sofia on Monday, the ministry's spokeswoman told CTK today.

The spokeswoman, Denisa Cermakova, said the Czech cabinet of Jiri Rusnok decided on earmarking the sum in early November.
She said the money should help Bulgaria cope with the influx of Syrian refugees. It should be mainly spent on material and logistic equipment of refugee housing centres and on building new facilities for refugees.
The Czech cabinet in early November decided to send an instant aid of 50 million crowns to the countries with a high number of Syrian refugees, mainly Turkey and Bulgaria.
Pecina has already handed a symbolic cheque worth 500,000 euros to Turkey.
The Czech Republic has provided money for humanitarian aid to the given region repeatedly.
Besides, 12 Syrian patients received medical treatment in the Czech Republic.
The Czech cabinet also approved the extension of the Medevac programme of medical aid to refugees in Jordan and to Syrian patients in the Czech Republic.
About 120,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict since it broke out 2.5 years ago, and over two million have fled the country, mainly to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
The number of Syrian applicants for asylum in the EU has been on the rise.
($1=20.122 crowns)
CTK

Czech ForMin to attend South African event in honour of Mandela
Prague, Dec 8 (CTK) - Foreign Minister Jan Kohout will represent the Czech Republic at Tuesday's event in honour of the late former South African President Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, and on Wednesday he will pay homage to Mandela in Pretoria, the Foreign Ministry told CTK today.

The ministry's spokeswoman Johana Grohova said the event commemorating Mandela, a human rights fighter and Nobel Peace Prize holder who died on Thursday at the age of 95, will be held at Johannesburg's stadium with the capacity of 95,000 people.
"The minister will leave for South Africa on Monday, probably using a regular flight, not a government plane," Grohova said.
Afterwards Kohout will move to Pretoria where Mandela's remains will be displayed from Wednesday to Friday.
The Czech Republic will not have an official representation at Mandela's state funeral in his native village Qunu in southeast South Africa, Grohova said.
The Tuesday event in Johannesburg will be attended by a number of significant world politicians including U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife, French President Francois Hollande, German President Joachim Gauck as well as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
On Saturday, a video with a conversation between Czech PM Jiri Rusnok and Defence Minister Vlastimil Picek appeared on the Internet, in which Rusnok indicates that he does not feel like to go to South Africa on Prague's behalf.
"I'm trembling [with fear] of having to go there," Rusnok told Picek off record, but his words were caught by the microphones in the Chamber of Deputies.
Rusnok apologised for his words in a sms message sent to CTK later on Saturday.
"It was not appropriate to express myself this way in connection with the death of President Nelson Mandela and I regret having done so," Rusnok wrote.
Rusnok's faux pas and his apology have been mentioned by some world media.
Shortly before pronouncing the embarrassing words, Rusnok voiced his deep sorrow at Mandela's death in a letter of condolences, the French press agency AFP recalled.
CTK

 

 

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Sunday, December 08,2013

Schwarzenberg re-elected chairman of Czech TOP 09
Prague, Dec 8 (CTK) - Karel Schwarzenberg was re-elected chairman of the Czech conservative TOP 09 by its congress in Prague today, being the only candidate for the top party post.

Schwarzenberg, former foreign minister who will turn 76 next week, has led TOP 09 since its establishment in 2009. His re-election was expected.
Schwarzenberg thanked the delegates for confidence placed in him.
"I hope I won't fail your expecations. Be aware that you have elected a person who will not spare you in the years to come. We will work in order to save freedom and democracy," Schwarzenberg said.
He said TOP 09 must clearly distinguish itself from ANO and the Dawn of Direct Democracy, two movements which newly entered the Chamber of Deputies in the October elections and which Schwarzenberg described as populist parties.
"If we continue to be what we are, a party without big promises..., a party that works consistently, I'm convinced that our voters will recognise it," Schwarzenberg told the delegates.
He said changes in politics cannot be achieved without permanent work, including on minor tasks.
Although TOP 09 will end in opposition after the October polls, in which it gained 12 percent of the vote and 26 of the 200 lower house seats, it should not feel discouraged, Schwarzenberg said.
"Let's be calm but let's work hard. There must be a clear division line between us and irresponsible politics," he said.
CTK

Czech Romany party wants to debate social issues with next govt
Prague, Dec 7 (CTK) - The Czech left-wing Romany Democratic Party (RDS) wants to conduct a dialogue with the Czech cabinet that is being formed now, and discuss bills on social businesses and social housing with it, a RDS programme conference decided today.

The party will also seek a change to the law on public procurement, the delegates decided.
The RDS today protested against the position of the Senate, the upper house of Czech parliament, which has rejected the Council of the EU's recommendation concerning effective measures in support of Romany integration.
RDS leaders said they want to meet President Milos Zeman, possibly next week or in early January, and the heads of both houses of parliament.
"We firmly believe that the social-friendly government of Mr [Bohuslav] Sobotka, which is to take power, will conduct a dialogue with us on the work conditions and dignified housing for Romanies and low-income people," RDS chairman Miroslav Tancos told CTK.
Sobotka's Social Democrats (CSSD), who won the October general election, are conducting government-forming negotiations with two centrist partners, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
"All delegates resolutely disapprove the behaviour and the stand of the Czech senators who have turned down the EC's position," Tancos said.
A few weeks ago, the Senate stood up to the proposed introduction of social measures according to an ethnic criterion. It said neither the Czech Republic's constitutional order nor its international commitments enable it to apply ethnic criteria in targeting social aid recipients.
In future, the RSD also wants to seek an improvement of conditions in dormitories accommodating the lowest-income people and solve the situation of homeless people.
The RDS was established in August 2013. With a total of 1700 members, it is represented in eight of the country's 14 regions for now.
CTK

TOP 09 to promote budget responsibility, better Czech image in EU
Prague, Dec 7 (CTK) - The Czech conservative party TOP 09 will push for budget responsibility, a free movement of students and workforce in the EU, and also for a better image of the Czech Republic, it ensues from the basic points of the programme for the 2014 EP elections that a TOP 09 congress approved today.

The opposition TOP 09's executive committee has been asked to complete the election programme in accordance with the proposals made by the delegates today.
TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg, who was foreign minister until June, said European policy has always been in focus of the party's interest.
Jaromir Drabek, former labour and social affairs minister, said the Czech Republic should not take an opposition approach to the EU and be a constant complainant. He said TOP 09 will strive to implement the values the EU is based on.
He may have alluded to the Eurosceptic Civic Democratic Party (ODS), TOP 09's senior partner in the previous government (2010-June 2013).
As far as the EU budget is concerned, TOP 09 will push for money to be saved on the pay of EU bureaucrats as well as MEPs.
TOP 09 wants the Czech Republic to join the EU's fiscal pact and not to challenge its own pledge to introduce the euro, it says.
Unlike other parties' representatives, TOP 09 does not seek a referendum on the introduction of the euro.
"We want to schedule the euro's adoption for the moment when we are prepared for it and when it is advantageous for us. We will enter the euro zone as soon as the situation in it gets stabilised," said TOP 09 first deputy chairman and former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek.
TOP 09 also wants to push for a free movement of people and services. Its another priority is a quicker and more effective enforcement of verdicts ruled by a court in an EU state, in another member state, the party said.
CTK

ODS's Nemcova offers cooperation in Czech Senate polls to TOP 09
Prague, Dec 7 (CTK) - Czech Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy chairwoman Miroslava Nemcova today offered cooperation in the 2014 Senate elections to conservative TOP 09, the ODS's former junior government partner that has now replaced it as the Czech right's leader, at a TOP 09 national congress today.

She said the two rightist parties could field a joint candidate in some election wards.
TOP 09 deputy chairwoman Helena Langsadlova said TOP 09 is not opposed to cooperating with the ODS, but it is too early to discuss it now.
"In the Senate elections, in some wards we can agree on the candidate for either the ODS or TOP 09, who would have a bigger chance [of being elected], being supported by the other party," Nemcova said.
As a result, the two parties would not battle against each other and they could have a better chance to beat the leftist rivals, Nemcova said.
The ODS and TOP 09 may also apply this method in local elections in some towns, she said.
TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg said the ODS and TOP 09, now both in opposition after the late October general election, should more cooperate with each other.
It will depend on who the ODS's next head will be and how the ODS will get stabilised, he said.
"I'm ready for a very close cooperation," Schwarzenberg told journalists, adding that like Nemcova, he can imagine bilateral cooperation mainly in the Senate elections.
The Senate, the upper house of parliament, is dominated by the Social Democrats (CSSD) who won several Senate polls in a row.
TOP 09 deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek pointed out that cooperation between TOP 09 and the ODS is impossible in the 2014 elections to the European Parliament, in which they run each with a different programme.
Unlike the pro-EU TOP 09, the ODS, founded and formerly led by well-known Eurosceptic Vaclav Klaus, presents itself as Euro-realist.
Nemcova, former lower house head, previously announced her candidacy for the vacant post of ODS chairperson, which Petr Necas and then PM left over a scandal of his aide in June.
Earlier today, candidacy for ODS chairmanship was also announced by former education minister Petr Fiala.
Schwarzenberg said he highly respects both Nemcova and Fiala and can imagine cooperation with both of them.
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Slovak governing party keeps silent on its presidential candidate
Nitra, West Slovakia, Dec 7 (CTK) - Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico's governing party Smer-Social Democrats did not announce the long-awaited name of the candidate to run for it in the presidential election next year at the party's annual conference today.

Fico, who would win the first round of the direct election next spring, according to public opinion polls, only told the delegates today that the party will field its candidate.
The Slovak media and political analysts have been speculating for long that Fico will finally enter the presidential race, though he previously repeatedly said he was not eyeing the presidential polls.
Fico's election as president would mean the fall of his one-party cabinet, since under the constitution the mandate of a member of the cabinet expires on the day he/she is elected president.
The prime minister's resignation means the end of the whole cabinet.
Smer-SD, nevertheless, would probably have no problem forming a new cabinet, as it has a comfortable majority in parliament which it gained in the March 2012 elections.
Fico was Slovak prime minister once before, in 2006-2010, when his Smer-SD was the senior partner in a coalition government.
Smer-SD was originally expected to announce its presidential candidate at the conference today. Fico recently said this is improbable but that the party would choose its candidate before the end of the year.
"Smer must field its own candidate in the presidential polls. The scenario is clear already now, everybody will go against Smer and its candidate," Fico said today.
About a dozen candidates have announced candidacy for the post of president, most recently Milan Knazko, a popular actor and former politician.
According to observers, Smer-SD is reluctant to choose its candidate also out of fear that the party's popularity may decline with Fico becoming president.
The date of the presidential polls is not yet known. The first round has to take place in mid-April at the latest, however.
The incumbent President Ivan Gasparovic's second five-year tenure expires in June, and he cannot seek re-election.
CTK

 

 

 

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Saturday, December 07, 2013

Czech TOP 09 party to elect new leadership at weekend
Prague, Dec 6 (CTK) - The Czech opposition conservative TOP 09 will elect a new leadership at its weekend congress on December 7-8 when its chairman Karel Schwarzenberg, heading the party since its establishment in 2009, and first deputy head Miroslav Kalousek are expected to defend their posts.

On the other hand, former labour and social affairs minister Jaromir Drabek will probably leave the party's leadership.
Drabek, who resigned in October 2012 after his first deputy Vladimir Siska was accused of corruption, was sharply criticised over his ministry's controversial project of electronic social cards (sCards) for welfare payments, which was scrapped eventually.
The TOP 09 congress will start symbolically at 09:09 on Saturday, December 7. The first day's programme includes the chairman's report, the guests' speeches and a programme debate.
TOP 09, member of the previous government coalition with the Civic Democrats (ODS) and Public Affairs (later replaced by LIDEM), has four deputy chairpersons and another five elected members of the presidium.
Marek Zenisek and Helena Langsadlova are to be defending the seats in the presidium, according to CTK sources.
Former health minister Leos Heger and Pavol Luksa, head of the party's Moravian-Silesian regional branch, may also return to the presidium.
Other potential candidates are Jan Vitula, head of the South Moravian regional branch, and deputy environment minister Tomas Tesar.
Prague may be represented by Prague Mayor Tomas Hudecek or his deputy Jiri Vavra in the TOP 09 leadership.
The congress delegates should also elect members of the party's executive committee and constitute a new arbitration committee and an auditcommission.
"The congress will be important not only because it will elect a new leadership. I also expect it to be a platform for crucial discussions about our strategy as an opposition party in the upcoming period," Kalousek told CTK previously.
At the congress, TOP 09 also wants to start preparing for the EP and local elections to be held next year.
A total of 177 delegates have been invited to the congress.
The guests include ODS deputy chairwoman Miroslava Nemcova, Petr Gazdik, chairman of the TOP 09's partner movement Mayors and Independents (STAN), and Slovak Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) head Pavol Freso.
TOP 09, along with STAN, finished fourth gaining 12 percent of the vote and 26 seats in the Chamber of Deputies in the October 25-26 early general election. In the previous polls in 2010, it won 16.7 percent.
After the October elections, Schwarzenberg announced that the party would leave for opposition.
The winning Social Democrats (CSSD), the ANO movement and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) are negotiating about a future government coalition.
TOP 09 was established in June 2009 being initiated by dissatisfied members of the KDU-CSL headed by former KDU-CSL chairman Kalousek, and some other personalities, primarily Schwarzenberg.
CTK

Czech president, diplomacy pay tribute to Mandela
Prague, Dec 6 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman today expressed deep respect for former South Africa's president and apartheid fighter Nelson Mandela who died at the age of 95 on Thursday and the Czech Foreign Ministry told CTK a symbol of the fight for human rights has left.

"We bow our heads in deep respect before this man who spent a large part of his life in prison for his fight against an unjust regime dividing people not according to their abilities but according to the colour of their skin," Zeman said.
Potential next prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Czech Social Democrats, CSSD) said Mandela was a brave and resilient personality who lived to see the fulfilling of his ideal, which many people in the past did not achieve.
"I believe that all of us followed the fight for the equality of the black minority in South Africa with great sympathy years ago," Sobotka told CTK.
The Czech Foreign Ministry officially offered condolences to Mandela's family and to the South African people.
Outgoing Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said the life story of Mandela reflected South Africa's complicated path towards democracy and his determination will be always inspiring for all people devoted to freedom and democracy.
Former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) said Mandela was a great man and a symbol of reconciliation.
Schwarzenberg recalled that he met Mandela at a world forum in Davos, Switzerland in 1990 when he headed the Czech presidential office of Vaclav Havel.
"He talked to me as if we had been old friends," Schwarzenberg told CTK about Mandela.
"Of course, this was not because of me. He knew that Vaclav Havel had the same vision as he, that we were on the same side of the barricade and that fight for freedom and truth is not just a South African problem, but a universal one. And that we must be pushing it through," Schwarzenberg said.
The Vaclav Havel Library looking after Havel's legacy said Mandela was one of the most important human rights fighters in the latter half of the 20th century.
Both Havel, former dissident and later Czechoslovak and Czech president, and Mandela had a private meeting in Prague in 1992. The library has published the letters Havel wrote to Mandela.
Chamber of Deputies chairman Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said Mandela has become an unchallengeable symbol of the struggle against lawlessness and racial intolerance.
"Nelson Mandela subordinated his freedom to the struggle for others' freedom. His life, in which humility and courage were combined, will for ever be an example of that people can change the course of history," Senate chairman Milan Stech (CSSD) said.
Mandela spent 27 years in prison for anti-racist stances, In 1994, he won the South African election, which meant the end of apartheid in the country. He was the country's first black president, ruling until 1999. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for his effort to reconcile the white and black inhabitants. He suffered from serious health troubles recently.
CTK

Longest talks await new Czech government negotiators on Saturday
Prague, Dec 6 (CTK) - The new government negotiators from the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD), ANO movement and Christian Democratic Party (KDU-CSL) probably face the longest and most complicated talks on Saturday for which they have reserved the whole day
.

They would like to more or less complete the negotiations about the procedural as well as programme parts of the prepared coalition agreement.
The negotiations about taxes and health care are expected to be the most demanding in the programme part.
CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka has said the Saturday meeting will be of key importance.
"I have asked the partners to be available for the whole of Saturday. We start at 9:00 CET and we have not set any time limits. We want to discuss everything that all (expert) teams have agreed on so that we can make big progress in the programme discussion," Sobotka told CTK earlier this week.
ANO chairman Andrej Babis did not have such a clear idea of the negotiations. He said he will still meet ANO's experts.
KDU-CSL first deputy chairman Marian Jurecka will also make preparations for the negotiations with representatives of the party's expert teams.
He will represent the party's chairman Pavel Belobradek, who has left for a 12-day study stay in the United States.
The parties' experts have said a relatively big agreement exists in all teams while discords still persist in the sphere of taxes.
The KDU-CSL would like to push through tax reliefs for families with children that would translate into an increase of 18 to 20 million crowns in spendings.
"I do not think that we should motivate young people to have children by lower taxes," Babis reacted to the stand.
The parties also disagree on the introduction of individuals' progressive taxation which is supported by the CSSD and KDU-CSL while ANO is against it.
The parties are also disunited on "sector" taxes, to apply to banks most of all.
However, according to ihned.cz server today, the taxes could eventually be introduced thanks to ANO's concessions.
Agreement in the procedural part of the future coalition could be easier to reach. The parties will probably talk mainly about the KDU-CSL-proposed safeguard against a coalition party being outvoted with the help of the opposition.
It is expected that the final text of the coalition agreement could be ready by Wednesday. The parties will approve it either electronically, or at another personal meeting.
Sobotka would like to present the final form to the text to the party's central executive committee on December 14.
CTK

Czech lower house passes 2014 state budget basic parameters
Prague, Dec 6 (CTK) - The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, passed the basic parameters of the state budget for 2014, that is its expenditures, revenues and a deficit of 112 billion crowns, which is 12 billion more than in 2013, in the first reading today.

Deputies cannot change the basic parameters after today's vote. The final approval of the budget is expected in two weeks.
The outgoing caretaker government of Jiri Rusnok today succeeded in sending the draft budget to the second reading in which it would probably be modified.
The 2014 budget bill was supported by 133 deputies, mainly from the future government coalition parties - the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), as well as the Communists (KSCM) and one MP for the Dawn of Direct Democracy.
The former government parties, the Civic Democrats (ODS) and TOP 09, voted against it.
TOP 09 failed to push through its proposal for the deficit's decrease to maximally 105 billion, which the previous coalition cabinet of Petr Necas (ODS) proposed.
Former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) in his criticism of the draft budget said the Rusnok government had increased the expenditures without justifying this step. He called the proposed expenditures unnecessarily exorbitant.
Kalousek blamed his successor Jan Fischer for having raised the estimated GDP from 0.8 to 1.3 percent under the pressure of other government members to gain money for the spendings.
Rusnok defended his cabinet and rejected Kalousek's criticism.
Fischer said the estimated 1.3 percent growth is conservative.
The Communists, too, criticised the draft budget. It lacks a sufficient pro-growth measures, KSCM deputy Jiri Dolejs said.
Dawn deputy group head Radim Fiala also challenged the 2014 budget, adding that it is based on an illusory economic growth. He, however, admitted that there were only two options, either a stop-gap budget or changes to it in second reading.
The 2014 budget counts with revenues at 1,093 billion crowns, which si 18.5 billion more than this year. Expenditures are to rise by 30.5 billion to 1,211.3 billion crowns.
The government plans to issue bonds worth 114 billion crowns over the proposed 112-billion-crown deficit.
The lower house committees are to decide on the 2014 budget chapters next week.
The second reading, in which MP can propose changes to particular chapters, is tis trat on December 16.
($1=20.195 crowns)
CTK

Zeman wants missions veterans to be Prague Castle Guard members
Prague, Dec 6 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman would like foreign missions veterans to be members of the Prague Castle Guard, he said in a speech he made on the 95th anniverary of the guard and added there are few institutions in the country with such a long history.

"The beginnings of the Castle Guard are connected with legionaries who formed the core of the original Castle Guard. I would wish modern-time legionaries, that is those who participated in foreign missions, to also gradually participate in the Castle Guard's activities," Zeman said.
The Czechoslovak legions were voluntary units that Czechs and Slovaks formed in Russia, Italy and France in World War One to help the states fight Germany and Austro-Hungary, of which the Czech Lands as well as Slovakia were part. The legions in Russia were the strongest and most important of all.
Zeman said the guard's task is not that much to protect the head of state as to guard the Castle.
Prague Castle was the seat of Bohemian princes from the 9th century. Later it hosted Czech kings and since the Czechoslovak Republic was established in 1918 it has been the seat of presidents.
Zeman said the Castle "is the biggest jewel in Prague that can be like targets in other cities threatened with an attack by international terrorism."
Zeman said the Castle Guard takes part in a number of humanitarian activities.
Its members are blood donors, they cooperate with the SOS child villages and help during floods.
Zeman handed to the Castle Guard a presidential ribbon to its banner.
The guard's commander Radim Studeny presented Zeman with a commemorative badge and a book on the history of the unit.
CTK

 

 

 

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Friday, December 06 ,2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 6 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman offered his supporters among Social Democrats (CSSD) an instruction for retaliation when he said he could appoint CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka prime minister after a CSSD referendum, Martin Zverina writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today.

If the plebiscite on the Social Democrat participation in a coalition government with ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) is not held, then he will be prepared to appoint Sobotka at the end of the year, Zverina recalls.
Zeman's offer is a signal for the camp of Michal Hasek, Sobotka's opponent in the CSSD, to start pushing for the referendum, he writes.
Zverina says Sobotka's camp are well aware that the referendum can be tricky and they won't want to risk anything, postpone the coalition's formation and prolong the rule of the outgoing government of Jiri Rusnok and provoke the public. Sobotka and his followers will find a way to stop the referendum if need be, he adds.
Scrapping of a party referendum would be something the rank and file would not like and this would certainly help rehabilitate and strengthen the pro-Zeman camp headed by Hasek, Zverina writes.
Hasek and his adherents unsuccessfully tried to remove Sobotka as CSSD chairman shortly after the late October election and they had to leave the party leadership as a result.
Sobotka will surely avoid falling in Zeman's trap, but the president is already preparing another one, Zverina concludes.

The Amazon case well illustrates the Czech attitude towards foreign investors: we want to attract them as they bring jobs and money, but when they come, we welcome them, but somewhere else, far away from our house, our garden, Julie Hrstkova says in Hospodarske noviny (HN)
The Amazon company's plan to build to distribution centres near Prague and Brno faces strong opposition by the locals whose arguments seem to be relevant: increased traffic and potential danger from new employees, probably from the East, Hrstkova notes.
Everybody in the country agrees that the Czech Republic should attract hi-tech production, but highly skilled Czech employees and experts with technological education is nothing but a myth, Hrstkova writes.

Lukas Jelinek says in Pravo that TOP 09 does not have its deputy head in the lower house of parliament, although it should have it based on the rule of relative representation of parties in the parliamentary leadership and bodies.
It is noteworthy that the loudest critic of the relative representation is Dawn of Direct Democracy leader Tomio Okamura who usually poses himself as the only real democrat, Jelinek writes.
However, now Okamura was running for the deputy chairman's post himself, he presented himself as the symbol of change and the fact that Dawn has only half the number of MPs TOP 09 has seems irrelevant to him, Jelinek says.
CTK

Schwarzenberg elected head of Czech foreign committee
Prague, Dec 5 (CTK) - Former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) was elected head of the Czech Chamber of Deputies foreign affairs committee today.

Seven parties are represented in the lower house produced by the October 25-26 election.
The defence committee will be headed by David Kadner (Dawn of Direct Democracy), the security committee by Roman Vana (Social Democrats, CSSD) and the environment committee by Robin Bohnisch (CSSD).
The economic committee will be chaired by Ivan Pilny, the education committee by Jiri Zlatuska and the health committee by Rostislav Vyzula (all ANO).
The petition committee will be headed by Zuzka Bebarova-Rujbrova (Communists, KSCM).
The seats in further committees will also be occupied on the basis of agreements. The post of chairman of the agricultural committee has gone to Jaroslav Faltynek (ANO), of the social committee to Jaroslav Zavadil (CSSD), of the European committee to Jaroslav Klaska (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) and the civil service and regional development committee to Milada Halikova (KSCM).
The election committee will be headed by Martin Komarek (ANO) and the control committee by Vladimir Konicek (KSCM).
Last week, the mandate and immunity committee chose as its chairman Marek Benda (Civic Democrats, ODS).
CTK

Babis to be Czech FinMin if service bill is passed in 1st reading
Prague, Dec 5 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman told CTK today that if the civil service bill is passed by the Chamber of Deputies in first reading in December, it will be a sufficient guarantee for him to appoint ANO leader Andrej Babis Finance Minister.

He said he has told the proposed solution to both Babis and Bohuslav Sobotka, Social Democrat (CSSD) leader and potential head of the nascent government. They accepted it, Zeman said.
The civil service law does not set a clean lustration certificate as a condition for a candidate to become minister, Zeman recalled.
Babis, an agricultural magnate, has problem gaining the certificate. He is seeking exoneration by Slovak courts in connection with a former communist secret service StB's file that mentions him as an StB collaborator.
Sobotka welcomed Zeman's words after their meeting later today.
He called them an accommodating step that may facilitate the government's formation.
Sobotka said, nevertheless, that he cannot speak on behalf of ANO, which will be deciding on its candidate for finance minister based on the agreement of the coalition partners.
Babis previously showed interest in the post of finance minister.
The lustration law, whose validity has been repeatedly extended since 1991, bans former communist repressive bodies' members, including the StB, from high state administration posts.
Zeman previously said he would not appoint anyone minister if the candidate failed to submit a clean lustration certificate.
"So let's pass the service bill. As a good will gesture towards Mr Babis, I would consider it a sufficient guarantee for my appointing him finance minister, if the bill made it through first reading [in the Chamber of Deputies] in December," Zeman told CTK.
Babis's ANO ended surprisingly strong second in the late October general election. It has 47 seats in the 200-seat parliament, compared with the election winning CSSD's 50.
Sobotka's CSSD is conducting government-forming negotiations with ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
KDU-CSL deputy chairman Marian Jurecka voiced doubt at whether the Chamber of Deputies could start debating the service bill by the end of the year.
An expert team has been established to discuss the bill, which cannot be expected to produce results in a few days or two weeks, Jurecka said.
"I think the idea of our passing a good service bill in the first reading in December is wrong," Jurecka told reporters.
In reaction to Zeman's unwillingness to appoint a minister without lustration, it was speculated that Babis may become deputy prime minister, or a cabinet member without a ministry of his own.
Zeman called a similar solution "stupid" today. He said Babis would be full-fledged member of the government only if he headed an important ministry of his own.
"Let his show his competence. Let's give a chance to him," Zeman said.
"If he became a mere deputy prime minister, he would be a decoration of the cabinet, like a ficus or an oleander tree, but nothing more," Zeman said.
CTK

Zeman's ally may influence choice of Czech foreign minister-press
Prague, Dec 6 (CTK) - Vladimir Valky's presence in a high post at the Czech Foreign Ministry is sensitive ahead of the choice of a new minister, as he is close to the SPOZ party of the fans of President Milos Zeman, who evidently wants to gain the upper hand in diplomacy, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes today.

Kohout (unaffiliated) is a member of the outgoing caretaker cabinet that Zeman appointed in July against the will of parliament.
One of Kohout's first steps as minister was the replacement of the head of the ministry's general inspection head. He filled the crucial controlling post, which supervises all Czech diplomats, with Valky, HN writes.
HN writes that Valky may not be impartial in his decisions, as it had turned out that he ran for the "presidential" Party of Citizens' Rights - the Zemanites (SPOZ) in central Bohemia in the October general election.
"This is true, but this is for the first time I hear of it. Enquiring into the ministry's political affiliation would go beyond the limits of democracy, it is his civic right [to run for a political party]," deputy minister Karel Boruvka told HN.
"We fully trust Vladimir Valky, we believe that he would never put a political party's interests above the state's," Boruvka added.
Like Valky, Boruvka was reinstalled in a senior ministerial post by Kohout, the paper writes.
Kohout brought more of his allies to the ministry, who helped him push through Zeman's favourites to the posts of Czech ambassadors earlier this year, HN recalls.
It also recalls that the Foreign Ministry has surprisingly become a bone of contention in the ongoing government-forming talks between the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
According to unofficial information, Zeman would refuse to appoint CSSD's Lubomir Zaoralek foreign minister, if asked to by the CSSD head and potential prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka, the paper says.
It says the post has been sought by Hynek Kmonicek, Zeman's ally and the Presidential Office foreign section head, who is close to the CSSD.
Valky, in his capacity as inspection head, is in charge of accepting and handling reports on mistakes and offences by Czech diplomats. He also checks the ministry's accounting, HN writes.
The twists and turns in filling the post of inspection head show how deeply politically divided Czech diplomacy is, the daily continues.
In spring 2011, Valky was dismissed as the inspection head by the then minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09), who also sacked Boruvka from the post of the IT department head.
Schwarzenberg gave Valky and Boruvka's lack of resoluteness as a reason for their dismissal.
Valky and Boruvka, both widely viewed as allies of the then opposition CSSD, asserted that they had uncovered discrepancies linked to the ministry's public procurement, which is why they had to go, HN writes.
Addressed by HN on Thursday, Schwarzenberg said Valky's performance as the chief inspector should be watched attentively.
"It is not a shining example of an apolitical state administration," Martin Stropnicky, the ANO movement's candidate for foreign minister and a former diplomat admitted in a reference to Valky.
CTK

Czech ForMin meets opposition, protesters in Ukraine
Kiev/Prague, Dec 5 (CTK) - Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout today met UDAR head Vitali Klitschko and other Ukrainian opposition leaders and he also visited the protesters in the Independence Square in Kiev where he attended a conference of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Kohout and the opposition leaders discussed the tension that escalated in Ukraine after the government's decision not to sign an association agreement with the EU.
"At the moment, I feel there is the unity of the opposition," Kohout said, adding that he did not know how long this state would last.
He also met opposition leader Arseniy Yatseniuk, from the Fatherland, and Oleh Tyahnybok, from the Freedom party.
"The fact that a demonstration was brutally dispersed, that the people who are not guilty of anything are being arrested and they will be put on trial, this is an affair that is threatening the status of Ukraine," Kohout said.
He said the passivity of the government that would not open serious talks with the opposition might result in an unpredictable situation that would destabilise not only Ukraine.
Kohout told CTK that the Ukrainian opposition speaks unanimously though it is difficult to judge who may become its main leader.
Commentators believe that Klitschko, a boxing champion without a profound political experience, has the biggest chance of becoming the opposition's national leader.
They say Klitschko owes his popularity not only to his sport achievements but mainly to having earned his wealth honestly. He is widely viewed as an honest man, unburdened with corruption or behind-the-stage deals.
In Prague, representatives of the Czech branch of Amnesty International today handed over a petition to the Ukrainian embassy.
In the past two days, the Czech AI managed to collect 650 signatures below a petition calling on Ukraine to observe the freedom of assembly and an investigation into the police's crackdown on the protesters in Kiev, the AI delegation head Martin Balcar said.
Kohout today also visited Kiev's Independence Square as the main centre of the resistance against the government and President Viktor Yanukovych.
He said he talked to the demonstrators in the square, where the atmosphere reminded of that in Prague in November 1989, when the Velvet Revolution broke out.
The people in the centre of Kiev definitely do not look like a manipulated crowd, as some government deputies have described them, Kohout told CTK.
He said on return to Prague he wants to meet the Ukrainian ambassador to present him the Czech Republic's concern about the developments in Ukraine.
The Kiev protests were mentioned by practically all Western politicians' speeches at the OSCE's conference of ministers, Kohout said.
The Reuters agency has written that the only speaker not to mention the protests in Kiev was Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
CTK


 

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Thursday, December 05,2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 5 (CTK) - The outgoing Czech caretaker government of Jiri Rusnok has no legitimacy to make any fundamental decisions but its ministers apparently do not realise it, Petr Kambersky writes in the daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

It cites the example of Finance Minister Jan Fischer whose decisions in the post raise doubts about his real intentions, Kambersky says, adding that in the past two years Fischer became the symbol of flexibility (in a negative sense) and small dirty tricks.
It is not significant that the Czech Republic has an outgoing government but that this government has never won confidence of the Chamber of Deputies and it is in power only since President Milos Zeman has appointed it, Kamberky writes.
Consequently, this unprecedentedly illegitimate cabinet should not take irreversible steps that are not necessary, he adds.
Kambersky points out that the personnel policy of the Rusnok government does not avoid cronyism either.
Yet its cronyism provokes at least a slight hope that the upcoming political government of Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka cannot be worse. Politicians want to be re-elected but people like Rusnok and Fischer do not care, Kambersky concludes.

The rules of brown-coal mining should be observed since people need some certainties, among other things, Zbynek Petracek writes in Lidove noviny (LN) today.
He comments on the attempt of the outgoing government of Jiri Rusnok to lift the coal-mining limits, which President Milos Zeman supports.
The dispute about the mining limits is a fundamental systemic issue, Petracek writes.
First the landscape as one whole is at stake, second it concerns coal as a strategic raw material and third it touches people's certainties.
Though people have not faced forced expropriation over coal mining since the amendment to the mining law was passed, the inhabitants of towns and villages in the coal localities would like to know whether it is worth investing in their houses, Petracek notes.
This is no alternative or activist stance but rather a conservative need of certainty, Petracek writes.

No new era in relations between the Czech government and opposition is emerging on the horizon, Vaclav Dolejsi writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.
He recalls that ahead of the late-October elections the Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO, potential coalition partners now, promised constructive cooperation between the government and the opposition the end of fruitless squabbles and obstructions in the Chamber of Deputies.
These parties also supported a proportional representation, which the previous right wing government ignored. This is why they promised posts in the lower house leadership to the opposition Communists (KSCM) and TOP 09, Dolejsi writes.
However, he adds, they have fulfilled only part of the promise electing KSCM leader Vojtech Filip one of the lower house deputy heads.
On the other hand, the MPs of the potential government coalition, commanding a 111-vote majority in the Chamber of Deputies, repeatedly refused to elect a TOP 09 candidate. After rejecting the "hated" TOP 09 deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek not even another, uncontroversial candidate Petr Gazdik (STAN) made it through, Dolejsi says.
It seems that nothing will change in the government-opposition relations in Czech parliament, Dolejsi writes.
CTK

Czech lawmakers to start debating 2014 draft budget on Friday
Prague, Dec 4 (CTK) - Czech lawmakers should start debating a draft state budget for 2014 on Friday, for when Chamber of Deputies chairman Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) called a session of the lower house of parliament on the proposal of the organisational committee today

The Chamber of Deputies' budget committee today recommended that the lawmakers pass the bill.
The draft budget counts with revenues at 1,093 billion crowns, which si 18.5 billion more than this year. Spendings are to rise by 30.5 billion to 1,211.3 billion crowns and the deficit is to amount to 112 billion crowns, or 12 billion crowns more than this year.
The committee did not approve former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek's (TOP 09) proposal to return the draft to the government for reworking. He insisted on the deficit not exceeding 105 billion crowns.
The draft budget is the sole point on the agenda of the session to start on Friday after the lawmakers end the current session at which they are still to confirm committee chairpersons and set up commissions.
In the first reading the lower house approves the fundamental parameters of the budget, that is the projected revenues, expenditures and deficit.
The second reading, in which lawmakers can propose money shifts and the final vote on the draft budget will be on the agenda of the next session which Hamacek convoked for next Tuesday, December 10.
According to the timetable that the budget committee of the lower house supported today, the decision-making on the draft budget should start on Thursday, December 19.
The opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) and TOP 09/STAN strongly criticised the proposed dates and the fact that the budget is to start to be discussed at a meeting convoked only hours beforehand.
TOP 09/STAN, however, speak about slowing down the approving of the budget in reaction to that the lawmakers did not elect in secret ballot their candidate Petr Gazdik for the post of deputy chairman of the lower house.
The parties of the potential new government, the Social Democrats (CSSD), the ANO movement and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), agree on the need to pass the parameters by the year's end to prevent the economy from functioning based on a stop-gap budget.
CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said previously the Chamber of Deputies could take the final vote on the budget on December 27, or possibly a few days earlier.
($1=20.222 crowns)
CTK

Czech President Zeman hopes Ukraine will sign EU association
Prague, Dec 4 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman hopes that Ukraine will finally sign the association agreement with the EU, maybe at the Eastern Partnership's Prague summit in May, his spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told CTK today, adding that Zeman is watching the Ukrainian developments attentively.

Ukraine recently switched from its pro-EU path back towards a tougher cooperation with Russia, which triggered off mass pro-European demonstrations in Kiev.
"The president is watching the situation in Ukraine attentively and he hopes that Ukraine will sign the association agreement with the EU at last. An opportunity for this may be the Eastern Partnership meeting in Prague in May," Ovcacek said.
Zeman visited Ukraine in October. During the trip and shortly afterwards he repeatedly voiced support to the pro-European efforts of Kiev and said he hoped in a quick signing of the Ukraine-EU association agreement.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, however, refused to sign the agreement at the Eastern Partnership's summit in Vilnius last week.
An Ukrainian delegation is heading for Brussels today to continue negotiating the agreement under conditions more advantageous for Kiev.
Another team of negotiators is parallelly heading for Moscow to discuss Ukraine's strategic partnership with Russia.
The EU, nevertheless, has announced that it does not intend to reopen the association agreement talks.
In Kiev and other Ukrainian towns, the opposition's protests demand the resignation of the government and of President Yanukovych, followed by early general and presidential elections.
CTK

CSSD leader, President Zeman to meet on Thursday
Prague, Dec 4 (CTK) - Social Democrat (CSSD) leader Bohuslav Sobotka, potential Czech prime minister, will meet President Milos Zeman on Thursday afternoon to keep him updated on the negotiations about the formation of the next government, according to CTK's information.

Zeman and Sobotka are to meet at 16:00. The meeting will be held at Prague Castle for the first time.
Zeman moved to the presidential seat at the castle on Tuesday, leaving the presidential chateau Lany, near Prague, where he was staying because of a knee injury due to which he had to use a wheelchair and crutches.
The website of the Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) daily paper writes that Sobotka wants to tell Zeman the names of candidates for cabinet ministers before Zeman appoints him prime minister-designate.
Sobotka and Zeman have rather tense relations. Former CSSD prime minister Zeman, around whom a new small party known as the Zemanites (SPOZ) formed several years ago, seems to have closer relations to Sobotka's opponents in the CSSD led by Michal Hasek. Media speculated that Zeman was involved in a failed attempt to remove Sobotka as party leader, due to which Hasek and his supporters left the CSSD leadership in November.
According to the CSSD proposal, the government should have 17 members - eight for the CSSD, seven for ANO and two for the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
According to CTK's sources, the KDU-CSL rejected the proposal because it wants to head three ministries, including the Agriculture Ministry.
Sobotka presented the proposal to ANO and the KDU-CSL on Tuesday.
"We still assume that we should get six ministries and the KDU-CSL should get two based on the election result," ANO leader Andrej Babis said.
The CSSD has 50 seats, ANO 47 seats and the KDU-CSL 14 seats. Their possible coalition would hold a majority of 111 votes in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
Sobotka said he believes the coalition agreement might be completed next week and both the 2014 state budget and the government lineup by the end of the year.
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Slovak broadcaster fined for Czech language for first time
Bratislava, Dec 4 (CTK) - The first fine for a Slovak television station's broadcast in Czech was imposed on the private Joj television by the Slovak Broadcasting and Retransmission Council on Tuesday, server hnonline.sk reported today.

The 200-euro fine was imposed on Joj's operator MAC TV for Joj having broadcast a programme on losing weight, the Supersize vs Superskinny TV show, with a Czech dubbing on April 27.
In doing so, it breached the law restricting the use of foreign languages and TV and radio broadcasts in Slovakia, the Broadcasts and Retransmission Council said.
As Joj breached the law once before, the council decided to punish it now.
The law restricting the use of foreign languages in broadcasts has been valid since late 2007, but no fine was imposed for Czech dubbing on Slovak TV screens before.
Only the operator of the municipal TV in Komarno, a town on the Slovak-Hungarian border, was fined 165 euros for broadcasting commercials in Hungarian, hnonline.sk writes.
The law binds Slovak TVs and radios to broadcast in Slovak, with some exceptions such as foreign songs, language courses and films broadcast in the original language with subtitles.
Czech dubbing is also permitted, but only the programmes that were already broadcast before the law took effect six years ago.
The Slovak and Czech languages are very close to each other. In the period of former Czechoslovakia (1918-1992), both were used by broadcasters and both well understood by the country's inhabitants.
CTK

 

 

 

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Wednesday, December 04,2013

New Czech lower house complete, last MP takes oath
Prague, Dec 4 (CTK) - The 200-seat lower house of Czech parliament is finally complete as Josef Kott (ANO) took his MP's oath at the beginning of the house's second session today, five weeks after the general election.

Kott was a second substitute for an ANO MP elected in the Vysocina region.
Kott is a substitute for Jan Sobotka (ANO) who gave up his mandate because he had not stated his debt in an affidavit that all ANO's election candidates submitted to their party.
But Sobotka himself was a substitute for Miloslav Baciak on whom ANO called to resign over the fact that he did not reveal that he had been a political officer under the communist regime.
The ANO lower house deputies' group called on Sobotka and Baciak to give give their MPs' salaries and severance pay to charity.
Kott, 42, is a product manager in the ZZN Pelhrimov firm, which is part of the Agrofert Holding owned by ANO leader, billionare Andrej Babis. Kott was a politician on the municipal level in the 2000s.
In the previous election term, 18 MPs gave up their mandates.
CTK

TOP 09 head Schwarzenberg to be defending his post
Prague, Dec 4 (CTK) - Brief profile of TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg, 75, former foreign minister and the party's presidential candidate, who will be defending his post at the party's election congress on December 7-8

Place and date of birth: Prague, December 10, 1937; is the eldest son of Karel Schwarzenberg and his wife Antonie; comes from the Orlik branch of the Schwarzenberg noble family.
Education: studied law in Vienna and Graz, Austria, and forestry in Munich, Germany (did not finish the studies).
Career: He is his family's property manager. Headed the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (1985-1990). Head of president Vaclav Havel's office (1990-1991); Havel's chancellor (1991-1992); foreign minister (2007-2009, nominated by Green Party); senator (2006-2010, elected for Freedom Union-DEU); Chamber of Deputies lawmaker (from 2010 to August 2013; from October 2013); foreign minister and deputy prime minister (from 2010 to July 2013).
Membership of political parties: Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA, 1997-2007); TOP 09 (since June 2009) - founding member of TOP 09; TOP 09 chairman since November 2009.
Family: Married the same woman for a second time; wife: Therese, born Countess von Hardegg (physician), they got married for the first time in 1967; they divorced in 1988 but remarried in 2008; have three children - sons Jan Nepomuk Ondrej (1967) and Karel Filip (1979) - a stepson, has been adopted by his biological father Thomas Prinzhorn, and daughter Anna Karolina (1968).Others:
- In January he ran in the first Czech direct presidential election in which he lost to former socialist prime minister Milos Zeman. Schwarzenberg presents himself as an ally of former president Vaclav Havel (in office 1989-2003), while his opinions on foreign policy, for example, differed from those of Havel's successor Vaclav Klaus (in office 2003-March 2013).
- Schwarzenberg, in his capacity as foreign minister, clashed with incumbent President Zeman over the naming of ambassadors, and he criticised Zeman's approach to the government crisis earlier this year.
- Last year, Schwarzenberg voiced disagreement with the then prime minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS), who said support to the Russian Pussy Riot group and the Tibetan Dalai Lama may threaten Czech exports. Schwarzenberg said he was taken aback at this attitude.
- Critics point to his slumbering in the Chamber of Deputies now and then, to his sometimes incomprehensible pronunciation and say he does not solve party scandals resolutely. In this connection, they mention the unacceptable attempts by TOP 09 deputy head and Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek to influence the investigation into the CASA aircraft supply to the Czech military.
- Schwarzenberg is known for his noble manners, his sense of self-irony and passionate pipe smoking. Now and then he makes sharp statements that make the headlines.
- He emigrated to Austria with his parents in 1948, has both Czech and Swiss citizenship. After the death of his uncle Jindrich, who adopted him, he in 1965 became the heir to the Krumlov-Hluboka branch of the Schwarzenberg family, in addition to the Orlik branch (however, he has been in a court dispute over the former branch's heritage with his stepsister Elizabeth Pezold). He then interrupted his studies and took over the management of the family estate in Austria and Bavaria.
- At present the Schwarzenberg family's property includes the chateaux Orlik, Cimelice and Sedlec, all central Bohemia, houses in Prague, and real estate in Kutna Hora, central Bohemia and in south Bohemia. In the 1990s, Schwarzenberg bought the Drevic mansion, west of Prague, which is his official place of residence. The family seats also include the Murau chateau, in Styria, a palace in Vienna and a chateau in Bavaria.

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 4 (CTK) - The ANO anti-political movement wants the sessions of the lower house of Czech parliament to be "more constructive" by shortening the time of MPs' speeches, which seems one of the dangerous plans of ANO leader and rich businessman Andrej Babis, Lukas Jelinek says in daily Pravo today.

Babis, who may be next finance minister, said he would like to rule the state like a commercial company, Jelinek recalls.
It is dangerous to apply the business model to the state and control it like a firm. Parliamentary democracy may seem lengthy and exhausting, but it has safeguards against manipulators, including those in a manager's suit, Jelinek writes.
The lower house session would certainly be quicker and more effective if only heads of the groups of individual parties took part in them. The system could work similarly to a general meeting of a firm: I have 47 shares (seats in parliament) and I am against the proposal, Jelinek writes with irony.
ANO has 47 MPs in the 200-seat lower house.

The three parties negotiating about a possible coalition government seem to forget that an early election was held because of a deep political crisis and they do not exert enough effort to use the opportunity to improve the bad situation, Jan Keller writes elsewhere in Pravo.
They need not have another chance, Keller says.
It is noteworthy that Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) leader Pavel Belobradek is going to leave for the United States for two weeks during the government-forming negotiations this month, Keller writes.

CTK

Prague mayor, academy, universities sign cooperation memorandum
Prague, Dec 3 (CTK) - Rectors of all Prague public universities, chairman of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic Jiri Drahos, Prague Mayor Tomas Hudecek (TOP 09) and the City Development Authority signed a cooperation memorandum today, Hudecek has told CTK.

The institutions want to jointly use the opportunities to draw EU money for the Czech capital, Hudecek said.
Prague wants to use more university and research institutes experts for its expert analyses, Hudecek said.
So far, Prague university and research institutions could only draw EU money in a limited way.
As a rich region, Prague is not entitled to EU subsidies.
Rectors complained that although many people from the regions studied in the capital, billions for the construction of giant scientific centres could only be drawn in the regions.
"I think that another programme period without the European means would be rather devastating for the universities. In this, we absolutely concur with the universities and the Academy of Sciences," Hudecek said, adding that this was why they wanted to discuss the subsidies jointly both on the national and international levels.
The Prague institutions and city hall want to jointly take part in the projects from the sphere of research and development and publicise the capital as an innovation centre.
CTKIn Hospodarske noviny (HN), Petr Kambersky points to the fact that Interior Minister Martin Pecina (SPOZ), who reinstalled Petr Lessy as police president, even though the current police president Martin Cervicek remains in his post, is an outgoing minister of a government that did not win parliament's support.
Lessy was made police president under an enormous pressure of Public Affairs (VV) whose unofficial leader Vit Barta is suspected of getting secret data from the BIS counter-intelligence, Kambersky writes.
Barta's man Lessy should not return to the post of police president, Kambersky says.
kva/t
CTK

Zeman to attend Sochi Olympics opening, meet Putin - press
Prague, Dec 4 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman will attend the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Sochi, where he will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for the first time in his capacity as Czech president, his spokesman Jiri Ovcacek says in today's issue of daily Hospodarske noviny (HN).

Apart from Zeman, and, of course, the team of Czech athletes, the Sochi on February 7 event will be attended by a number of Czech politicians and businesspeople, HN writes.
At present, Zeman, 69, is recovering from a knee injury he suffered in late October.
"President Zeman's schedule at the Sochi Winter Olympics includes his participation in a reception for top representatives, hosted by President Vladimir Putin," Ovcacek said.
HN writes that the Czech Industry and Trade Ministry plans to invest 19 million crowns in promoting Czech business during the Olympic games. The money will mainly be spent on hiring premises in Sochi.
One of the Czech bases in Sochi will be in the showroom of the Volkswagen car maker right in the Olympic village, where the Czech-made Skoda cars will also be presented, since Skoda Auto is a part of the Volkswagen group.
The traditional Czech House, for its part, will be seated in the Adler hotel, outside the Olympic centre, where conferences, business meetings and possibly also exhibitions focusing on Czech business will be held, HN writes.
The Czech state and the Czech Olympic Committee (COV) each plan to spend 50 million crowns on the Olympic marketing. The price includes the project of an Olympic Park in Prague worth 80 million, which is to offer a hockey facility and skating and cross-country skiing tracks, the daily writes.
Unlike at the latest summer Olympics in London, where the Czechs promoted design, shoes and watches, in Sochi they will mainly present heavy industry, above all the car-making, engineering and construction branches, HN writes, citing Radek Spicar, deputy head of the Czech Industry and Transport Association.
Czech sport stars will be helping promote Czech business in Sochi, HN continues, naming NHL player Jaromir Jagr, javelin thrower Jan Zelezny and skier Sarka Strachova (born Zahrobska) as the official "ambassadors" of the Czech Olympic team.
($1=20.222 crowns)
CTK
 

 

 

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Tueday, December 03, 2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 3 (CTK) - The results of Monday's negotiations between the Czech Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) about a new government showed that, as expected, they were no "breakthrough" but a normal second round of trilateral talks, Petr Kambersky writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

The sole problem was in that the two large parties left threats to be said by lower levels (and the parties' leaders can generously overlook them in the final), while the Christian Democrats left strong words to be pronounced mainly by their leader, Pavel Belobradek, Kambersky writes.
The two groups, that is CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka and ANO's leader Andrej Babis on the one side and Belobradek on the other need one another, Kambersky writes.
The big ones do not desire to lean on the wild team of Tomio Okamura (Dawn of Direct Democracy), the Christian Democrats, for their part, know that they, having 14 (our of 200 lawmakers) will push through completely nothing, Kambersky writes.
He writes that practically two things are stake: the Christian Democrats need guarantees of that that the voting coalition of the CSSD, ANO and Communists (KSCM) will not be governing in fact while they are formally sitting on the government.
The KDU-CSL also needs to show to its voters that it will fulfil at least a part of its programme. A mere being on the government could bring the Christian Democrats to the definitive parliamentary non-existence after the next elections, Kambersky writes.

It is not only a Czech specificity that movements setting themselves apart from the existing form of politics are mushrooming and that leaders, more or less democratic, who do not bother about anything, are rising, Lukas Jelinek writes in Pravo.
In the Czech Republic they are ANO wtih Andrej Babis and Daw with Tomio Okmura, to the east of the country, it is extremist Marian Kotleba, Jelinek writes.
He writes that groupings that do not belong in drawing-rooms are also rising in Germany and Austria. Where established parties still stay in power, they help themselves with charismatic, populist or autocratic politicians, such as Robert Fico in Slovakia, Viktor Orban in Hungary and the again firming Kaczynski in Poland.
Jelinek writes that politics is being personalised while the ideological dimension is declining.
In the Czech Republic they, most legible part of the right are the Civic Democrats (ODS). TOP 09 is stronger, but it is more difficult to categorise it, Jelinek writes.
He writes that more intensive nationalisation will be a problem for the right democrats.
The problems of the left, after the alternative Zemanites (SPOZ) flopped and no new party of leftist activities is emerging, are reduced to the relations between the Social Democrats (CSSD) and Communists (KSCM, Jelinek writes.
He writes that the two parties are close to one another, but they are separated by a wall.

President Milos Zeman has not changed, yet his popularity is decreasing, Petr Pesek writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) referring to a recent poll that showed support for Zeman has plummeted.
He writes that his bon mots and behaviour close to ordinary people's were a source of his popularity and they were reasons for people to vote for him, but now these things cease to work somehow.
Some people may have started to dislike him because he has not appeared much in public since he suffered a knee injury, Pesek.
Others may have started to dislike him because he does not behave diplomatically, that he is not a sufficiently representative personality, Pesek writes.
There will again be room for all these considerations in four years, in anotehr direct presidential election, Pesek writes.
CTK

Prague should react openly, resolutely to Ukrainian drama - press
Prague, Dec 3 (CTK) - The Czech Republic should join the rest of Europe and react openly and resolutely to the Ukrainian developments instead of pursuing its typical tactic of a cautious silence, Katerina Safarikova writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today.

She gives Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski as an example of how a country should react to "the drama" in Ukraine where mass protests against the regime of President Viktor Yanukovych have broken out.
On his twitter account, Sikorski said he summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to Warsaw on Sunday over the police's brutal crack down on the Kiev protests against the government's rejection of the EU-Ukrainian association agreement, Safarikova writes.
In a media statement, Sikorski said Poland clearly sides with the peaceful demonstrators, she writes.
Sikorski, along with his Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt, told Ukraine that the European dream continues, she adds.
Compared with them, the Czech Republic's inactiveness is striking, Safarikova writes.
Ukraine's association with the West, demanded by the Kiev demonstrators, is also a Czech objective. The EU's Eastern Partnership project, aimed to help six post-Soviet countries free themselves from the sphere of Russia's influence, was ceremonially launched in Prague, during the Czech EU presidency in 2009, Safarikova writes.
The project's viability ranks among the Czech Republic's priorities, at least judging by the foreign policy plan approved by the previous cabinet (2010-June 2013), in which the present cabinet of Jiri Rusnok changed nothing, Safarikova writes.
In end-November, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said the Eastern Partnership is Prague's "long-term priority," she adds.
The reality is different, however. In reaction to the Kiev events, the Czech Foreign Ministry issued a single statement on its website on Monday morning, in which it dissociated itself from Ukraine.
The ministry wrote that the Czech Republic "felt concerned" about the violent suppression of the demonstrations but it "noticed" that President Yanukovych has distanced himself from the violence subsequently, etc. It said nothing to show what the Czech position and view are, Safarikova writes.
Loud communication is usually undesirable in diplomacy. Nevertheless, in certain situations, clear words pronounced in public are the most meaningful strategy, she continues.
Such a moment has come for Prague in relation to Ukraine now, she says.
Along with Poland and Sweden, the Czech Republic previously voluntarily took up the role of an advocate of Ukraine's pro-European orientation. The Czechs cannot keep silent now that a decisive moment has come for Ukraine on its path to Europe, Safarikova points out.
A former Czech ambassador to Ukraine is right when he says the usual Czech tactic, to hide in a bush until the end of the game and then join the prevailing side, is risky in this case.
"If we want to remain a relevant partner in Ukraine's eyes and not to lose the Swedes and Poles as our allies, we have to publicly back the demonstrators, after assuring them for years that they can rely on our support," the former ambassador is quoted as saying.
CTK

CSSD to prepare coalition principles final version by Saturday
Prague, Dec 2 (CTK) - The Social Democrats (CSSD) will prepare the final version of the principles of cooperation in the nascent Czech government coalition for the Saturday meeting of the CSSD, ANO and Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) leaders, CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka told reporters today.

The CSSD will incorporate today's comments of the coalition partners into the final version.
The parties' expert teams will meet on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to debate all areas of the future coalition's cooperation.
The programme part of the document was not significantly changed today but the probability of the coalition government's formation has allegedly slightly increased.
The Social Democrat, Christian Democrat and ANO politicians will debate a major part of the coalition agreement on Saturday, Sobotka said after a meeting of the coalition partners tonight.
The parties' representatives should complete the document, including mainly the programme part, by December 14.
The CSSD will decide whether the agreement will be approved in an internal referendum, Sobotka added.
The Christian Democrats will send their representatives to an expert group preparing an amendment to the civil service law, including the lustration (screening) issue, which the parties would like to submit by the end of the year, Sobotka said.
He also said he agreed with ANO leader Andrej Babis and KDU-CSL chairman Pavel Belobradek that he 2014 state budget should be approved by the end of the year. The parties would thereby send a signal that they were able to reach consensus on a key topic, Sobotka added.
The three parties would prepare a schedule of the budget debate in the Chamber of Deputies to enable to pass the bill by the end of December.
A meeting of the three parties' chairmen to deal with the division of the Chamber of Deputies' committees and government sectors will be held on Tuesday, Sobotka added.
The CSSD, which won the late-October general election with 20.5 percent of the vote, ANO, which ended second with 18.7 percent, and the Christian Democrats (6.8 percent), who returned to the Chamber of Deputies after three years, together command a majority of 111 votes in the 200-seat lower house.
CTK

Czech CSSD, ANO, KDU-CSL want budget by year's end
Prague, Dec 2 (CTK) - The Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), partners in a nascent Czech government coalition, agreed today that the 2014 state budget should be approved by the end of the year.

The parties' representatives also agreed that they would like to form a working group to deal with the civil service bill.
The negotiations are to continue at a meeting of the parties' chairmen on Tuesday.
The CSSD and ANO negotiating teams agreed last week on the necessity to push through the budget for 2014 by the end of December to avoid a stop-gap budget.
The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, should start debating the budget bill next week.
The Social Democrats and the ANO movement, the strongest parties in the lower house, also agreed to submit the amendment to the civil service bill, which the EU demands, before the formation of the government coalition.
The potential coalition parties are negotiating at a trilateral meeting for the second time today.
They would like to reach progress in some programme issues as well as the procedural part of the draft coalition agreement.
The CSSD, which won the late-October general election with 20.5 percent of the vote, ANO of billionaire Andrej Babis, which ended second with 18.7 percent, and the Christian Democrats (6.8 percent), who returned to the Chamber of Deputies after three years, together command a majority of 111 votes in the 200-seat lower house.
CTK

Czech Foreign Ministry concerned over violence in Ukraine
Prague, Dec 2 (CTK) - The Czech Foreign Ministry is concerned about reports on the use of violence against demonstrators in Ukraine, hoping that the authorities will proceed along the rules of law-abiding state and will not use unacceptable forceful methods, the ministry said today.

The Foreign Ministry has also called on Kiev to resolve the situation by way of a democratic political dialogue.
Amid a tense atmosphere, tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of followers of pro-European opposition are demonstrating in Kiev.
They are protesting against the country's senior officials having refused to sign an association agreement with the EU, preferring the inclination to Moscow. Military units are on the move in Ukraine.
Prague is of the view that Ukraine belongs to the family of European countries.
"In Ukraine, there is underway an important demonstration of people's dissatisfaction with the surprising decision of the country' leadership not to sign the association agreement between Ukraine and the EU. It was to be signed at the recent Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius," the ministry told CTK.
"The Foreign Ministry watched with a great concern the Saturday use of violence. The Foreign Ministry is carefully watching and evaluating the situation," the press release said.
"We have recorded that President (Viktor) Yanukovych subsequently distanced himself from the violent action. We hope that he meant his words seriously and that the government forces will proceed along the rules of a law-abiding democratic state and will not use again unacceptable forceful methods," it added.
The Foreign Ministry said the association agreement, on which the two sides had conducted talks for several months, offered the road of economic integration and political association with the EU, being a "comprehensive offer of partnership" by the EU.
The door is still open, it added.
CTK

 

 

 

 

 

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Monday, December 02,2013

Czechs would pay dearly for Okamura's government entry - press
Prague, Dec 2 (CTK) - Not only the ruling partners, the Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO, but the whole country would pay dearly for it if they let Tomio Okamura's Dawn of Direct Democracy join the nascent Czech cabinet instead of the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), Jiri Kubik writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.

Ahead of today's key meeting of the CSSD, ANO and KDU-CSL teams of government-forming negotiators, ANO has threatened that if the KDU-CSL put up excessive resistance or tried to blackmail its partners, it could be replaced with the Dawn movement as the smallest government partner and ousted into opposition, Kubik writes.
The CSSD and ANO say they have bilaterally agreed on 99 percent of the new cabinet's programme already. In the meantime, however, they found out that the KDU-CSL, which they did not invite to join the talks, is opposed to some of their plans and threatens to thwart the nascent government project, Kubik writes.
The KDU-CSL objects to the CSSD-ANO's challenging the conditions of the return of property to churches as set by the church restitution law, he recalls.
The KDU-CSL also dislikes the CSSD-ANO's idea of a fast passing of the 2014 state budget bill.
It dislikes the plan to hurriedly put the service law in effect in order to enable ANO chairman Babis to join the cabinet even without a clean lustration certificate. It dislikes the prospect of Babis entering the government, let alone as finance minister, Kubik writes.
In addition, the KDU-CSL wants its partners to nod to a "safety measure" preventing two government parties from outvoting the third. Simply, the KDU-CSL does not want the CSSD-ANO tandem to override their small sister KDU-CSL in everyday routine governance, Kubik writes.
The KDU-CSL knows it is indispensable for the CSSD and ANO, which together command only 97 votes in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies. However, the KDU-CSL's calculating skills are not enough. It is also important for it not to miscalculate, which might easily happen to it, Kubik writes.
Last week, ANO started making loud overtures to Okamura's Dawn movement, evidently with an intention to scare the KDU-CSL by indicating that it may be replaced with Dawn in the coalition, Kubik writes.
Okamura is doing his best in this respect. Not only he has taken a generous approach to Babis's trouble with his lacking lustration certificate, but he even indicated that Dawn would not block the government's policy priorities that the KDU-CSL is opposed to, Kubik writes.
ANO asserts that Okamura, worshipper of direct democracy, would satisfy himself with a few referendums a year, and the rest of the cabinet's policy, including its rightist or leftist orientation, would make no difference to him, Kubik writes.
For ANO, Dawn's participation in the cabinet would also be pleasant because like ANO, Dawn is a new alternative project aimed at voters dissatisfied with the governance of the traditional political parties. If either ANO or Dawn remained outside the government now, in opposition, it would be more popular with voters and could expect a better result in the next elections, Kubik says.
ANO may actually wish Dawn for a government partner for tactical reasons, he adds.
The CSSD's view, however, may be the opposite. For the CSSD it would be better to share the government with only one alternative movement than two, Kubik continues.
Furthermore, the CSSD rightfully feels apprehension of Okamura's "brownish" opinions such as his idea of Romanies moving out from the Czech Republic to establish a state of their own, Kubik writes.
This and other similarly populist rhetoric offering quick and radical solutions helped Okamura score election points in certain regions. However, it would be a serious problem if he entered the cabinet and claimed the calling of national referendums on the particular issues. What if he asked people to decide in a referendum on whether they want to have a Romany for neighbour? Kubik writes.
Dawn has 14 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, as has the KDU-CSL. From the mathematical point of view, it, too, can form a 111-vote majority coalition with the CSSD and ANO. However, the country would pay for it by seeing an escalating series of referendums and so-called direct democracy, whose bitter effect was recently experienced by Slovakia, where people chose a local Nazi, Marian Kotleba, for a regional governor, Kubik writes.
Another risk rests in the Dawn deputies' group including three members of the Public Affairs (VV), a former government party infamous for unlawful spying practices, Kubik says.
In view of all this, the CSSD and ANO should shudder at the idea of forming a cabinet with Dawn, and they should do their utmost for their negotiations with the KDU-CSL to be a success, Kubik concludes.
CTK

Possible PM Sobotka bows to ANO in Czech govt-forming talks-press
Prague, Dec 2 (CTK) - The Czech government-forming talks show that Bohuslav Sobotka, the election-winning Social Democrat (CSSD) leader and candidate for prime minister, has made vast concessions to ANO as the CSSD's potential junior governing partner, Miroslav Korecky writes in weekly Tyden out today.

Negotiations on forming a government of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) have been conducted bilaterally by the two stronger partners so far. Out of their several meetings, only the third was held in the CSSD headquarters, while the first two took place in a restaurant belonging to the ANO leader, food and chemical magnate Andrej Babis, Korecky recalls.
The choice of venues indicates much about the game played by the CSSD and ANO, he says.
A recent conflict in the CSSD thwarted Sobotka's chances as the initiator determining the course and agenda of the negotiations. At the same time, he owes his survival at the CSSD's helm to Babis, who backed him against his rivals. This cannot but influence the programme of Sobotka's nascent government, Korecky writes.
Moreover, not even after defeating his rivals in the CSSD does Sobotka enjoy unanimous support of all CSSD deputies. His opponents in the party, backed by President Milos Zeman, definitely have not given up their resistance, Korecky says.
Sobotka must secure a clear [government-forming] success for the CSSD, otherwise he would end at the party helm, he says.
Babis does not face any such problems. He is not at loggerheads with Zeman and he firmly controls his ANO, having no internal opposition. Many of ANO's deputies are employees of Babis's Agrofert holding, Korecky writes.
A failure of the ANO-CSSD talks would not threaten Babis's position. On the contrary, his position is strengthened by the fact that he could also form a [rightist] cabinet with TOP 09, the Civic Democrats (ODS) and the KDU-CSL, while Sobotka would have to seek far bizarre variants without ANO, Korecky says.
Public opinion polls play into the hands of Babis, indicating that ANO would win early elections, if held now, Korecky says.
In this situation, it is no wonder that it is Babis who determines the agenda and venue of the government-forming negotiations, he adds.
The format of bilateral talks, as chosen by Sobotka and Babis, is unprecedented in Czech history. Never before were government-forming talks conducted by two coalition partners only, with the third partner waiting for what the two would agree on, Korecky writes, referring to the KDU-CSL.
This situation is probably a result of young KDU-CSL leader Pavel Belobradek's inexperience and irresoluteness. The party's former leader, the late political matador Josef Lux, would not have allowed himself to be humiliated this way, Korecky writes.
The KDU-CSL will probably show some resistance as far as the church restitution and the lustration law are concerned, but in the end it will probably nod to being a mere decoration of [what would in fact be a] CSSD-ANO cabinet, Korecky says.
The KDU-CSL's fear that Sobotka would replace it with Tomio Okamura's unpredictable Dawn of Direct Democracy as the smallest coalition partner is unfounded. The Dawn would not join the government and a minority CSSD-ANO government depending on Okamura's whim would be extremely fragile. Sobotka could not push such an adventure through in the CSSD, Korecky adds.
The hitherto negotiations show that Sobotka has been yielding to ANO and the KDU-CSL on all points of the future cabinet's programme and lineup, Korecky continues.
The taxes will not be raised, not in the foreseeable future at least. The CSSD will maximally push through slight changes such as a lower VAT on medicines, he says.
The CSSD will fail to soften the conditions of the church restitution. A commission of experts will debate the issue under Babis's supervision for a few months and the churches will finally agree with a cosmetic change to the financial compensation regime, Korecky writes.
Of the CSSD's other priorities, the pension system's second pillar will not be scrapped, the introduction of automatic cash registers is uncertain and the planned property statements will shrink to apply to a handful of the richest only, Korecky says.
Sobotka faces an unsolvable task: how to fulfil the CSSD's cost-intensive election promises in a situation where the taxes will not rise and the 3-percent budget gap must be preserved? Korecky writes.
As far as the cabinet lineup is concerned, Sobotka originally said with self-confidence that the CSSD wants the posts of prime minister, lower house head, and both finance and interior ministers. However, this ambition failed at the very first CSSD-ANO meeting where ANO won the seat of finance minister in exchange for the seat of lower house chairperson for the CSSD, Korecky writes.
For the CSSD, the only positive effect of the deal is that if a third cabinet-forming attempt were made, it would be up to the lower house head who would entrust it to a CSSD representative. Otherwise, however, the deal is a total fiasco for the CSSD, as the weight of the finance minister is incomparably bigger than that of the lower house chairperson, Korecky says.
Apart from the Finance Ministry, Babis wants the crucial post of interior minister. If ANO gained it, Babis would be the government's real head, but only temporarily, as a government with a weak prime minister who has no influence on the crucial ministries will be a prey savoured by predator Milos Zeman and his fans [and Sobotka's opponents] in the CSSD, Korecky concludes.
CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Dec 2 (CTK) - The headlines announcing that President Milos Zeman has transferred the power of granting pardons to the Justice Ministry do not fully correspond to the truth but still Zeman's decision raises doubts, Petr Honzejk writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

Zeman could not transfer the power, as the constitution links it with no one else but the president, Honzejk says.
The situation is thus returning before the year 2003, to the practice applied by the then president Vaclav Havel. The Justice Ministry will be sorting pardon-seekers' applications like it did under Havel. It may turn down all applications except for those lodged by seriously ill people, Honzejk writes.
The granting of pardons can be more easily abused now that responsibility is spread among more decision makers, he writes.
In addition, Zeman's step is at variance with his previous vow to stop granting pardons. Now he seems to have changed his mind. He admits the possibility of granting some. The question is which requests for pardon he will comply with in cooperation with the Justice Ministry, Honzejk says.
The objection that this system worked smoothly under Havel is irrelevant, as in fact it did not work smoothly and a number of problematic pardons were granted then, Honzejk writes.

Let's believe that Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) leader Pavel Belobradek's threat to sink the nascent government project is only a usual game aimed to wring out as many concessions from the negotiating partners, the Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in Pravo.
However, Belobradek should not overdo it. If the KDU-CSL really withdrew from the talks and KDU-CSL politicians lost a chance for gaining cabinet posts, it may backfire on him as the party head, Mitrofanov writes.
After all, this would be a private matter of Belobradek and the KDU-CSL. But the consequences of the KDU-CSL's reluctance and the collapse of the government-forming talks would afflict the whole society, Mitrofanov says.
A new government is expected at least to dismiss people's feeling of the country's unstoppable decline. To achieve the goal, it needs ministers who would be a little bit trustworthy at least. If the reluctant KDU-CSL shunned the cabinet, who would replace it? Tomio Okamura [with his Dawn of Direct Democracy]? Mitrofanov asks.
Those who heard Okamura speaking on television on Sunday, except for his fans, of course, cannot rejoice at such a prospect, Mitrofanov adds.

Businessman Andrej Babis's ANO movement ended strong second in the October polls and it is expected to join the nascent Czech cabinet, of which, however, Babis need not necessarily be a part, Zbynek Petracek writes in Lidove noviny (LN).
True, ANO won almost one-fifth of the vote and the argument that "people want him in the cabinet" is strong and comprehensible. Nevertheless, it does not deal with whether Babis meets the conditions for government entry as set by the lustration law. In this respect, it is only up to the court to decide, Petracek writes.
Even if the lustration law were scrapped and replaced with the service law, which would enable Babis's entry into the cabinet, he will remain controversial in many people's eyes. In similar situations, the final decision depends on neither courts nor laws but simply on politics and habits, Petracek writes.
As an example he gives Austria, where the previously ostracised Freedom Party (FPOe) of Joerg Haider gained 27 percent of the vote in the October 1999 elections. The then prime minister Wolfgang Schuessel (People's Party, OeVP) admitted the FPOe to the cabinet - but without personal participation of Haider, Petracek writes.
Of course, Haider and Babis cannot be lumped together, Babis is not a xenophobe. However, they have something in common - if an anti-system party with a controversial leader is to be admitted to the cabinet, the party leader need not necessarily be a part of it, Petracek concludes.
CTK


President Zeman is rather unpopular among Czechs - press
Prague, Dec 2 (CTK) - Only 15 percent of Czechs assess the work of President Milos Zeman, who has been the head of state since March, positively, according to a Focus agency's poll released by daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.

Thirty-eight percent view Zeman's nine-month work as president negatively and 42 percent can see it neither negatively not positively, the poll showed. The poll was conducted on 1020 people in mid-November.
"This is a rather critical view of the present activity of Milos Zeman in the post," Martin Zaplatilek, from Focus, told the paper.
Both presidents who headed the Czech Republic before Zeman were highly popular in their first year in office: Vaclav Havel was popular among more than 80 percent and Vaclav Klaus among 75 percent, the paper writes.
MfD recalls that Zeman promised to unite the Czech political scene and the public. After nine months it can be said that he has not achieved it, the paper adds.
According to the poll, most of Zeman's supporters seem to be elderly people. Twenty-two percent of people aged over 54 view his work as president positively, while among people under 54 it is only 12 percent.
Zeman's critics mostly dislike his behaviour, his alcohol drinking and rude comments - they in fact consider him a disgrace, MfD writes.
On the other hand, Zeman's supporters say the president is one of them and does not look down on anybody.
Only two fifths of those who cast their vote for Zeman in the direct presidential election in January consider his presidency positive, while 12 percent of his former voters view it negatively, which represents more than 300,000 people.
Zeman won over 2.7 million votes in the runoff election, defeating former finance minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) who received over 2.2 million votes.
Three fifths of those who voted for Schwarzenberg share the view that President Zeman's steps are negative. Only 2 percent of them assess his work positively, MfD writes.
Sociologist Jan Herzmann said he believes many people supported Zeman in the election because they considered him the least evil, a better option than Schwarzenberg who was a representative of then right-wing government.
"They did not have great expectations. Now they are satisfied with some of Zeman's steps but they can see his mistakes," Herzmann said.
Thanks to informal strength given their high popularity, Czech presidents traditionally exercise powers that they do not really have and the public benevolently accepts this, MfD writes.
Zeman is likely to go beyond his powers and intervene in the current government-forming talks because he has always done it and because this is exactly what his supporters like - they like Zeman as a strong personality who tries to influence as much as possible, the paper writes.
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Slovak bishops warn of mutilation of family
Bratislava, Dec 1 (CTK) - Slovak bishops warned of mutilation of the traditional family under the veil of defence of human rights, in a pastoral letter that was read in churches on first Advent Sunday across the country today.

In it, church dignitaries also spoke about the negative impact of the struggle for gender equality and about the unacceptability of homosexual ties.
The bishops wrote that man cannot entirely destroy the family, but can disrupt its concept, which is happening in Europe minimally.
The bishops also came out against what they called an excessive struggle for gender quality that they described as "gender ideology."
"The advocates of the culture of death are coming with a new ideology of gender. They want to push through 'gender equality' in its name. He who hears this term for the first time believes that the aim is for men and women having equal rights and equal dignity. But these groups are pursuing something entirely different via this so-called gender equality," the bishops wrote.
They wrote that an effort to justify perhaps homosexual ties is hidden under the veil of the struggle for human rights.
"They want that...marriage be no longer the God-blessed exclusive tie of man and woman, but they want to put the tie of two men or two women on the level of marriage," the bishops wrote, adding that this is against God's will and asking for God's punishment.
CTK

 

 

 

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Sunday,  December 01, 2013

Czech CSSD and ANO cannot but govern together - pressPrague, Nov 30 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) and billionaire Andrej Babis's movement ANO cannot but govern together over the next four years and they have a strong common interest, Jiri Pehe writes in daily Pravo today.

The CSSD won the recent general election with 20.5 percent, but ANO only trails it by less than 2 percent and therefore Babis also needs to look like a winner in the government-forming negotiations, Pehe writes.
That is why ANO is behaving somewhat more cautiously than Public Affairs (VV) did. It was also a new entity that got to the government right at the first try in 2010, Pehe writes.
The VV, however, abandoned its programme in negotiating about a government coalition with the Civic Democrats (ODS) and TOP 09 then and this betrayal made the new centre-right government unstable right at the beginning, Pehe writes.
He writes that Babis is definitely aware of this and that is why his negotiators are thorouhgly seeking programme compromises with the CSSD.
The slow pace of negotiations is not only due to Sobotka's effort to keep the face of the winner, but mainly by that Babis can hardly send his movement to a government that would fail, Peeh writes.
Babis is in a clinch. The election results do not make it possible to form a stable government without ANO. If the government were not formed over ANO's stubbornness or an evident political amateurism, his preferences may start evaporating just as quickly as they were rising, Pehe writes.
When the government is eventually formed, ANO, based on criticism of the alleged inability of the established parties, cannot afford an incapable government tormented by internal conflicts, Pehe writes.
Such a government would backfire on the internally disorganised new movement just as it happened to the VV, Pehe writes.
That is why, he writes, that both the CSSD and ANO, given their election result, have a strong common interest.
Sobotka at the head of the CSSD, with regard for his election "non-victory" and the subsequent attempted intra-party coup - needs to offer the public a stable and competent government, Pehe writes.
Babis - condemned by the surprising election result to governing - needs to show that he is not only capable of criticising, but that he can really be just as successful in managing the state as his business empire, Pehe writes.
The Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), the third potential government coalition partner that won 6.8 percent of the vote, who spent three years outside the Chamber of Deputies, are interested in being part of a successful government rather than in being in opposition, Pehe writes.
He writes that they must rehabilitate themselves on the government level from which they were removed in the 2010 general election.
Ending up in the opposition benches along with Miroslav Kalousek (formerly KDU-CSL, now TOP 09) who largely contributed to the KDU-CSL's failure in 2010 by the foundation of TOP 09 after he left the KDU-CSL in 2009, or being a cause of the failure to form a government would most probably again eliminate the KDU-CSL from parliamentary politics, Pehe writes.
He adds that this might be forever this time.
Though it may not seem so, all three potential coalition partners have a strong interest in creating a successful government, Pehe writes.
If they fail, all of them may end up in the same political unimportance like former prime minister and ODS chairman Petr Necas who looked like a clear winner when he formed a government in a record short time in 2010, Pehe writes.
CTK

Holocaust centre in South Africa to recall Czech Nazism victims
Pretoria, South Africa, Nov 30 (CTK special correspondent) - A new centre of genocide and the Holocaust to focus on Nazi crimes on Czech territory is emerging in Johannesburg and the Czech embassy in South Africa is also participating in its preparation, Czech ambassador Blanka Fajkusova has told CTK.

She said the Czech experience with the Holocaust is strongly remembered in South Africa and the Holocaust theme is very sensitive in the country also due to the apartheid regime that existed in South Africa for several decades.
The centre is to open next year. "A big part of it will be devoted to the ghetto in Terezin, north Bohemia. We have bought copyright for some pictures made by children from the ghetto that will be displayed in the centre," Fajkusova said.
In 1941-45 the Nazi transported about 155,000 European Jews to the Terezin ghetto. Only 38,000 of them survived until the war's end, most of the others perished in other Nazi camps. Some 32,000 people went through the Gestapo prison in Terezin's Little Fortress where 2600 of them died.
Fajkusova said the centre will also have displays on the attack on deputy Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia Reinhard Heydrich and the burning to the ground of Lidice, central Bohemia.
Lidice was obliterated in 1942 in retaliation for the assassination of Heydrich by Czechoslovak paratroopers in Prague and its inhabitants were either shot dead or taken to concentration camps. Some children were sent for re-education in Germany.
"The Holocaust and genocide themes are compulsory parts of education," Fajkusova said.
Almost all children visit one of three genocide and Holocaust centres in the country during their school attendance, she added.
Fajkusova said the aim of the centres is to draw a certain parallel between genocide, the Holocaust and apartheid.
CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 30 (CTK) - The emerging Czech government coalition of Social Democrats (CSSD), the ANO movement and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) will be nothing but a coalition keeping things moving, abolishing and "improving," but it will not reach agreement on any reform, Martin Zverina writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today.

It will mainly "properly manage" the state, Zverina adds. However, some sectors, such as health care or pensions need not to fine-tuning, but rather a completely overhaul, Zverina writes.
He writes that education is slowly coming close to this state and the planned bill on the civil service will be no miraculous medicine, even though it may be functioning.
But if at least the always repeated "operation of the state" improves, it will be no disaster, Zverina writes.

Is it meaningful to sell 28 Czech L-159 Alka combat planes, that no government has yet failed to get rid of, to the Americans under conditions that look humiliating, Zbynek Petracek asks elsewhere in Lidove noviny (LN).
The U.S. Draken International firm's offer to pay for all 28 aircraft less than the price of a new L-159 was is warning. But is there any other real alternative? The conservation of the planes alone costs lot of money, Petracek writes.
It is no victory, but it is also possible to ask what is a worse promotion for the Alkas: that they will serve the Americans as a training target, or that none of the many states with which negotiations about the sale were conducted wanted them? Petracek asks.
Irrespective of how unattractive the U.S. offer may seem, it is the sole real alternative to the further conserving of the combat planes or even their scrapping, Petracek writes.
It is definitely much better to control orders for the military, but this is what everyone knows today. This good experince has cost tens of billions of crowns, Petracek writes.

The problem with the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) in the negotiations about a future government coalition does not rest in that they would have their own clear priorities on which they would be insisting, but rather on contrary, that the priorities are not reflected in the behaviour of the party's representatives, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in daily Pravo.
The confusion is mainly due to that the party's steps are not in consistence with the biblical "let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No,' Mitrofanov writes.
KDU-CSL chairman Pavel Belobradek is performing tricks that most citizens connect just with the party and that can be described as "I am telling neither A nor B, but I will be proved right," Mitrofanov writes.
He writes that this style would not have to be bothersome if it were clear from it what the party wants in a given situation in the government-forming negotiations and what can be expected of it. Reality has been just opposite, Mitrofanov writes.
($1=20.123 crowns)
CTK
 

Botswana wants closer cooperation with Czechs - ambassador
Pretoria, South Africa, Nov 30 (CTK) - Botswana is interested in closer cooperation with Czech firms and universities, and this is to be boosted by a visit of Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemani to the Czech Republic starting on Sunday, Czech ambassador to South Africa Blanka Fajkusova has told CTK.

This will be the first visit on ministerial level. Botswana "is a stable operable democracy that has declared a policy of zero tolerance of corruption. It is seeking a transparent and favourable economic environment and business conditions in general," Fajkusova said.
Possible trade cooperation is to be one of the themes of the forthcoming talks between Skelemani and his Czech counterpart Jan Kohout.
Currently, bilateral trade is minimal. The Czech Republic has, however, long cooperated with Botswana in tertiary education.
"Since there was no medical faculty in Botswana until recently, it is sending all its medics to study abroad," Fajkusova said.
"The Czech Republic is one of the countries where these students study for Botswana government scholarships. At present there are some 120 of them," Fajkusova said.
"In view of that there are some 400 physicians in all Botswana, most of them will have Czech education in a couple of years," she added.
"We are very much interested in extending this activity also to other spheres of education, in offering Botswana further branches of study," Fajkusova said.
She mentioned technical, particularly mining branches because mining plays an important role in Botswana's economy.
CTK

Czechs say Soviet late dissident Gorbanevskaya was hero.Prague, Nov 30 (CTK) - Soviet dissident Natalya Gorbanevskaya, who died in Paris in the night aged 77, was a hero for Czechs and the Czech Republic should never forget her, Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said in a press release today.

Chamber of Deputies chairman Jan Hamacek said it is a pity the effort to decorated her with a Czech state award while alive failed. Gorbanevskaya, now 77, was one of the "Magnificent Eight" dissidents who staged a protest against the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, which crashed the Communist-led reform process, on Red Square in Moscow in late August 1968.
The protest in Moscow was terminated after a few minutes by a police intervention.
Unlike the other protesters, Gorbanevskaya was not put on trial as she had a small baby. However, at the end of 1969, the Communist authorities had her interned in a mental hospital from which she was only released after more than two years.
"Gorbanevskaya was a courageous person who honoured principles and did not hesitate to publicly defend them even in cases concerning others. I was surprised at her energy and drive during our recent meeting," Kohout wrote.
Gorbanevskaya visited the Czech Republic recently. She met President Milos Zeman, remembered the late former president Vaclav Havel and was presented with a Charles University commemorative medal.
"She was a person who was spilling over her energy to her surroundings. Our country should never forget people like her," Kohout wrote.
"Natalya Gorbanevskaya deserves our thanks and recognition for her principled stand. There are always few such pepsonalities and we must not forget their legacy. I hope that our republic appreciate her deeds in memoriam at least," Hamacek wrote.
CTK

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas tree from Bohemia to decorate Vatican's main square
Domazlice, West Bohemia, Nov 29 (CTK) - The Christmas tree decorating the Vatican's main square this year will be from the Czech Republic, Czech server Denik.cz has written, adding that the spruce, about 60 years old and 25 metres tall, is from the Domazlice area
bordering on Bavaria.

The tree is a gift the town of Domazlice presents to the Vatican. Its transport will be secured by Trenckfestspiele, a civic group from Bavarian border town Waldmuenchen.
A Czech tree will not be erected in the Vatican for the first time. In 1999, the St Peter's Square was decorated by a spruce from the Beskydy mountains, north Moravia.
The Catholic news agency Kathpress originally reported that this year the tree will be brought to the Vatican from Bavaria, but it turned out that the chosen spruce stood on the Czech side of the border.
Foresters cut it near Folmava, a village and a border crossing in the Domazlice area, on Wednesday.
"The town of Domazlice provides the tree as a gift. The rest of the costs will be covered by Waldmuenchen and the Bavarian government," Domazlice Mayor Miroslav Mach told Denik.cz.
"For us it is a very prestigious event," said Jan Benda, director of the Domazlice municipal forests.
At present the spruce is in Waldmuenchen. On Sunday it will be dispatched to Rome via Austria.
"The most difficult will be the passage through Munich, the Alpine tunnels and Rome," Benda is quoted as saying.
The tree will be installed in St Peter's Square on December 6 and lit up one week later.
CTK

Ukraine to blame for deal's flop, EU could be flexible - Czech PM
Vilnius, Lithuania, Nov 29 (CTK) - The main reasons why Ukraine refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union rest in the country's political and economic situation, but the EU could have been more flexible in some respects, Czech Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok said today.

Speaking after a two-day summit of the Eastern Partnership that ended today, Rusnok said the question of time is very important for Ukraine now.
Rusnok said he believes Ukraine's short-term interests prevailed over the long-term ones.
"I consider this the key problem of why the association agreement was not signed as expected," Rusnok said.
The Eastern Partnership summit dealt not only with Ukraine, but also with EU's relationships with other post-Soviet states - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova.
Rusnok said the stand of the Czech Republic does not change. It still supports leaving the door open for both Ukraine and other Eastern partners.
The Czech Republic wants to be active in this process and it has offered to host a conference in Prague next spring that would keep going the "Eastern Partnership agenda on the highest possible level," Rusnok said.
Nevertheless, Rusnok said the possibility of the agreement in question being signed in the Czech Republic is unrealistic.
"Let's not be too romantic. It would definitely be nice and symbolical, but I think it needs time," Rusnok said.
The proposed conference would be held on the 5th anniversary of the launch of the Eastern Partnership project.
The next Eastern Partnership summit is to be held in Riga in 2015 only.
Rusnok said the EU should take a lesson from the failure of the association agreement with Ukraine.
"We must perhaps be more active in what we are capable of offering our partners in the East and to do it quickly," Rusnok said.
But he pointed to the unclear position of Kiev.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych presented five or six conditions, under which he said his country would reconsider the signing of the deal with the EU.
Rusnok noted that given the latest developments it is unsure whether Kiev would not come with additional conditions.
He recalled that one of Ukrainian conditions is that the negotiations be trilateral, including also Russia, which is unacceptable for the EU.
"We are not talking of an association agreement with Russia," Rusnok said.
He said the joint dinner of the heads of states and governments at the summit on Thursday was delayed by almost one hour over last-moment intensive negotiations with the Ukrainians.
The EU delegation met Ukraine's representatives on Thursday afternoon when the Ukrainians submitted three conditions concerning the association agreement's implementation schedule, help in their cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and the involvement of Russia in the negotiations, a diplomatic source told CTK on condition of anonymity.
At last, the Ukrainians gave up the last mentioned condition and a declaration was made that said Kiev is still interested in the EU association agreement if certain conditions were met.
Regardless of the declaration, Yanukovych presented five conditions again at the joint dinner later on Thursday.
Another round of negotiations took place, but in his speech today, Yanukovych presented even six conditions set by Kiev.
Rusnok said he shared Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski's view, which he openly expressed at the dinner, that the EU cannot promise what others can promise, but, unlike others, it has to fulfil it.
Despite the "Ukrainian issue's failure" the atmosphere at the negotiations was positive. "It is up to our Ukrainian friends to decide. No one will exert pressure on anyone. Nevertheless, the interest does exist on the EU's part," Rusnok added.
Massive demonstrations have been organised in Kiev in protest against the Ukrainian government last week announcement that the country suspended the talks on signing a political and trade deal with the EU.
On Monday, former Ukraine's prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko went on hunger strike in prison in support of the signing of the EU-Ukraine deal.
The EU political representatives criticise Russia for exerting pressure on Ukraine. Moscow, too, says the EU presses on Kiev.
CTK

Swiss MUS verdict leaves Czechs with compensation chance - lawyer
Prague/Bellinzona, Switzerland, Nov 29 (CTK) - The Czech state hails the Swiss verdict on MUS as it leaves Prague with a chance of reaching compensation for the damage incurred, lawyer Roman Pecenka said, reacting to the court's decision not to compensate the Czechs from the suspects' accounts blocked in Switzerland.

The court will not earmark any money from the accounts blocked over the case of the fraudulent privatisation of the Czech MUS company as a compensation for either the Czech Republic or MUS's successor Czech Coal Services (CCS), the court decided today.
The verdict has not taken effect yet.
"We definitely welcome the verdict, as we consider it the most important [its recognition] that the Czech Republic suffered a big damage and at the same time it leaves other channels for us to reach the financial means," Pecenka, from the PRK Partners lawyer's office representing the Czech state, said.
Prague has five years to seek its claims, he recalled.
Czech Finance Ministry's spokesman Ondrej Sramek said the state will decide on what further steps to take after consulting the legal situation.
The ministry will use all legal means to protect the Czech Republic's rightful interests, Sramek added.
Swiss investigators blocked an equivalent of 13.3 billion crowns (over 600 million Swiss francs) on the accounts of six Czech ex-managers of MUS, on whom the court imposed jail sentences in October for fraud and money laundering. The verdict has not taken effect yet.
The court today decided that the above ex-managers, Jiri Divis, Antonin Kolacek, Marek Cmejla, Petr Kraus, Oldrich Klimecky and the late Lubos Mekota should pay over 720 million Swiss francs worth of compensation to the Swiss state.
Karolina Zelenkova, a representative of the convicts said "this confirms that the trial was fabricated with the only aim - to confiscate Czech citizens' money to the benefit of Swiss citizens."
"There is no thinkable theoretical or practical possibility of the sale of the MUS coal mines from the state to private ownership harming Switzerland," Zelenkova said.
"That is why we appeal on the Czech government to resolutely intervene against this unprecedented step of the Swiss Federation and to remind Switzerland that the Czech Republic still remains a sovereign state," Zelenkova said.
The tribunal head Jean-Luc Bacher said in the case of the Czech Republic the damage incurred could only be estimated, while its exact calculation would require excessive efforts.
While giving the October verdict, the court set the damage caused to the Czech Republic at 97 million Swiss francs, while the prosecution set it at 149 million, Bacher recalled.
The Czech Republic can use civil law means to seek compensation for the damage incurred, Bacher said.
The same applies to CCS, he continued, adding that CCS is a company that does not deal with economic issues. He also put in question the connection between CCS and MUS, which has undergone many transformations meanwhile.
Graziella de Falco Haldemann, the Swiss prosecutor in charge of the MUS case, told journalists that the court decision not to earmark any compensation for the Czech Republic took her by surprise.
The Czech Republic, nevertheless, can seek compensation using other channels, for example, within international legal assistance, de Falco Haldemann said.
The Czech state attorney's office previously used international legal assistance to ask for the MUS ex-managers' accounts in Switzerland to be blocked for the needs of the parallel Czech criminal proceedings.
Bacher said of the blocked money, 180 million Swiss francs will be confiscated as it has been proved that they originate from crime. Another 370 million remain blocked for compensation purposes.
Five million have been released to the convicts, who, however, will not reach the money in view of the compensation they have to pay.
Both sides can appeal today's verdict in 30 days after the delivery of its written text.
The ex-managers of MUS, former brown coal mining company seated in northern Bohemia, are suspected of having bought shares in the then state-owned MUS for its money which they did not return. They caused damage to the Czech state by buying the state stake in MUS for an inappropriately low sum of 650 million crowns in 1999, the court said.
($1=20.120 crowns)
CTK

Czech lawyer sues President Zeman over Klaus's amnesty authorship
Prague, Nov 29 (CTK) - Pavel Hasenkopf, former lawyer of the Czech Presidential Office, has sued President Milos Zeman and his office head Vratislav Mynar for their claim that he is one of the authors of the controversial amnesty that Vaclav Klaus declared in January, Hasenkopf writes on Facebook today.

He writes that he wants the Presidential Office to correct its statements and pay him one million crowns in compensation.
Hasenkopf has been saying he did not prepare the text of the amnesty.
Mynar told CTK that he insisted that Hasenkopf worked on the amnesty. He said he can prove it.
"The authorship of Mr Hasenkopf is absolutely clear from the materials he himself handed to me," Mynar said.
In April, Mynar told daily Pravo that Hasenkopf, along with former president Klaus's assistants Ladislav Jakl and Petr Hajek, worked out the amnesty.
Zeman, who replaced Klaus as the head of state in March, repeated this view and even said Hasenkopf was the main author of a controversial part of the amnesty, which abolished criminal prosecution lasting more than eight years.
Based on this article, criminal proceedings of several hundred suspects have been halted. This related to some high-profile corruption and financial fraud cases, which has caused a big outcry and a steep fall in Klaus's popularity among Czechs.
Hasenkopf said previously lawyer Zdenek Koudelka was the real author of the amnesty. Koudelka dismissed it.
Hasenkopf writes on Facebook that he started preparing his criminal complaint in August, after Mynar refused to apologise to him.
The Prague City Court will deal with his complaint against Zeman, Mynar and the Presidential Office.
Hasenkopf said he filed the complaint only now because Mynar ran in the October general election and he wanted to avoid being suspected of trying to influence the election result.
Hasenkopf said Zeman and Mynar might have believed that he really was one of the authors of the amnesty because somebody from the Presidential Office falsely accused him.
($1=20.120 crowns)
CTK

Czech instructors of Afghan helicopter pilots awarded
Prague, Nov 29 (CTK) - Thirty Czech soldiers who were training pilots of Afghan military helicopters were presented with the defence minister's medals For Service Abroad and they were praised by deputy chief of staff Ales Opata for their ability to work in a risky environment.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Schnabel, member of the Defence Ministry's Joint Operational Centre, was presented with the U.S. Joint Service Commendation Medal for his active and professional approach and cooperation in the development of the Czech and U.S. armed forces.
Defence Ministry secretary general Jan Vylita pointed out that the soldiers contributed to raising the Afghan armed forces' readiness for action and that they confirmed the reputation of real professionals.
The unit's commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Jaroslav Falta said he is happy that all soldiers returned home in order.
Two unit members also received the For Merit badge and three wristwatches.
The Czech air force consultative team has operated in Afghanistan since April 2008, based on rotation.
The 29-member unit decorated today was the 17th. The soldiers trained Afghanis on Mi-17 and Mi-24 helicopters, including maintenance and repairs.
Besides the consultative team in Kabul, Czech soldiers also operated in Logar province, where a provincial reconstruction team was stationed, and in Wardak province.
CTK

 

 

 

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Friday, November 29,2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 28 (CTK) - Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) leader Bohuslav Sobotka's demand that President Milos Zeman should ask the outgoing Jiri Rusnok's government not to make any major decisions means that the coalition pact is not in the offing, Martin Zverina writes in Lidove noviny

There is the question of whether the Social Democrats can afford to form a coalition with two rather opaque groupings. This is absolutely impossible, Zverina writes.
Tomio Okamura's Dawn of Direct Democracy has a chance of replacing the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) in some individual votes in the future, but only a desperate political suicide would invite it to the government, he adds.
Sobotka has no choice but to start another round of the talks on the creation of the government in which his partners change their positions, Zverina writes, adding that this relates to the return of property to churches and the lustration law.

Vladimir Spidla's return to the government would eliminate a stereotype, Zbynek Petracek writes in Lidove noviny (LN), commenting on the suggestion that the former Czech prime minister may become environment minister in the government in the making.
If he really becomes the minister, he would harm one well-established stereotype that former prime ministers leave office more or less angered and never return to the executive, let alone to the post of minister, Petracek writes.
Vaclav Klaus (Civic Democratic Party, ODS), Spidla, Stanislav Gross (CSSD), Jiri Paroubek (CSSD) and Mirek Topolanek (ODS) vanished from the government claiming that they were not considering returning to it, he adds.
Spidla would be the first to do so. In fact, he may return from the post of European commissioner, which many considered a sort of fall, but this should be normal, Petracek writes.

It is obvious from the ongoing talks on the new government who will have the main say in it, Stanislav Balik writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD), adding that this will not be the Christian Democrats, the minor partner.
One can only wonder why they accepted the form of the talks in which the two dominant partners, the Social Democrats and ANO, have had bilateral meetings, Balik writes.
The situation in which the Christian Democrats will be in the new government will be new for their senior officials in the background. There are two reasons for it, he adds.
First, when they were in the previous postcommunist governments, these were composed of one big and two or more small parties whose influence was rather big, if not enormous, Balik writes.
However, this will be different in the planned Sobotka's government, he adds.
Second, Christian Democrat votes in the Chamber of Deputies are this time not indispensable for the Social Democrats and ANO, Balik writes.
If needed, the Communists or the Dawn of Direct Democracy may replace the absence of Christian Democrats' votes, he adds.
The Christian Democrats seem to be aware of the option that they may be replaced and that this time, their chances will be much smaller, Balik writes.
One can see the first signs of their effort to insist on their principles on the one hand, but not to anger their stronger partners on the other, he adds.
One can also hear in the party the voices that it may be more beneficial for it to go into opposition in the long run. If the coalition partners do not guarantee a dignified treatment of the party, the party's negotiators should obey the calls, Balik writes.
CTK
 

Weakening Zeman wants his man at Czech Foreign Ministry - press
Prague, Nov 29 (CTK) - The weakening Czech President Milos Zeman is not giving up and he wants to have his man in the emerging new coalition government of Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes today.

It writes that Zeman, who has failed in carrying out several power plans and is losing influence "below his presidential seat at Prague Castle," is looking for new allies and he is also eyeing the emerging government.
His newest idea is to implant Hynek Kmonicek, head of the Presidential Office foreign department, in the new government, HN writes.
After Sobotka has clearly and publicly refused taking ministers of Jiri Rusnok's outgoing government, which Zeman pushed through against the will of the Chamber of Deputies in August, on his team, Zeman now offers Kmonicek for the post of foreign minister, HN writes.
"I am a career diplomat and a rank-and-file member of Social Democracy. It is primarily up to the CSSD whether, when and how it would make use of my profession within the ongoing negotiations," HN quotes Kmonicek as having said on Thursday.
He did not cut short the speculations about Zeman's effort to send him to the government with his further statement, HN writes.
"Naturally if such a solution could simplify the situation and help bring about something reasonable, I would be able to reach agreement with the president [on ending Kmonicek's Prague Castle engagement]," Kmonicek added.
The presidential "attack" led via the Foreign Ministry has its logic. The ministry has become one of sensitive points of the government coalition negotiations and it is also a weak point for Sobotka, HN writes.
This may be rather surprising because it is no classical power centre with a key economic and political influence, but several circumstances that have combined now make it an important territory, HN writes.
First, both the CSSD and Andrej Babis's ANO movement are interested in the post of foreign minister in the emerging government, HN writes.
Zeman, too, has shown that he considers the foreign agenda his field, which he proved by his squabbling over the filling of the ambassadorial posts in Russia and Slovakia with former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, HN writes.
Sobotka wants to push to the post his ally Lubomir Zaoralek, CSSD deputy chairman, but Zeman and Zaoralek have long been at loggerheads, HN writes.
It writes that it is speculated behind the stage that Sobotka considers Zaoralek's engagement on his government, particularly at the head of the Foreign Ministry, a test of his new political force in relation to Zeman, HN writes.
Sobotka was also at loggerheads with Zeman for long, but the defeat of the Party of Citizens' Rights-the Zemanites (SPOZ), of which Zeman is honorary chairman, in the recent general election and Sobotka's victory over intra-party opponents supported by Zeman, have strengthened him.
Sobotka did not say after another of his beforehand announced meetings with Zeman whether Kmonicek's possible becoming foreign minister was also taken up, HN writes.
"As long as the CSSD has the foreign minister, I can see better and stronger candidates," Sobotka only wrote to HN.
This situation could benefit Martin Stropnicky, ANO's candidate for the post, HN writes and points out that Zeman is settling relations with Babis.
The problem with the negative lustration certificate that Zeman wants government members to present does not seem any longer to be insurmountable in relation to Babis after they met last week, HN writes.
Babis may face a problem with submitting the certificate because he is registered in StB files in Slovakia from which he originates. He seeks exoneration in court proceedings that are underway in Slovakia.
However, Zeman, who is seeking new allies, HN writes, is easing his stand on the lustration in Babis's case.
Czech ANO chairman Andrej Babis would not need a lustration (screening) certificate if he became a deputy prime minister and did not head a ministry in the new government, Pavel Belobradek told daily Pravo this week.
Belobradek, chairman of the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), a third potential government coalition member, referred to the stance of Ales Gerloch from the Faculty of Law of Prague's Charles University.
CTK

Czech budget needs to be passed by year's end, ANO, CSSD agree
Prague, Nov 29 (CTK) - The Czech state budget for 2014 needs to be passed by the end of December to avoid a stop-gap budget, Social Democrat (CSSD) and ANO leaders, Bohuslav Sobotka and Andrej Babis, told journalists after a meeting of the two parties' negotiators shortly before midnight.

The CSSD and ANO are negotiating about a possible coalition government including also the small Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
The CSSD and ANO also want to submit an amendment to the law on civil service, which is required by the European Commission, to the newly elected lower house of parliament by the end of the year.
Babis said the CSSD and ANO long discussed the state budget bill, approved by the outgoing interim government of Jiri Rusnok (unaffiliated).
"We don't agree with everything. We will propose a modification in the second reading," Babis said.
ANO believes that the state expenditures may be lowered.
Sobotka said the three potential coalition parties would submit the bill on civil service still in December before the forming of the government.
The EC said the Czech Republic would not be allowed to drawing EU subsidies unless it passed the law.
The ANO and the CSSD said they would like to complete the text of the coalition agreement approximately in two weeks.
Sobotka said the chapters on health care and education have been finished, but taxes need to be further dealt with.
In the areas of European integration and security the views of the two parties' got closer.
Sobotka said ANO presented comments to the CSSD proposals for pro-growth measures.
He said ANO and the CSSD are moving towards an agreement on the abolition of the second pillar of the pension system, which was introduced by the previous right-wing government in January, but only a relatively small number of people joined it.
ANO, the CSSD and the KDU-CSL will start talking of the draft coalition agreement on Monday, December 2.
CTK

Czech military close to sale of 28 redundant L-159 combat planes
Prague, Nov 29 (CTK) - The Czech military is close to the sale of 28 redundant L-159 combat planes after years-long effort, Defence Minister Vlastimil Picek said today, adding that interest was shown by U.S. Draken International firm.

The firm wants to buy 24 operable planes and four for spare parts. The contract price will be between 434 and 516 million crowns, depending on the equipment of individual aircraft, Picek said.
The Czech military has 72 L-159 planes for which it paid 51 billion crowns years ago, but the pilots only need about a third of them. A total of 36 planes have been conserved.
Picek said he believes the contract will be signed and that it will have two parts.
Draken International is to buy 12 operable combat planes and two for spare parts in the first stage. If it is satisfied with their technical condition, it will use an option for another "package" of the same size, Picek said.
The basic price of each of the offered planes is 15.5 million crowns and it can be raised by 1.4 million if it has a functioning radar. The price would climb up to 3.4 million crowns where a radar warning receiver is operable.
The option is to be part of the contract because the planes are conserved in special packaging and the firm cannot check their technical condition before the purchase of the first portion.
The Defence Ministry will submit the contract to the outgoing government for approval in the second December week, Picek said.
If the government approves it, the contract will be signed in January and the first supply to the United States could be made in March.
Draken International operates in the United States. It supplies aircraft to simulate aerial combat. Its services are used by the U.S. Air Force.
($1=20.120 crowns)
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Coping with Romany issue would prevent rising extremism-Slovak PM
Prague, Nov 28 (CTK) - The government can better cope with growing extremism if it is capable of resolving the Romany issue, visiting Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said in reply to a CTK question today.

CTK asked Fico what can prevent in Central Europe a rise in the popularity of people such as Slovak rightist extremist Marian Kotleba who unexpectedly became governor of the Banska Bystrica Region in the weekend elections.
"I believe that Slovakia has long been faced with an issue that we call the Romany problem. It depends on the government's approach to the problem," Fico said.
Kotleba, leader of the extreme-rightist People's Party Our Slovakia (LSNS), is infamous for his anti-Romany statements. He organised anti-Romany marches in the past.
The Banska Bystrica Region has long had an above-average unemployment rate and in some districts it amounts up to some 30 percent. The region also has the biggest number of Romany-inhabited municipalities.
In connection with Romanies some critics speak about abuse of welfare benefits.
Fico said Slovak parliament has passed a bill under which every person depending on welfare benefits must prove they do public benefit work, otherwise they are deleted from the register of people entitled to the benefits.
Czech outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok said he would be glad if such a system, abolished by the Constitutional Court (US) in the past, existed in the Czech Republic as well.
He said it is necessary to return to the system where benefits are paid out only to people who do some work or study, but in a way that would also suit the US.
Rusnok said growing extremism can also be prevented by ensuring equal opportunities for people.
Rusnok and Fico signed an agreement on mutual recognition of education documents between the Czech and Slovak republics that will benefit university graduates.
Some 24,000 Slovaks are studying in the Czech Republic now.
The agreement does not count with the recognition of documents in access to regulated professions, or those whose exercise falls under special legal regulations, and recognition of the titles of senior lecturers and professors.
The new agreement replaces the previous one and it has been necessitated mainly by changes in the two countries' legislation.
CTK

 

 

 

 

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Thursday,November 28,2013

Czech lustration to protect against Communist secret service
Prague, Nov 28 (CTK) - A selection of data on the lustration law, one of the issues of the ongoing talks on the future Czech coalition government
:

- A law setting some more preconditions for the execution of some posts in the civil service and organisations of the former Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia (lustration law) was passed by the Federal Assembly (Czechoslovak parliament) in October 1991.
- A similar lustration legislation was passed by the Czech National Council (Czech parliament before Czechoslovakia's 1992 split) for the work with the police, the prison service and the Interior Ministry six months later ("small lustration law").
- With the lustrations, the lawmakers wanted to protect newly established institutions against the influence of the Communist-era secret service (StB) and people associated with it.
- The law set down the conditions that must be fulfilled by the people seeking posts in the civil service, regional authorities, the judiciary, the military, the BIS counter-intelligence, the public media, state-owned companies, the state funds and the CNB central bank.
- The legislation bars people who in 1948-1989 were StB agents or collaborators, were active in the Czechoslovak Communist Party (KSC) district committees and further up its hierarchy and the para-military People's Militia or studied at KGB academies for at least three months from working in the above spheres.
- The negative lustration certificate is issued by the Interior Ministry. It must be produced by all who are named, elected or installed in senior posts. The documents must be presented by judges, the director of the public broadcaster Czech Television (CT), head of the Government Office as well as generals and elected dignitaries in academic councils of universities.
- The presentation of negative lustration certificate was required of proposed ministers before their naming by former presidents Vaclav Havel (1989-2003) and Vaclav Klaus (2003-201). The current head of state, Milos Zeman, has announced that he will want the ministers to submit a negative lustration certificate. He says its necessity is proven by a number of legal opinions drawn up on his request.
- At first, the laws were to be in force for five years, but their validity was prolonged for another four years in October 1995 and the limitation was fully lifted at the end of 2000. In Slovakia, the lustration law's validity was ended at the end of 1996.
- In both cases, Havel refused to sign the prolongation of the law, but his veto was twice outvoted by the Chamber of Deputies. Havel argued that rather than prolonging the "revolutionary legislation," it should be in the state interest to pass a law on civil service.
- Since its beginning, the law has been considered controversial and it came under criticism both inside and outside the country. The Council of Europe spoke against its existence.
- In November 1992, the Constitutional Court (US) cancelled that part of the law that required the duty to find out whether citizens were registered in the category informant and candidate of secret cooperation. People were often recorded in the categories without their knowledge.
- In the past, a number of unsuccessful proposals to cancel the law were submitted. In December 2001, the US rejected such a proposal submitted by Social Democrat (CSSD) deputies.
- The lustration law has become an issue in the talks on a new government that are being conducted by the CSSD, ANO 2011 and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL). ANO leader Andrej Babis may face a problem with submitting a negative lustration certificate as he is registered in StB files in Slovakia from which he originates. He seeks exoneration in court proceedings that are underway in Slovakia. Babis has made it clear he does not intend to ask for the certificate and repeatedly denied any collaboration with StB. However, ANO does not intend to propose the scrapping of the lustration law, ANO deputy chairwoman Vera Jourova has said. Most ANO's deputies believe that it is an obsolete relic of its time, Jourova said, adding that it had served its purpose and now she would vote for its scrapping.
- The Communists (KSCM) have announced they are considering scrapping the law. They may be backed by the Social Democrats. CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka has said the law already fulfilled its role. He said the talks on the government composition should not be hampered by the interpretation of the lustration law.
- However, the lustration law is untouchable for the Christian Democrats. Party deputy chairman Jan Bartosek said this could be a reason for them not to enter the planned coalition government. On the other hand, party leader Pavel Belobradek's statements have been rather cautious. He said the Christian Democrat deputies and board had not discussed their insistence on the lustration law in the talks on the government. Belobradek said the Christian Democrats would not raise their hands for the scrapping of the lustration law at least until the end of this election term.
CTK

Interjections to help attract tourists to Prague - press
Prague, Nov 28 (CTK) - "Wow Prague" exclamation appears in a new visual style that is expressing positive emotions by various English interjections with the aim to attract more tourists to the Czech capital, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today.

The City Hall and the Prague Information Service (PIS) presented it on Wednesday.
MfD recalls that CNN recently listed Prague in the top ten cities for a winter holiday and it compared the metropolis with hundreds of towers and winding lanes to "a winter fairy tale."
The atmosphere in Prague simply provokes pleasant emotions and the stay there is a great experience that is hard to express in words.
This is why the authors of the new presentation, from the Dynamo design graphic studio, have chosen various generally understandable interjections, such as "Oooh, Wow, Mmm, and Yeah," to mediate the city's magic and "genius loci," MfD adds.
Other used interjections are related to particular experiences in Prague, such as excellent food and drinks and cultural events. "Yum" is connected with gastronomy, "Yippee" is a child's explanation, while "Shhh" is uttered, for instance, when listening to good music, MfD writes.
"The new visual style is therefore based on the emotions, feelings and experiences of visitors. The clear, positive and internationally comprehensible solution is accompanied by the 'Pure Emotion' slogan," PIS director Nora Dolanska told MfD.
English interjections along with the sign "Prague" will be printed on the city's promotional leaflets and brochures as of now, MfD adds.
"The new style tries to show Prague as a vital and dynamic city," graphic artist Alena Janska said.
She admitted that it might not be very comprehensible for Czechs. However, it should primarily target foreigners, she added.
CTK

Three candidates for Czech foreign minister - press
Prague, Nov 28 (CTK) - Social Democrat (CSSD) Lubomir Zaoralek, Martin Stropnicky (ANO) and Hynek Kmonicek, head of the Presidential Office foreign department, are candidates for the post of Czech foreign minister in the government in the making, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today
.

"I reckon with Zaoralek for the government team," Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka replied to the question of whether Zaoralek, the party's deputy chairman, is its candidate for the post of foreign minister.
However, he may assume a different post in the government, most probably the deputy prime minister for European affairs, MfD writes.
In such a case, the post might be filled by food mogul Andrej Babis's ANO. Stropnicky, former Czech ambassador to the Vatican, is its serious candidate for the post, it adds.
However, another, somewhat surprising name is also in the game, MfD writes, referring to its own information.
In the haggling over the post with its coalition partners, the Social Democrats may defend the post by naming an expert with good relations with President Milos Zeman, it adds.
It may be Kmonicek, MfD writes.
With the move, the CSSD could place Zaoralek in the government as the "European" deputy prime minister, it adds.
To put it mildly, Zaoralek is not on good terms with Zeman who is almost certain to be opposed to his appointment as foreign minister, MfD writes.
Zaoralek was reputedly one of the CSSD deputies who refused to vote for Zeman in the 2003 presidential election, held in the parliament.
No member of the outgoing Jiri Rusnok's government will probably stay in the government that is being created by the Social Democrats, ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), MfD writes.
Sobotka has clearly ruled it out that Justice Minister Marie Benesova (CSSD) and Defence Minister Vlastimil Picek would be present in his government again, it adds.
The Christian Democrats have prepared their candidates for the government. They will want their leader Pavel Belobradek to become agriculture minister, deputy chairman Roman Linek to be local development minister and Daniel Herman culture minister, MfD writes.
MfD repeats the information that the Social Democrats want their deputy chairman Milan Chovanec to be the new interior minister.
On Sunday, Babis proposed David Ondracka, head of the Czech branch of Transparency International head, for interior minister, it adds.
CTK

Babis not to need lustration as Czech deputy PM - KDU-CSL head
Prague, Nov 28 (CTK) - Czech ANO chairman Andrej Babis would not need a lustration (screening) certificate if he became a deputy prime minister and did not head a ministry in a new government, Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) leader Pavel Belobradek told today's issue of daily Pravo.

Belobradek referred to the stance of Ales Gerloch from the Faculty of Law of Prague's Charles University.
Unlike a deputy PM a minister would need a negative lustration certificate since he is heading part of the state administration directly, Belobradek added.
Babis is registered as an informer and later an agent of the former communist secret police (StB) in its files. He, however, denies any cooperation with it, claiming that the documents were fabricated.
Babis, who is of Slovak origin, has filed a legal complaint in this respect against the Slovak Nation's Memory Institute (UPN), administering the security forces' files, with the Bratislava court. The court has not decided on his case yet.
Basis wants to occupy the post of finance minister in the new government that his ANO is to form with the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Christian Democrats. President Milos Zeman, however, said he would demand that the government members submit a negative lustration certificate, which could be a problem for Babis.
In reaction to it, the Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO would like to seek the abolition of the lustration law from October 1991 which bars former top Communists functionaries and StB collaborators from high political and economic posts.
However, the Christian Democrats categorically reject the law's abolition, which Belobradek reiterated in Pravo today.
He said his party do not consider the legislation useless.
This is why the Christian Democrats would like the coalition agreement to include a general safeguard that would prevent the coalition partners from overriding them in crucial votes with the aid of other parties in parliament, in the case of the lustration law particularly with the Communists (KSCM).
Belobradek said the agreement should guarantee the veto right within the coalition in the votes on fundamental issues.
He also admitted that another controversial point was still the church restitution, that is the law on the return of and compensation for the property of churches confiscated by the Communist regime, which the CSSD would considerably amend.
Belobradek said the Christian Democrats would not be against changes to the law but they must be made on the basis of an agreement with the churches' representatives only.
CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 28 (CTK) - Legitimisation of Czech Communists (KSCM) has become a routine affair, Petr Pesek writes in Lidove noviny (LN), commenting on the election of Communist leader Vojtech Filip to the post of deputy chairman of the Chamber of Deputies.

However, the fact that over three-fourths of deputies raised their hands for Filip is rather warning, Pesek writes.
On the other hand, just a fraction of deputies voted for the candidates from the democratic right, Miroslava Nemcova (Civic Democratic Party, ODS) and Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09), he adds.
This must be called ostracisation of the two parties, Pesek writes.
The vote has sent two messages. First, one can see a lack of instinct of self-preservation of other leftist deputies from established democratic parties, he adds.
Second, the public was confronted for the first time with the new situation. Only the left, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and new, rather unanchored groupings matter, Pesek writes.

The results of the vote of the Chamber of Deputies deputy chairpersons can be considered a definitive humiliation of the "mainstream" Czech right and a revenge on Kalousek, Jindrich Sidlo writes in Hospodarske noviny.
It may be also understood as evidence that principles may be a fine thing, but they should not be exaggerated in practice, Sidlo writes.
As the public is not naive, it watched the rhetoric about the onset of a new era of relations between the majority and opposition in the Chamber of Deputies with a certain reserve, he adds.
Nevertheless, one must still warn: how long will the winner repeat the mistakes of those they defeated? Sidlo asks.

The creation of a new united leftist national front was finished with the election to senior posts in the Chamber of Deputies, Karel Steigerwald writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD).
It has occupied all the senior political posts in the state. The pillars of the front are President Milos Zeman, the Senate and now also the new Chamber of Deputies, Steigerwald writes.
In it, the relevant role is played by the Social Democrats, Communists and Tomio Okamura's Dawn of Direct Democracy, he adds.
The nearest future will show what position in the orchestra will be occupied by the ANO (YES) movement and the Christian Democrats, Steigerwald writes.
At present, ANO has a strong position in the lower house of parliament and it is dictating its conditions to Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka for the creation of a new government, he adds.
However, the voting machine can easily turn the tables in the Chamber of Deputies as the balance of power in it enables this, Steigerwald writes.
Forming a government and its vague statements in the Chamber of Deputies are one thing, but practical politics another, he adds.
The Communists used to be unacceptable for the government, but they may come to power through the back door of the Chamber of Deputies, Steigerwald warns.
CTK

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday, November 27,2013

Czech President to receive CSSD head Sobotka on Thursday
Prague, Nov 27 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman will receive Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka at the presidential country seat in Lany, central Bohemia, on Thursday within regular government-forming consultations, Sobotka wrote to CTK today.

Sobotka would like to form a government coalition with billionaire Andrej Babis's ANO movement and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) who returned to parliament after three years in the end-October early general election.
They command a 111-vote majority in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
The negotiating teams of the CSSD and ANO will meet on Thursday evening.
Zeman assigned Sobotka to lead negotiations about the formation of a majority government last week.
The Thursday meeting will be a third one between Zeman and Sobotka since the elections.
Sobotka said last week he wants to consult Zeman about the government negotiations every week until Zeman appoints him new prime minister.
Sobotka would like to form a new government by the year's end.
According to CSSD and ANO representatives, the final version of the coalition agreement could be ready within a fortnight.
The three potential government coalition partners are to start negotiating about it next week. Still before the talks, some bilateral talks of expert and negotiating teams are to be held.
CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 27 (CTK) - Czech Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) chairman Pavel Belobradek will play the role of a kingmaker in the potential government coalition with the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the ANO movement of billionaire Andrej Babis, Petr Honzejk writes in the daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

He says the CSSD and ANO will not form a cabinet without the Christian Democrats if they do not want to compromise themselves by cooperation with the nationalist and anti-Romany formation of Tomio Okamura, the Dawn of Direct Democracy.
The KDU-CSL has nothing to lose and this is why it may (and will) "play high," trying to push through as much as possible from its programme, Honzejk points out, reminding of the KDU's proposals for a joint taxation of married couples and tax reliefs for working parents.
The latter plan is really serious since it would also increase social insurance of the childless. It opens a moral issue whether the state should introduce "an infertility tax," Honzejk says.
In this respect the Christian Democrats' return to high politics is useful since they are bringing the aspect of values into the technological debate on tax rates and parameters, Honzejk writes.
The Christian Democrats undoubtedly face the temptation of power. It is up to Belobradek to use his party's strength reasonably, while Babis and CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka will have to learn to respect the KDU-CSL's strength. If they all stand the test, the result may move the society forward, Honzejk concludes in HN.

The leadership of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, will reflect the future governing of the nascent coalition of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), Martin Zverina writes in Lidove noviny (LN) today.
He recalls that the future coalition partners have so far agreed only on the posts for themselves in the lower house's leadership. Consequently, Jan Hamacek (CSSD) is to be the new Chamber chairman, while Jaroslava Jermanova (ANO) and Pavel Belobradek (KDU-CSL leader) will be the chairpersons.
However, the coalition parties are not able to reach consensus on another two deputy chairperson. The CSSD does not want TOP 09 deputy head Miroslav Kalousek and the Christian Democrats mind Communist (KSCM) head Vojtech Filip in the lower house's leadership.
The government coalition parties thereby show they can ignore their previous agreements, Zverina writes, recalling that they agreed previously on a proportional representation in the Chamber of Deputies leadership, that is on the election of TOP 09 and KSCM representatives.
This stance indicates that the future cooperation in the three-party coalition may be very problematic, Zverina adds.

The dispute about the post of the future interior minister reflects a battle between two worlds of ideas, Josef Kopecky writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.
He comments on the proposal of ANO chairman Andrej Babis that Transparency International (TI) Czech branch head David Ondracka occupy the post of interior minister
Kopecky writes that according to one principle, which traditional parties usually follow, the government posts are be we filled in a balanced way not to have a too strong coalition partner.
This is also why the election-winning Social Democrats (CSSD) let ANO occupy the post of finance minister in exchange for ANO's support to the CSSD's candidate for the Chamber of Deputies chairman. The CSSD cannot afford to give up another significant post, that is the interior minister's seat, Kopecky notes.
However, under the other principle, it is positive to find a candidate who is really well versed in the respective sector and at the same time a respected personality, which is undoubtedly the case of unaffiliated Ondracka, Kopecky writes.
CSSD chairmen Bohuslav Sobotka recently said he would like experienced people with managerial skills and moral integrity to head the ministries. Now he has a chance of showing how he has meant it, Kopecky writes in conclusion.
CTK

Czech Christian Democrats say lustration law untouchable
Prague, Nov 26 (CTK) - The lustration law banning pre-1989 repressive bodies' members from public administration is untouchable for Czech Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and if it were to be scrapped, it may be a reason for them not to join the planned cabinet, party deputy head Jan Bartosek told CTK today.

KDU-CSL chairman Pavel Belobradek voiced a softer stand at a press conference later in the afternoon. He said links between the lustration law and the KDU-CSL's government entry were not discussed at the KDU-CSL deputies group meeting today.
"I believe that it [the law's scrapping] would be a big problem for many of our deputies," Belobradek said.
The KDU-CSL would not support the law's abolition in the present election term at least, he added.
"I can see a great collision in this," said Bartosek, referring to the leftist parties' proposal that the lustration law be scrapped. He said the KDU-CSL representatives were considering including the lustration law in the talks on the future government along with Social Democrats (CSSD) and the centrist ANO as one of the major points.
The parties have started a dispute over whether the lustration law is obsolete.
In reaction to the KDU-CSL, CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka wrote to CTK today that "the debate on lustrations will not prevent the formation of a new government."
"People worry about entirely different things than the lustration law and our country needs a stable and competent cabinet. That is why the CSSD will continue intensive negotiations aimed to form a coalition cabinet," Sobotka added.
The lustration law, passed in Czechoslovakia in 1991, bars former Communist secret service (StB) collaborators, former members of the People's Militia para-military units and Communist functionaries from senior posts in the civil service.
The question was raised after ANO leader, food tycoon Andrej Babis, faced problems with receiving a clean lustration certificate he needs to become a minister.
President Milos Zeman has refused to appoint any minister without a clean lustration certificate.
The Slovak National Memory Institute (UPN) lists Babis among the StB agents. Babis says he is a victim because the StB kept a file on him without his knowledge. He seeks exoneration in court proceedings. A Slovak court is to decide on the case in January at the earliest.
"The ANO movement will not initiate the abolition of the lustration law," ANO deputy chairwoman Vera Jourova said today.
She admitted that most of ANO deputies consider the law an obsolete relict of the relevant period.
In her view, the law has met its purpose already and she would personally vote for its abolition, she said.
Belobradek touched on a solution previously mentioned by Babis, which is the use of the service law that would enable Babis to join the cabinet.
The service law was passed several years ago but its effectiveness has been repeatedly postponed since then.
The service law does not set lustration as a condition for a candidate to be appointed minister, Belobradek admitted.
Nevertheless, he said he would personally prefer the ministers at the helm of articular ministries producing a clean lustration certificate.
There is a chance for Babis to become a deputy prime minister, Belobradek added.
He probably hinted at the speculation that Babis may be deputy PM in charge of coordinating the economy and without a ministry of his own.
The abolition of the lustration law is demanded by Communists (KSCM) and the idea is not rejected by the CSSD either.
Social Democrat deputies discussed the issue today.
"The views differ and we will certainly return to the legislation," head of CSSD deputies' group Roman Sklenak has told journalists.
On the other hand, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), TOP 09, like the KDU-CSL, are against the scrapping of the law.
"We cannot imagine that the lustration law would no longer be valid and would be cancelled," Bartosek said.
The leader of the last party in parliament, Tomio Okamura (Dawn of Direct Democracy), has described the lustration law as obsolete and suggested that the service law be introduced to replace it.
In the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, the CSSD has 50 seats, ANO 47, the KSCM 33, TOP 09 26, the ODS 16 and the Dawn and the KDU-CSL 14 each.
CTK

Czech, Chinese PMs discuss restart of relations, investments
Bucharest, Nov 26 (CTK) - Czech Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang discussed mainly a restart of bilateral relations and the renewal of the trade commission at their meeting at the close of the Warsaw Initiative summit in Bucharest today, Rusnok told journalists
.

He said the Czech Republic offered China investment opportunities, mainly in the Moravian-Silesian region.
Rusnok and Li Keqiang also discussed the introduction of a direct flight connecting the two states.
The agenda also included the deepening of cooperation in the advanced technologies area, support to tourism, the academic and cultural exchange and development of contacts between people, Rusnok said.
The Warsaw Initiative focuses on deepening cooperation between China and 16 countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe.
Already in his speech this morning, Rusnok said he could see a marked potential for cooperation between European states and China mainly in the areas of trade, tourism, education and science.
Rusnok also said the Czech Republic would like to host the Warsaw Initiative summit next year. It would be a good opportunity for celebrating the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the then Czechoslovakia, he said.
At the same time, he supported the birth of a platform for cooperation between China and the European states involved.
A business and trade forum of the countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe is to be held in Prague this autumn, Rusnok said.
As far as the next summit is concerned, many states want to host the event. Apart from the Czechs, the organiser's status is also being sought by Bulgaria and Serbia, among others, Rusnok said.
Today's summit was the first opportunity for a top-level meeting between the new Chinese leadership and their counterparts from Central and Eastern Europe.
The summit was accompanied by a business forum attended by entrepreneurs from the countries involved. They discussed possible projects in the areas of energy, transport, communication, IT, agriculture, tourism and finance.
Rusnok has been accompanied by about a dozen Czech businessmen. They have not signed any contracts so far, the Czech Chamber of Commerce told CTK, adding that the goal of the businessmen's trip is mainly to establish contacts with their foreign counterparts and have informal meetings.
Apart from the Czech Republic and Romania, the European participants in today's summit were Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia.
The summit followed up a summit of the prime ministers and the Chinese prime minister in Warsaw in April 2012.
CTK

Czech group presents unique photos of former Siberian Gulag camps
Prague, Nov 26 (CTK) - Unique panoramic photographs from former Siberian labour camps that operated in the Joseph Stalin era are newly available on the Gulag.cz website of a Czech group that organised three expeditions to the area of the Salekhard-Igarka railway.

The expeditions found and documented the remains of 17 defunct labour camps, the Gulag.cz group head Stepan Cernousek said today.
The Salekhard-Igarka railway in northern Siberia was constructed mostly by prisoners from 1947 to 1953, but the incomplete project was stopped shortly after Stalin's death, Cernousek recalled.
The Gulag camps can still be found in the area, he said. The sites have not been documented until now, he added.
Further documents and pictures would be posted on the website so that all the material gathered is available in the spring, Cernousek said.
The panoramic photos were made by Pavel Blazek in September.
Cernousek said the first camp that the group was looking for about 250 km from the town of Turukhansk burned down in a recent taiga fire.
He said satellite maps helped them in their search the most.
The biggest of the labour camps, Barabanikha, was for one thousand inmates. Based on the data revealed the camp's original state can be reconstructed.
The expedition also found a diary of one of the prisoners, including personal comments, verses and technical drawings, on the latrine of the camp hospital.
The Gulag.cz group was set up in 2009 and it focuses on the Gulag system and the Soviet totalitarian regime. Its aim is to share and spread information about the Gulag and issues related to it.
CTK


 

 

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Tuesday, November 26,2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 26 (CTK) - It is rightful to debate the future of the Czech lustration law but it should not be abolished on the basis of the Communists' (KSCM) initiative, Zbynek Petracek writes in the daily Lidove noviny (LN) today.

The lustration law from October 1991 bans former top Communists functionaries and the former communist secret police (StB) collaborators from high political and economic posts.
Petracek writes that support to the lustration's law abolition expressed by Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman and possible future PM Bohuslav Sobotka provokes a number of questions: Why has he backed up the KSCM's proposal? Why has the new Chamber of Deputies started working exactly with this point? Petracek asks
He recalls that the lustration law actually protects the state administration from risk persons.
The valid legislation can be abolished if a majority of the lower house voted for it. However, it is rather strange that it would be initiated by the Communists, Petracek notes.
Is it really worth Sobotka's while to abolish the protection of several thousands of posts in the state administration to open the path to the government for of a few people (or one actually)? Petracek asks, hinting at ANO movement chairman Andrej Babis who is registered as an StB collaborator and is to become finance minister in the new government.

There is no ideal solution in the case of the Czech lustration law, Jindrich Sidlo writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.
He notes that 22 years after its passage future lower house chairman Jan Hamacek (CSSD), 35, and CSSD head and future PM Bohuslav Sobotka, 42, who both did not have time to compromise themselves by collaboration with the communist regime, will sign the decision to abolish the law.
The legislation was to protect the fresh democracy and its offices from the infiltration by Communist collaborators for a couple of years, so it is logical that is will be abolished once, Sidlo says.
However, it is extremely unfortunate that it will probably happen over Andrej Babis who, unlike the above mentioned young politicians, had enough time to collaborate with the previous regime, Sidlo points out.
He says Babis may make a generous gesture and announce that he will enter the government only after a court decides on his cooperation with the StB regardless of the vote on the lustration law.
"This is not an ideal solution but there is no such one in this case. Not even a good one," Sidlo concludes.

The proposal of ANO chairman Andrej Babis that Transparency International (TI) Czech branch head David Ondracka occupy the post of interior minister reopens a debate on the government members' professional and political characteristics, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in Pravo today.
The disputes have always concerned party membership, expert knowledge and managerial experience as well as the risk that such a person may go adrift, Mitrofanov adds.
He says Ondracka has apparently managerial experience though in a completely different and much smaller extent than the Interior Ministry, he is not a party member but he is undoubtedly an expert in the agenda, at least partially.
Only the risk that he might act at variance with the party that would send him to the cabinet remains, Mitrofanov writes.
"The talks on a new government are far from being closed. However, help by capable unaffiliated people would definitely not harm it," Mitrofanov writes in conclusion.

CTK

Czech Republic may host next Warsaw Initiative summit
Bucharest, Nov 26 (CTK) - The Czech Republic wants to host the summit of Warsaw Initiative, or China and 16 European states, in 2014, Czech outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok said at a meeting of the group's prime ministers today.

Rusnok said it would be a good opportunity to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the former Czechoslovakia.
Rusnok backed the establishment of a platform for regional cooperation within the framework of central, estern and southeastern European countries and China.
"Next year will be important for Czech-Chinese relations as we will celebrate the 65th anniversary of the establishment of our two countries' diplomatic relations," Rusnok said in his opening speech.
"On the basis of this, we would like to organise the next summit," he added.
An economic forum should be held within the summit at which businesspeople from the participating countries should meet again, Rusnok said.
Rusnok supported the idea of establishing associations for the cooperation of the countries of the region and China in individual areas.
"I believe that this may contribute to more intensive and efficient cooperation," he added.
He proposed that associations of the region's countries and China be created on the above occasion.
Rusnok said he could primarily see considerable potential for the cooperation of European countries with China in trade, tourism, education and science.
Today's summit is the first opportunity for a top level meeting of the new Chinese leadership with partners from central and eastern Europe.
This afternoon, Rusnok will have a bilateral meeting with his Chinese opposite number Li Keqiang. They will discuss cooperation in trade, investments, academic and cultural exchange and human contacts.
At the economic forum, businesspeople spoke about joint projects in energy, transport, communications, IT, agriculture, tourism and finances.
Rusnok is accompanied by some ten businesspeople within a mission staged by the Czech Chamber of Commerce.
Along with the Czech Republic and Romania, today's summit is attended by Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The event follows up a meeting of prime ministers of central, eastern and southeastern Europe and China in Warsaw last April.
CTK

Czech diplomacy welcomes world powers' agreement with Tehran
Prague, Nov 25 (CTK) - Czech diplomacy appreciates the fresh agreement between the world big powers and Tehran on reducing the Iranian nuclear programme, but much effort and diplomatic work is yet needed to achieve a comprehensive solution, the Czech Foreign Ministry writes on its website
.

The Czech Republic believes that Iranian Islamic Republic will fulfil its commitments in the six-month interim period and will enable the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to solve all persisting controversial issues linked to the Iranian nuclear programme, the ministry writes.
Czech security expert Milos Balaban said he considers the softening of the sanctions for Iran positive news.
"From the point of view of the international community it was not good when Iran was surrounded by tension that had an impact on the whole region," Balaban told CTK.
The result of the Geneva talks on reducing the Iranian nuclear programme is a clear step forwards, Czech Nuclear Safety Authority (SUJB) chairwoman Dana Drabova told the server iDnes.cz.
She said the most important is the setting of the 5-percent maximum level for uranium enrichment.
"Such agreements always depend on what the given state will really want to do. Let's believe that Iran has concluded that uranium enrichment to 5 percent is enough for its peace nuclear programme and that it will keep to it. There is no way to strip it of its technologies completely," Drabova said.
Six big powers signed a preliminary agreement with Iran in Geneva on Sunday. Iran pledged to restrict some parts of its nuclear programme in exchange for softening the sanctions the U.N. Security council and some states previously imposed on it after it failed to refute the suspicion that it was trying to develop a nuclear bomb.
Most countries consider the six-month agreement a step that will help reach a permanent agreement in this area.
CTK

Czech CSSD, ANO, KDU to back all measures taken by interim govt
Prague, Nov 25 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) will support all four legislative measures that the interim cabinet pushed through in the upcoming vote of the new Chamber of Deputies, CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka told the media today.

Sobotka, whose CSSD won the late October general election, spoke after a meeting of negotiators from the CSSD, ANO and the KDU-CSL which are potential partners in the nascent new government.
The legislative measures are linked to the civil code, health care financing and the law on public procurement.
The outgoing interim cabinet of Jiri Rusnok pushed them through as urgently needed pieces of legislation earlier this autumn after the previous Chamber of Deputies voted on its dissolution as a step to provoke early elections.
The measures were passed only by the Senate, the upper house of parliament. To remain valid, they need to be passed by the new Chamber of Deputies.
"We've agreed to support all the four legislative measures. The relevant majority has been created in the Chamber of Deputies that enables the four legislative measures to make it through and be valid," Sobotka.
The CSSD, ANO and the KDU-CSL together have a majority of 111 votes in the 200-seat lower house.
Sobotka admitted that the three parties are critical of the new Civil Code that was drafted by the previous right-wing cabinet and is to take effect as of 2014.
"However, we feel responsibility for preventing an outburst of legal chaos at the end of the year, which would negatively affect the economy and citizens," Sobotka said.
If the start of the Civil Code's validity were not postponed, the CSSD, ANO and the KDU-CSL would vote for the two legislative measures related to it, he said.
The Civil Code's postponement is sought by the Communists (KSCM) and the Dawn of Direct Democracy. However, outgoing Prime Minister Rusnok said he does not want the postponement.
Another legislative measure brings changes to the public procurement law, and the fourth one increases the state's health insurance contributions for selected groups of people by a total of 4.7 billion crowns a year.
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Slovak racist's success due to people's dissatisfaction - press
Prague, Nov 26 (CTK) - A majority of inhabitants of the Slovak Banska Bystrica Region is far from being "brown" or extremist in spite of nationalist Marian Kotleba's election regional governor, Maria Pesekova writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today, adding it was due to people's dissatisfaction.

Problems with the Romany minority, which forms some 10 percent of Slovakia's five million inhabitants, are more than evident, political scientist Pesekova writes.
She writes that the absence of an effective solution, the long-time hushing-up of the issue and the desire for "order" markedly contributed to the success of Kotleba, from the People's Party-Our Slovakia (LSNS).
Interestingly, however, the Banska Bystrica Region is not at all a region with the highest number of Romany inhabitants. The biggest concentration of Romanies is in eastern Slovakia, in the Presov and Kosice regions, Pesekova writes.
She writes that a little bit of adroit political instrumentalisation may be a simple recipe for success, and Kotleba is definitely good at this.
When one of the most beautiful Slovak chateaus, Krasna horka, burnt down last year and it showed later that the fire was most probably caused by smoking Romany-origin youths, Kotleba started to buy up the plots on which the houses in the local Romany settlement stood and he wants to drive their inhabitants away, Pesekova recalls.
She writes that the government is investing in ineffective programmes of social integration and has a special expert to deal with the Romany issue, but he has not yet done much, while Kotleba can present specific steps.
Pesekova writes that Czech ANO movement head Andrej Babis's sentence "I am working while the others are talking rubbish" can be applied to this case, and it appeals to voters.
Even though Kotleba can rejoice at his great victory, it will be his last political success on the level of the Banska Bystrica Region for a long time, Pesekova writes.
The weak point of the direct elections of regional governors in Slovakia is that the result of the election of regional assemblies (parliaments) and of the governors, though they are held at a time, can be entirely opposite and the majority in the assembly need not have the same political colour like the governor, Pesekova writes.
The same applies to mayors and town assemblies. That is why it is not unusual that the regional or town parliament places obstacles in the governor or mayor's way, Pesekova writes.
This has happened now in the Banska Bystrica regional assembly, in which 28 out of 49 seats have been taken by Prime Minister Robert Fico's Smer while Kotleba alone represents his party in the assembly, Pesekova writes.
She writes that such a governor will be politically entirely impotent against the leftist majority and will push through nothing at all.
In this situation Kotleba may try to make the impression of a politically injured unsoiled politician who is entirely helpless when facing the political establishment, and so win over a greater support, Pesekova writes.
This year's regional elections are most probably nothing but a starting point for Kotleba's further political career that he would like to build using all means of direct democracy, Pesekova writes.
She writes that this is the only possible way for Kotleba because any political career depending on political agreement with other parties is entirely unthinkable.
For the direct presidential election to be held next year Kotleba, 35, is too young, but the LSNS's way to the Slovak or European Parliament is not entirely ruled out, Pesekova writes.
She writes that this is possible because the national-orientated voter segment that used to have a 8 to 10 percent support has been abandoned - the LSNS did not cross the 5 percent parliamentary barrier in the latest general election in 2012 and it does not have the potential to return to parliament now, Pesekova writes.
Kotleba's potential will be rising as the government will not be resolving the Romany issue and social conflicts will be escalating, Pesekova writes.
CTK
 

 

 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.


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Monday, November 25,2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 25 (CTK) - All major Czech dailies comment on the government-forming negotiations between the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the ANO movement of Andrej Babis today.

CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka will most probably be prime minister, but he will be the ever weakest since no other government head has had a mere 50 of his lawmakers, and his "beloved" and "loving" President Milos Zeman will be doing everything to make his governing difficult, Petr Kambersky writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.
In the government his coalition partner (Babis and his ANO) who is almost as strong as he will be treading on his heels. It is a partner who is not bothered about intra-party democracy and who will be recalling to Sobotka that it was him who supported him during Michal Hasek's intra-CSSD coup, Kambersky writes.
On top of it, the regions may be flooding Sobotka with accounts to be paid. Is his position entirely hopeless? Sobotka's end has several times been "irreversible," but everyone who has bet against him, lost, Kambersky writes.

Martin Zverina writes in Lidove noviny (LN) that ANO and the CSSD need one another and this is well evident.
Sobotka is ready to leave to the potential government coalition partner the Finance Ministry which he claimed during the week. However, both parties have almost the same number of votes in the Chamber of Deputies and it would not be prudent to claim a set of posts that cannot be gained, Zverina writes.
After the weekend it looks as if ANO's head Andrej Babis were the lord of the coalition, but the fall of the CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka would be blamed on ANO and it would therefore shoulder all responsibility, Zverina writes.
The CSSD must make concessions, but it cannot accept everything. David Ondracka from Transparency International is definitely an honest man, but one does not gain competence to manage the Interior Ministry, and so also the police, by criticising them, Zverina writes.

The Saturday negotiations between the CSSD and ANO ended surprisingly hopefully, Jan Keller writes in daily Pravo.
Both winners of the recent early general elections showed that they are capable of making concessions without losing their face. Not even different opinions of taxation or negotiations about the filling of ministries and the Chamber of Deputies leadership could block the road towards a government, Keller writes.
Hopefully, a government that could start tidying up what the previous left over could be formed, Keller writes.
Pointing to the allegedly dark past of Andrej Babis is one of the last opportunities of preventing the emergence of a government that could put an end to the murky practices of the recent period, Keller writes.
It would therefore be very instructive to follow who will be playing the card of Babis the agent the most frequently. President Milos Zeman does not need it. It is those who desperately lacked the red ace anti-communism in the game who have it up their sleeves, Keller writes.
CTK

StB file on ANO head Babis is falsified - StB officer in press
Prague/Bratislava, Nov 24 (CTK) - The file that the former Czechoslovak communist secret police StB had on Andrej Babis's collaboration in the 1980s was falsified by the officers who wrote it, former StB officer Andrej Kulha, who was responsible for the file then, told weekly Euro that will be out on Monday.

"I am 98 percent sure that Babis was not an agent," Kulha said in an interview whose parts the E15.cz news server released today.
Babis told CTK that he had not collaborated with the StB.
He said this old case was abused by the Civic Democrats (ODS) and TOP 09 in the campaign against the recent Czech general election.
Babis said some Slovak and Czech media were behind the affair, too.
Kulha said his former colleagues falsified Babis's file to make their work easier. He added that he clashed with them in the 1980s.
Babis is the leader of the ANO movement that scored a big success in the recent election and is negotiating about a future government with the Social Democrats (CSSD).
The rich businessman Babis would like to be deputy prime minister for the economy, however, President Milos Zeman demands that all ministers prove they had not been StB agents in the past by submitting a so-called lustration certificate.
The Slovak National Memory Institute (UPN) lists Babis among the StB agents. Babis says he is a victim because the StB kept a file on him without his knowledge. He seeks exoneration in court proceedings. A Slovak court is to decide on the case in January at the earliest.
Kulha, who lives in Bratislava, was a captain of the Czechoslovak economic counter-intelligence.
He told Euro he was prepared to repeat his opinion in court.
According to the StB file, Babis was the secret police's informer from 1980 and in 1982 he became an StB agent codenamed Bures. In the 1980s, Babis worked in the Petrimex foreign trade company. In 1985, the StB reportedly interrupted cooperation with him because he left for a long business trip to Morocco.
Slovak daily Sme wrote previously that Babis's codename can be found in reports in two other files.
Euro writes that the UPN did not comment on Kulha's claim that the file was falsified.
According to the StB file, it was Kulha who wrote a report on suspension of collaboration with agent Bures in 1987. Among others, the report says that the agent had a responsible attitude towards the secret collaboration.
The file includes a handwritten note from 1988 signed by Kulha and saying that the defects revealed by a check have been removed and that the secret collaborator Bures is expected to return from Morocco in 1989.
Babis told CTK that the UPN director acted very oddly after an early election was declared in the Czech Republic in summer.
The UPN director kept silent on Babis's complaint and was passive for 19 months before the election was declared, Babis said.
UPN director Ondrej Krajnak told CTK that he would not comment on the issue because the UPN vs Babis court proceedings was still underway.
Krajnak recently said the files on Babis were credible.
He said fabrications by StB officers were very improbable if data on a person appeared in three independent files, which is the case of Babis.
CTK

"Babisisation" of Czech Republic should be prevented - press
Prague, Nov 25 (CTK) - It is high time to look into ways of preventing "Babisisation" of the Czech Republic, that is the concentration of business, media and political power in the hands of one man, billionaire and ANO leader Andrej Babis, who may become finance minister, weekly Respekt out today writes.

Agro mogul Babis's ANO movement surprisingly ended second with 18.7 percent in the late-October early general election, closely trailing the winning Social Democrats (CSSD) with 20.5 percent, and it is to join a nascent coalition government with the CSSD and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
Respekt writes in its editorial that the capable and rich businessman Babis recently became influential and he has a chance of being the most powerful man in the country. It is remarkable that this fact has not drawn high attention, not to mention a debate, in the country, it adds.
The Czech Republic has never faced such a concentration of power in one man's hands. Babis, the second richest man in the country, runs a company with a turnover of billions of crowns, he leads the second strongest party in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, and he will probably enter the government.
Besides, closely ahead of the elections, he bought one of the biggest media publishers in the country, MAFRA, publishing three nationwide papers. Babis recently admitted that he would like to acquire Radio Impuls, the most popular radio station in the Czech Republic, and have a share in a private TV channel, Respekt recalls.
"If Babis materialised his plans, he would control not only foodstuffs but also information in the country," Respekt writes, adding that no other publishers could compete with such concentrated influence.
It writes that Babis took smart steps on the media scene. First he helped fund the Ceska pozice investigative web project, which is a high-quality source of information but has logically never investigated into Babis.
Then he succeeded in acquiring a journalist - Martin Komarek, who was writing critically of him in the past. Now Komarek is one ANO's main faces and he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for it.
Subsequently, Babis bought MAFRA and now he is testing the public space by indicating that he would like to own radio and TV as well. Since it has not aroused sharp protests, he might succeed again, Respekt writes.
Yet Babis's ownership of nationwide papers and other media is highly controversial.
"Any piece of news, any commentary about the government or opposition will be perceived with the suspicion of being somehow connected with the owner's power strategies. In other words, it will always be a conflict of interest. This is why politicians should not own daily papers, radio or television stations," Respekt points out.
In this connection, it reminds of Vladimir Zelezny who headed the private TV Nova and abused it for political goals, which stirred up strong emotions in the 1990s. However, compared to Babis, Zelezny was a mere "media bungler." He has never owned a political party and he was serving others in his TV for personal reasons, Respekt writes.
A media mogul owning a parliamentary party and (maybe) holding posts in the government is something completely different.
"We have ended up in a situation with which no one has apparently reckoned and which we cannot handle," Respekt says.
Babis, if his movement enters the government, will set taxes (for himself), he will decide on business rules, subsidies etc. Moreover, he may, via the government, indirectly influence the Anti-trust Office that could prevent him from purchasing other media, Respekt notes.
If Babis became finance minister, he would control the Financial Analytical Section and he may use it in the competition fight. He may also abuse his access to classified reports of the BIS counter-intelligence service, Respekt says.
It adds that this is not a pure theoretical consideration as Babis now likes to employ former policemen, who are an ideal source of information, in his firms.
"Babis is approaching the situation as if one and the same person were at the same time a police, a state attorney, a judge and a journalist writing of his own activities in the above mentioned posts. It is not hard to imagine what threats it produces," Respekt points out.
This is why it is high time to solve how to preserve the political-media system as much open as possible and prevent the "Babisisation" of the Czech Republic, Respekt concludes.
($1=20.166 crowns)
CTK

Czech finance minister to be expert, not party member - ANO
Prague, Nov 24 (CTK) - The ANO centrist movement will probably nominate an unaffiliated candidate for finance minister and its leader Andrej Babis would like to be deputy prime minister for the economy, he told Prima TV today.

Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman and potential prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said ANO would have the post of first deputy prime minister.
The CSSD, ANO and the smaller Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) will have their first trilateral talks on their nascent government on Monday, after the constituent session of the new Chamber of Deputies, produced by the early election held on October 25-26.
Sobotka said Babis as deputy PM should communicate primarily with the ministries dealing with the economy and coordinate the preparations of a new government economic policy.
He said the prime minister would control all the cabinet ministers.
Sobotka insisted that the leaders of all three coalition parties should be members of the cabinet.
KDU-CSL chairman Pavel Belobradek said previously he would prefer not to be a minister, but only a lower house deputy chairman.
On Friday, the CSSD accepted the demand that ANO be in charge of the Finance Ministry, in exchange for heading the lower house of parliament.
Babis said he would clearly want to be deputy PM for the economy rather than finance minister because it was similar to the way he controlled Agrofert Holding.
The billionaire Babis, 59, is the owner of the Agrofert Holding, a farming, food-processing and chemical giant with some 28,000 employees. He recently bought the leading Czech media group Mafra.
But Babis's participation in the government will also depend on President Milos Zeman who said all candidates for ministers must submit a negative lustration certificate, which Babis may not be able to produce because a court deals with his alleged collaboration with the former secret police StB in the 1980s and the verdict will be known only next year.

Babis said he may nominate not only ANO members but also unaffiliated experts. "If we don't have a quality candidate among us for a cabinet post, there is no reason why we should not find it among experts in the public," he said.
ANO is a newcomer to parliament and Babis founded it in 2011, while the CSSD is a well-established party whose leading politicians have been waiting for government posts since 2006. The Social Democrats have been in the opposition for seven years though it won the election in 2010. In 2006, the CSSD was only narrowly beaten by the right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS).
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Slovak parties to blame for extremist's election success - media
Bratislava, Nov 24 (CTK) - The election of Slovak far-right leader Marian Kotleba to the post of Banska Bystrica Region's governor is a defeat of the established Slovak political parties, Slovak media write in reaction to the result of the regional elections held on Saturday.

Daily Hospodarske noviny writes on its website that the Slovak democratic politicians are "burnt-out, discredited and incapable" and that the short-sightedness they showed in Kotleba's case is typical of their politics in general.
"They cannot work so as to leave more benefits for society than corruption cases and moral devastation behind them. They cannot think farther than to the next election," the website writes.
The fact that Kotleba won the governor's post in the runoff election is a shock because it was a big surprise even when he advanced to the second round, along with the outgoing governor Vladimir Manka (Smer-Social Democracy) who was defending his post and seemed to be the clear favourite of the second round.
Kotleba organised marches against Romanies and promoted the wartime Slovak state, which was a satellite of the Nazi Germany. The next regional election will be held in 2017.
Hospodarske noviny says Kotleba will remain unchanged even if he starts wearing a suit instead of a Nazi uniform and starts using less aggressive vocabulary.
"He knows the solution to all questions. Now he is preoccupied primarily with the Romany question, but he undoubtedly has a number of other questions," the paper writes.
The result of the election in central Slovakia is just the beginning and democratic politicians will die of "brown plague" (neo-Nazism) unless their instinct for self-preservation awakens, it adds.
The daily Pravda says the new political governor Kotleba is a representatives of political forces promoting racism, xenophobia and hate against democracy. The supporters of these forces give the Nazi salute and march with symbols of the wartime Slovak state, it adds.
Not only the right-wing parties that did not support Kotleba's rival Manka but also the ruling Smer of Prime Minister Robert Fico bear responsibility for the election result, Pravda writes.
Fico's party failed to motivate its voters to take part in the election in the Banska Bystrica Region, Pravda's website writes.
It recalls that Kotleba failed in the general election in 2012 as the election leader of the People's Party Our Slovakia. He will nevertheless try to enter parliament in the next election, Pravda writes.
It says Kotleba will do his utmost to get fascism to parliament - if not in 2016, then in 2020.
The website of daily Sme writes that Kotleba is changing political reality not only in the region in which he won.
Kotleba among the winners is a mirror also showing that fight against extremism is nothing but amorphous cliches in the mouths of Slovak politicians, Sme says.
CTK

 


 

 

 

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Sunday, November 24,2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 23 (CTK) - The negotiations about the forming of a next Czech government resembles another election campaign as the politicians permanently sent messages to one another through media, Jiri Pehe writes in daily Pravo today.

Moreover, the policians take steps that seem like efforts to win voters' support in a new election and deal with a dispute in their own party rather than serious attemps at negotiating about the government, Pehe writes.
He says an example of this are the ANO movement's declarations that it wants to ask its voters about their view of its post-election steps. However, one propably can expect this from a new populist movement without a real programme.
But the Social Democrat (CSSD) strong statement about church restitutions are an deterrent example, too, Pehe points out.
One can understand that CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka is trying to create evidence that he is doing his utmost after the election, so that he can use it against his opponents among the Social Democrats, Pehe says.
But Sobotka's resoluteness in relation to the churches seems more a an election campaign than a step taken towards a new government because the CSSD apparently is not strong enough to change the church restitution, Pehe writes.
It is absolutely clear that the churches will not give in and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) would not enter the government if any change would be pushed through, which would have to be done with support from the Communists (KSCM), Pehe concludes.

The outgoing interim government of Jiri Rusnok may have time to break the limits imposed on coal-mining in the Most area in the northwestern part of the country because there are no deadlines for President Milos Zeman to appoint a new government, Petr Novacek writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD).
Zeman is pragmatic and he loves power, Novacek says.
He says Zeman's "professional" relation to CSSD leader Sobotka who is negotiation about a possible next government means that does not support him and consequently will not accept all Sobotka's plans.
Zeman definitively will not help speed up the government-forming process, but rather hinder it, Novacek indicates.


CSSD influential politician Zdenek Skromach, who was recently forced to give up his post of the party's deputy head, highly appreciates that young socialist in Switzerland pushed through a national referendum on lowering salaries of top managers, Lukas Kovanda says in Lidove noviny (LN).
He recalls that Skromach proposed a similar vote in the Czech Republic earlier this year.
Swiss socialists would like the top managers to get salaries maximally twelve times higher than is that of the worst paid employee, while now the managers get even 238 times more, Kovanda writes.
But if the salaries are lowered, some multinational corporation will simply move out from Switzerland and only the second-rate managers will stay, he says.
In the long term, Switzerland will produce second-rate watches and second-rate chocolate, Kovanda writes.
CTK

Czech taxes unlikely to change in January , Prague, Nov 23 (CTK).Possible future Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) does not plan any "tax revolutions at the last moment," he told journalists after negotiations with the ANO centrist movement, CSSD's potential coalition partner, today.

"We don't want to repeat the mistakes of the previous governments, we don't want to make hasty tax changes, tax revolutions at the last moment or even permanent tax revolutions," Sobotka said, also criticising the tax policy of the centre-right government of Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) that ruled from mid-2010 to mid-2013.
The previous statements by CSSD and ANO representatives also indicated that no tax changes would take effect in January. The potential coalition parties said they did not have enough time to discuss the sensitive issue and that possible changes would bring chaos to the Czech economy.
The CSSD and ANO negotiators said today they also made great progress in the sphere of taxes, which has been one of the key points of controversy between the two parties.
"The number of points on which we have not reached agreement has considerably lowered," Sobotka said.
But they said no details would be released until they discuss these issues with the third coalition partner, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
ANO leader Andrej Babis said the taxes form the largest package among the spheres discussed by the CSSD and ANO.
Babis indicated that the CSSD and ANO negotiators were seeking compromises in this area.
Sobotka said trilateral talks on tax as well as other issues will be held next week, possibly already on Monday after the opening of the constituent meeting of the new Chamber of Deputies.
ANO would like to leave the taxes unchanged until 2016, but the CSSD has not accepted the proposal. The CSSD wants individuals' progressive taxation and higher corporate taxes, which ANO refuses. ANO proposes cutting the lower VAT rate from the present 15 percent to 10 percent. The KDU-CSL agrees with progressive taxes, but is against an increase in corporate taxes.
The income tax for individuals is 15 percent, while the corporate tax is 19 percent in the Czech Republic. In reaction to the economic crisis, Necas's government imposed a higher solidarity tax on people with high incomes.
The Social Democrats today submitted two documents to ANO, one dealing with proposed pro-growth measures and the other with planned measures against the grey economy and illegal employment.
In these documents, the CSSD proposes investment incentives for both Czech and foreign companies, improved drawing of EU subsidies, better communication between the government, trade unions and employers, support to house insulation projects and the construction of flats for the poor.
The CSSD also wants Czech food, especially vegetables, fruit and milk, to form 80 to 90 percent of the total offer, arguing that food production self-sufficiency will play a key in role for the country's security in the next years.
The Social Democrats want ANO to react to all these proposals and present its stances on them.
($1=20.166 crowns)
CTK

Czech parties not deeply based on tradition - press
Prague, Nov 23 (CTK) - Domestic media have been talking of a crisis of "traditional" parties, but the Czech parties that undergo a crisis have not been based on any real tradition, Vladimir Kucera says in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.

The ideas and opinions of the current Czech parties are not deeply anchored but shaky, Kucera says.
The Czech political groups that formed in the Austro-Hungarian Empire first sought national emancipation, he says.
In the interwar Czechoslovak state, the fragmented political scene faced disfavour of the strong President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the crushing economic crisis and problems with ethnic minorities, apart from the direct threat to the state's existence that finally led to its liquidation, Kucera writes.
After the end of World War Two only three years of very relative freedom followed before the 1948 communist coup completely suffocated any political life, he says.
At least some historical tradition can be found in the Social Democratic Party (now CSSD)that was nevertheless affected by principal twists. The first one resulted in being brutally devoured by the communists in 1948, irrespective of the party's statutes. The second one was the arrival of Milos Zeman who made the CSSD the strongest Czech left-wing party in the 1990s, but he turned it into a rather populist grouping, Kucera writes.
He says the CSSD became a platform for many of those who missed to rise to power aboard the aggressive train of the right-wing Civic Democratic Party (ODS) in the early 1990s and sought a way to fulfill their political or financial ambition.
The too shameless pragmatic alliance of the CSSD and the ODS in form of the Opposition Agreement power-sharing pact at the turn of the millennium helped those in power get an easier access to finances rather than the country achieve political stability, Kucera writes.
This has completed the process of the gradual disappearance of strong ideas, he adds.
He says it is pointless to speak of a tradition in relation to the Czech Communists (now KSCM) as they were not an independent left-wing party from 1929 but the executor of destructive orders from the Soviet Union, its fifth column, Kucera writes.
Logically, when Moscow made the Communists its governor in Czechoslovakia, the party degenerated politically. It would take a long time for the KSCM to get rid of these "bad habits" even if it wanted it and was capable of it, Kucera says.
It is noteworthy that the Czech left wing wins only little support among young people, intellectuals and artists, unlike in Western countries. This seems to be due to the Czech leftist resignation on various issues that are crucial for the above groups, such as human rights, Kucera says.
The Czech leftist parties seem to be attracted by countries that tend to show disrespect for human rights, as if there was a nostalgia for the bloc "of peace and socialism." Not surprisingly, the Czech left is attractive for old and ageing xenophobes, isolationists, semi-racists and callers for the reintroduction of the capital punishment, Kucera writes.
Moreover, the flamboyant boorishness that the current President Zeman introduced is no good for the left, he adds.
And what about the right-wing parties? Kucera asks.
The statement on the Velvet Revolution, by historian Jiri Suk, that "the revolution of ethos very soon turned into the revolution of interests" can be aptly applied to the Civic Democratic Party, Kucera writes.
It is unclear whether ODS founder and long-standing leader Vaclav Klaus deliberately planned this from the start or whether he got used to it only when he took power, Kucera writes.
The ODS declared respectable and highly respected principles, but it was a nest of creatures who did not feel the need to respect any principles. After forming a network sucking away public finances under the supervision of "godfathers" together with their leftist colleagues, they moved further away from these principles, Kucera says about the Opposition Agreement.
He says the conservative TOP 09, its acronym standing for Tradition-Responsibility-Prosperity, can hardly be considered a traditional party. It is a party founded in 2009 by political matadors who will not learn a new political style, he adds.
The Christian Democrats (now KDU-CSL) are a traditional party, but their movements on the political pendulum are too unpredictable, being based on what political alliance appears to be more advantageous at the moment, Kucera indicates.
He says new unpredictable groupings without a comprehensible programme succeeded in the Czech Republic also because of the inexperience of both the voters and election candidates.
It seems as if Czechs were incapable of governing and electing their representatives, Kucera points out.
The recent election debacle of the Zemanites (SPOZ) and the Chin Up! bloc, promoted by Zeman and Klaus, respectively, is just an exception, Kucera writes.
But what can be expected from a community that lived in relative freedom only for a few years and of a nation that got rid or was deprived of all other ethnic groups living together with it? he asks.
Furthermore, large numbers of people fled their homeland in the past decades, usually the more skilled, more courageous and more active. And communication between those staying at home and those who left abroad was very limited, Kucera writes.
It is therefore no wonder that the Czechs permanently seek a saviour. As the situation in society does not improve using traditional paths, they hope a new recipe will be the solution. As they believe in their own wisdom, they want to give a lot of power to the person they choose as the saviour, hoping that this time he would definitely be a real one, Kucera writes.
Unfortunately, this can only lead to further great disappointment, he says.
CTK

ANO wants Czech church restitution's inflation clause changed
Pruhonice, Central Bohemia, Nov 23 (CTK) - The ANO movement, which is negotiating with the Social Democrats (CSSD) about a nascent government, wants a change of the inflation clause of the property settlement between the Czech state and churches, its leader Andrej Babis said today.

Babis said two representatives of ANO, a politician and a lawyer, will join the talks that the CSSD holds with the church representatives about the church restitution.
CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka repeatedly said his party strives for decreasing the financial compensation to be paid to churches for the property that was confiscated from them under the communist regime but can no longer be returned to them, the exemption of the Prague Castle complex from the restitution and a restriction of the purposes on which the money to be paid out to churches should be spent.
Church representatives dismissed any change to the restitution law and the related contracts.
Under the law on state-church property settlement, which was pushed through by the then right-wing cabinet and took effect in January, the churches are to get back over the next 30 years some real estate confiscated from them by the Czechoslovak communist regime in 1948-1989, worth 75 billion crowns, plus 59 billion in compensation for unreturned property that is to be raised by inflation. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
The last and smallest partner in the potential coalition, the Christian Democrats, oppose any changes in the church restitution. They do not want to took part in any negotiations with the church representatives and let the CSSD negotiate about its demands with the churches.
($1=20.166 crowns)
CTK

Karel Gott wins Czech pop music contest once again
Prague, Nov 23 (CTK) - Karel Gott won the annual Czech Golden Nightingale pop music contest, narrowly beating Tomas Klus, the awarding ceremony revealed tonight.

Gott, aged 74, gained the prize for the most popular Czech male pop singer for the 38th time. He won it for the first time in 1963. Until now, 48 Golden Nightingale contests have been organised, which means that he has won the vast majority of them.
The 27-year-old Klus surprisingly won the contest in 2012.
Gott won 33,044 votes and Klus 32,997 votes this year. The third position went to Richard Krajco.
Gott was absent from the ceremony in Prague's State Opera today, however, as he is on a concert tour abroad. He was signing in Stuttgart tonight.
Lucie Bila and Krajco's band Krystof defended their titles of the most popular female singer and the best band, respectively.
Bila was followed by Lucie Vondrackova and Aneta Langerova, Krystof by Kabat and Chinaski.
Bila won the female pop singer category for the 16th time, being the most successful among women. Hana Zagorova won nine times in this category.
The Czech Nightingale prizes are won by singers and bands who get the highest number of votes from the public. This year, some 120,000 people took part in the voting, compared to approximately 130,000 in 2012.
CTK

 

 

 

 

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Saturday,November 23,2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 23 (CTK) - The negotiations about the forming of a next Czech government resembles another election campaign as the politicians permanently sent messages to one another through media, Jiri Pehe writes in daily Pravo today.

Moreover, the policians take steps that seem like efforts to win voters' support in a new election and deal with a dispute in their own party rather than serious attemps at negotiating about the government, Pehe writes.
He says an example of this are the ANO movement's declarations that it wants to ask its voters about their view of its post-election steps. However, one propably can expect this from a new populist movement without a real programme.
But the Social Democrat (CSSD) strong statement about church restitutions are an deterrent example, too, Pehe points out.
One can understand that CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka is trying to create evidence that he is doing his utmost after the election, so that he can use it against his opponents among the Social Democrats, Pehe says.
But Sobotka's resoluteness in relation to the churches seems more a an election campaign than a step taken towards a new government because the CSSD apparently is not strong enough to change the church restitution, Pehe writes.
It is absolutely clear that the churches will not give in and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) would not enter the government if any change would be pushed through, which would have to be done with support from the Communists (KSCM), Pehe concludes.

The outgoing interim government of Jiri Rusnok may have time to break the limits imposed on coal-mining in the Most area in the northwestern part of the country because there are no deadlines for President Milos Zeman to appoint a new government, Petr Novacek writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD).
Zeman is pragmatic and he loves power, Novacek says.
He says Zeman's "professional" relation to CSSD leader Sobotka who is negotiation about a possible next government means that does not support him and consequently will not accept all Sobotka's plans.
Zeman definitively will not help speed up the government-forming process, but rather hinder it, Novacek indicates.


CSSD influential politician Zdenek Skromach, who was recently forced to give up his post of the party's deputy head, highly appreciates that young socialist in Switzerland pushed through a national referendum on lowering salaries of top managers, Lukas Kovanda says in Lidove noviny (LN).
He recalls that Skromach proposed a similar vote in the Czech Republic earlier this year.
Swiss socialists would like the top managers to get salaries maximally twelve times higher than is that of the worst paid employee, while now the managers get even 238 times more, Kovanda writes.
But if the salaries are lowered, some multinational corporation will simply move out from Switzerland and only the second-rate managers will stay, he says.
In the long term, Switzerland will produce second-rate watches and second-rate chocolate, Kovanda writes.
CTK

Zeman to appoint Suchanek Czech constitutional judge in Lany
Prague, Nov 22 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman will on Tuesday appoint Radovan Suchanek new constitutional judge in the presidential country seat in Lany, central Bohemia, where he has been recovering from a knee injury, the Presidential Office told CTK today.

Suchanek, 40, whom the Senate, upper house of parliament, approved in October, will be the youngest judge of the Constitutional Court (US).
Zeman will appear before media for the first time since he suffered the injury at the end of October. He has been working throughout the period of convalescence, but he cancelled all domestic as well as foreign trips.
Suchanek, a legal adviser to the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD), said previously he will give up his party membership.
Suchanek said he will not participate in decision-making on the cases in which he could be accused of bias. He also said membership of a political party is a constitutional right and no one may be discriminated against over it.
Suchanek will replace Dagmar Lastovecka whose mandate expired at the end of August.
Another two constitutional judges' mandates will expire by the year's end. Zeman proposed two candidates to the Senate last week.
They are current US judge Jan Musil and European law expert Jiri Zemanek. The Senate is to discuss their nominations by January 10, 2014.
CTK

Czech CSSD to decide on way of approving next govt in mid-Dec
Prague, Nov 22 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrats' (CSSD) Central Executive Committee will decide in mid-December on the way of approving the conditions of possible cooperation with the ANO movement and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) in the next government, CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka told CTK today.

He will propose an internal referendum to be held in mid-January, he said after a meeting of the CSSD's presidium.
Sobotka ruled out that the new coalition cabinet would have been formed by the time of the referendum.
The CSSD regional organisations have not commented on Sobotka's proposal very much. Some of them have not yet received his letter calling on them to express their opinion, according to CTK sources.
"If a referendum were held, it would probably take place on January 11-12," Sobotka said.
Another option is that the central executive committee would be approving the coalition agreement.
Sobotka said he would like President Milos Zeman to receive the proposal for the appointment of a new government by the end of the year.
If the CSSD's internal referendum rejected the coalition agreement, Zeman would not appoint Sobotka's government and talks on another cabinet would have to be launched.
One of the supporters of a referendum is Milan Chovanec, governor of the Plzen Region and head of the CSSD regional branch.
On the other hand, CSSD South Bohemia regional branch head Jiri Zimola would not agree with a referendum and he called Sobotka's proposal "buck-passing."
"I am by no means an opponent of a referendum but at the moment I suppose that the party chairman must assume the crucial responsibility and with his team negotiate the best possible conditions for the Social Democrats," Zimola said.
Zeman assigned Sobotka to lead the talks on the formation of a new government on Thursday.
The CSSD, ANO and the KDU-CSL are to negotiate at trilateral meetings as from next week.
The CSSD won the end-October early general election with 20.5 percent of the vote. ANO trailed it by a mere 2 percent. The KDU-CSL with 6.8 percent returned to the Chamber of Deputies after a three-year pause.
The three parties command a 111-vote majority in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
CTK

Czech government not to adjourn Civil Code's effect
Prague, Nov 22 (CTK) - Czech outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok dismissed the proposal by the Dawn of Direct Democracy of Tomio Okamura to adjourn the effect of the new Civil Code until 2015, Okamura told journalists after his meeting with Rusnok and outgoing Justice Minister Marie Benesova today.

Okamura said he was told that the government will not deal with the adjournment of the code that is to take effect on January 1, 2014.
"We agreed that the Civil Code is not optimal, but the Prime Minister said the government will not seek its adjournment. We cannot but respect this decision," Okamura said.
The new Civil Code replaces the old one from the communist period. It is criticised by both experts and the public. They say it is difficult to understand and that its language is obsolete.
Okamura wanted the code's effect to be adjourned by one year during which it would be adjusted.
Both Rusnok and Benesova say, however, this is no longer possible.
"The approving and implementation of the Civil Code are already beyond the point of turn. If the Civil Code were adjourned, the damage would be much bigger. Citizens, firms and the whole judiciary would feel uncertainty," government spokeswoman Jana Jaburkova said.
CTK

Czech spectacular raids show police's moral fanaticism - press
Prague, Nov 22 (CTK) - The June police arrest of intelligence chiefs and the then prime minister's mistress and the recent raid against shops selling equipment for hemp growing seem very similar in punishing practices that were not considered criminal until then and in being an outburst of moral fanaticism, Petr Kambersky says in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

He says both raids were spectacular, had a very wobble legal basis, gathered material rather than real evidence, and diverted attention from real crimes.
In both cases it is probable that the suspects will not be convicted, but the damage has already been caused: the seizure of property, arrest, custody and harmed reputations, Kambersky writes.
The police chiefs push through their vision of a healthy society using a clenched fist, he adds.
The police have never explained why they had to arrest the heads of the military intelligence and Jana Nagyova, head of the office of then prime minister Petr Necas, his then mistress and present wife, after midnight, Kambersky writes.
The raid against Czech grow shop owners seems odd as well. Those who grow hemp for their own need usually commit no other crimes, apart from risks related to marihuana smoking, unlike large-scale growing facilities that sell marihuana to clients, Kambersky says.
The police seized flower pots and hemp seeds, although the sale of neither is illegal, he notes.
In early November, the police raided several dozen grow shops on the basis of a law article about illicit distribution of drugs.
In June, the police arrested Nagyova, two military intelligence chiefs and one agent, and three former lawmakers for the Civic Democrats (ODS) over alleged political corruption and suspected illegal spying on Necas's former wife ordered by Nagyova. The scandal led to the fall of Necas's government and eventually to the early election held in October.
Kambersky writes that both cases were organised from the same centre.
He names Jiri Komorous, Robert Slachta and Jakub Frydrych as the key figures for the organising of the raids.
He recalls that Komorous, who had tried to join the communist intelligence in the past, was director of the National Anti-Drug Centre for 15 years and had two deputies, Slachta and Frydrych. Slachta is now the chief of the police unit fighting organised crime (UOOZ), Frydrych took Komorous's post of National Anti-Drug Centre head.
Slachta organised the intervention against former ODS lawmakers Marek Snajdr, Petr Tluchor and Ivan Fuksa, while Frydrych organised the raid on grow shops.
The moral fanaticism of these police chiefs has a long tradition and it seeks to achieve absolute harmony between the actions of individuals and unrealistically high moral standards, Kambersky writes.
He says Komorous founded a modern purification order with rock singer and former skinhead Daniel Landa called Ordo Lumen Templi. Colonel Slachta phone's ringing tone is the old song "Kdoz su bozi bojovnici" used by the Hussites, a 15th century Czech revolutionary religious and social movement. Frydrych is fighting the evil by trying to eradicate hemp, Kambersky writes.
The aim of their police actions is not to convict but to prosecute, he says.
CTK

 

 

 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture  Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.


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Friday, November 22,2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 22 (CTK) - Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka's argument that churches should reduce the financial compensation they are to get for unreturned property because they should live in poverty amounts to blackmail, Jana Blazkova writes in daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.

Such "good advice" nourishes the lowest instincts in people by indicating that churches should be condemned as greedy and should be hated by the society if they refuse to give up a part of the compensation sum, Blazkova writes.
After all, Sobotka's argument could be applied to his CSSD as well. Social democrats, too, should live in poverty as a party promoting a socially sensitive policy. Why do not they give their property to those in need? Blazkova writes.
Ahead of the October elections, Sobotka said the CSSD would take them as a referendum on the ongoing church restitution. In this connection, the CSSD's election gain of 20.5 percent looks rather unconvincingly. Not even together with the Communists' (KSCM) 15 percent can the CSSD's gain be called a majority support, Blazkova writes.
The CSSD should stop lying to itself and it should admit that it has lost its crusade against the church restitution law, which is simply valid and the churches have the right to reinforce it uncompromisingly, Blazkova says.
The Social Democrats (CSSD) want to use threats to force churches to reduce the compensation sum granted to them within the restitution, but their expectations of the desired effect are wrong, Martin Zverina writes in Lidove noviny (LN).
CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka has even threatened that his nascent government may amend the church restitution law even without the consent of churches.
CSSD deputy chairwoman Alena Gajduskova, for her part, stated in a populist and demagogic way that the restitution payments to churches would strip the state of money it needs for pensions, science and research. The churches are unlikely to take an accommodating approach in reaction to similar statements, Zverina writes.
Unlike Sobotka, the churches face no pressure of party rivals, impatient coalition partners or the president waiting for Sobotka's failure. Furthermore, the CSSD's slightest possible move close to breaching the law would meet with a resolute resistance of the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), one of the two probable junior coalition partners, Zverina says.
The confrontation with the churches, established centuries and millenniums ago, cannot result in a victory of the CSSD and its allies in the battle, the ANO movement and the Communists (KSCM), Zverina writes.
The Social Democrats (CSSD) are taking excessive efforts to make churches return a part of the compensation sum the state has granted to them, but the question is how this could help the state finances and economy, Petr Fischer writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN).
The property settlement between the state and churches is planned to take place gradually over the next 30 years just in order to be bearable for the state budget. Churches would definitely do their best to benefit from the regained property and they will launch investments. Why should they be a worse investor than the state? Fischer asks.
The Czech economy needs a pro-growth impulse immediately. That is why the nascent government coalition should first agree on the economic strategy for it to jointly pursue in the present difficult period, and only then its member parties should start battling for who will fulfil more of his pre-election vows and slogans [such as a revision of the church restitution], Fischer writes.

CTK

CSSD, ANO clash over post of Czech finance minister - press
Prague, Nov 22 (CTK) - Potential Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) wants also the posts of finance and interior minister for his party, but ANO leader Andrej Babis has rejected his demand, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today about the talks on their possible future government.

President Milos Zeman officially entrusted Sobotka with forming a government on Thursday. The CSSD has been negotiating with the centrist ANO movement of billionaire Babis and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) about a coalition government for approximately two weeks.
"It is reasonable for a functional government that the prime minister, the finance minister and the interior minister be from the same party," Sobotka told MfD.
Babis sharply rejected such a possibility. "If the CSSD wants the Finance Ministry, it can rule with somebody else," he said.
The KDU-CSL took a reserved stance on the issue. "We acknowledge the wish of the CSSD," its deputy chairman Marian Jurecka said.
Sobotka said the Social Democrats do not insist on the alliance with ANO and the KDU-CSL at any cost.
He admitted that his failure to form a coalition government would probably mean that he would end as CSSD leader and that a new general election would have to be eventually called.
If Sobotka failed to form a government, President Zeman would choose another person to try to complete the task. The country is now ruled by the outgoing interim government of Jiri Rusnok (unaffiliated).
Zeman seems to have far better relations to CSSD regional governor Michal Hasek than to Sobotka and he indicated before the election that he would like Hasek to be the next prime minister.
Hasek tried to oust Sobotka as party leader shortly after the late October election, but his attempt failed and he was forced to give up the post of CSSD first deputy chairman.
The CSSD has 50, ANO 47 and the KDU-CSL 14 members in the 200-seat lower house of Czech parliament. The three parties are now discussing their priorities in order to agree on a joint government policy statement. Personnel issues have not been on the official agenda so far.
Babis nevertheless showed special interest in the post of finance minister, although he said he himself need not be a member of the cabinet.
Zeman said previously he wants all candidates for ministers to produce a negative lustration certificate, proving that they had not collaborated with the StB former secret police and had not been senior officials of the communist regime.
Babis allegedly collaborated with the StB in the 1980s and a court is dealing with his complaint against his listing in the StB files. Babis thus cannot produce the lustration certificate until the court decides on his case, which will be early next year at the earliest.
However, Sobotka told MfD that he would like the leaders of the two other coalition parties to join the government.
KDU-CSL leader Pavel Belobradek told the paper he understood that the CSSD would prefer his participation in the cabinet rather than demand it.
But Sobotka said it would "undoubtedly" be a condition of his party that the leaders of both coalition partners be in the government.
"Party chairmen should not avoid responsibility and hide themselves in the lower house," Sobotka told MfD.
He said communication would be much better if all the three party leaders were cabinet members.
Belobradek does not seem to want to be a minister.
He said he wants to be lower house deputy chairman and that he would join the cabinet if it is unavoidable.
MfD noted that Ivan Pilip (unaffiliated), who was finance minister for the Civic Democrats (ODS) in the 1990s, negotiated on behalf of the KDU-CSL with the CSSD about the tax policy. Belobradek told MfD's website iDnes that the KDU-CSL has not talked with Pilip about any other cooperation than expert help in the negotiations.
The post of finance minister presumably will not be the only one in the cabinet over which the three parties will be fighting.
CTK

Prague, Nov 22 (CTK) - The Czech Defence Ministry plans to replace the outdated Russian Yak-40 transport planes with a new Airbus A-319 and buy another two medium-sized transport planes after 2020, it ensues from the new air force concept that the government is to discuss on Wednesday.

At the same time, the military wants to discard the Soviet-made combat helicopters and the Polish Sokol (Falcon) helicopters and replace them with multipurpose ones.
The ministry's document that CTK has at its disposal also criticises the state of the Czech air force, particularly the critical conditions of air-force bases caused by austerity measures.
The military operates two state-of-the-art A-319 Airbuses that are more comfortable than the older types. Apart from the transport of soldiers to foreign missions, they are to be used for state representatives' foreign trips.
The military intends to purchase a new basic-version Airbus for 110-120 passengers. It may be used mainly for the rotation of soldiers serving abroad, the transport of injured persons and humanitarian purposes.
In addition, it would be a reserve plane for politicians' official trips.
The Defence Ministry also intends to purchase three new helicopters for constitutional officials' short-distance trips.
The military concept reckons with the preservation of a Russian Mi-8 helicopter in a VIP modification, which is used by the president and ministers.
Even a new luxurious helicopter for supreme politicians should be bought in the future.
However, the biggest challenge will by the gradual discarding of the legendary Mi-24 and 35 helicopters, dubbed "the devil's carriage" by Islamists during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.
The military plans to replace them with multipurpose helicopters. They would be deployed not only in combat operations but also for the air emergency service (SAR) whose pilots now fly in the Polish Sokols. However, the military is now operating only five out of the original ten over savings.
The military, along with other state sectors, has been affected by austerity measures taken in reaction to the economic crisis.
Due to the lack of finances for complete overhauls, part of the air equipment is not operable and thus the air force's capability is limited.
Moreover, low financial means do not motivate the pilots and other stuff to stay in the military. This is why the military air force is short of qualified personnel.
The lack of money has also affected the technical state of military airports.
The runways for landing and taking off at the air base in Prague-Kbely have been renovated but other areas at the base are in a bad or even critical condition.
In the past few years, the Czech Republic and NATO jointly invested some four billion crowns in the upgrading of the base in Namest nad Oslavou, south Moravia. However, the renovation has not been completed due to limited finances.
In addition, the state invested 200 million crowns in the upgrading of the helicopter base in Prerov, north Moravia, that the military abandoned this year.
The Defence Ministry has a budget of 42 billion crowns for this year, though military experts say it should be at least 50 billion. The draft 2014 budget reckons with an additional 700 million crowns for the military.
($1=20.189 crowns)
CTK

New Czech lower house little older than former, with fewer women .Prague, Nov 22 (CTK) - The Czech Chamber of Deputies that arose from the October 25-26 elections and will hold its constituent meeting on November 25, is slightly "older" than its predecessor, the deputies' average age being even the highest since 1993, and there are fewer women in it.

The 200-seat Chamber, the lower house of parliament, includes 39 women, which is five fewer than in the previous election term.
Like after the 2010 elections, the highest share of women is in the Communist (KSCM) group of deputies, eleven out of 33 members.
On the contrary, there is no woman among the 14 deputies for the Christian Democratic Union (KDU-CSL), which re-entered parliament after a three-year pause.
Though lower than in 2010-2013, the present number of female deputies still exceeds the average, since there were only 31 and 34 women among the deputies elected in 2006 and 2002, respectively.
The deputies' average age is 48.95, which is 2.5 years more compared with the previous lower house.
The oldest and the youngest of the deputies are the same as before, Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09), 75, and Adam Rykala (Social Democrats, CSSD), 27.
In 2010, a total of 86 deputies were aged over 50, while now their number increased to 106.
At the same time, the number of deputies in their twenties has dropped to four in the present lower house from 12 in the previous.
Of parties' groups of deputies, the KDU-CSL group has the lowest average age, 44, while the groups of the two parliament newcomers, Dawn of Direct Democracy and the ANO movement, have the highest average.
More than four fifths of the new lawmakers use an academic title, a number similar to the past. Traditionally, there is the highest numbers of engineers (Ing) among the deputies - 67, compared with 62 in 2010-13 and as many as 82 in 2006-10.
Like previously, the second most frequent academic title is that of master (Mgr), and there is also a relatively high number of physicians (MUDr), 21, and doctors of law (JUDr), 13, among the deputies.
The deputies include a number of active university teachers, including eight professors and five senior lecturers.

Review of deputies in terms of age and sex since 1992:
year 1992 1996 1998 2002 2006 2010 2013
average age 43.17 43.84 45.20 46.87 47.90 47.21 49.95
women (in percent) 21 (10.5) 30 (15) 30 (15) 34 (17) 31 (15.5) 44 (22) 39 (19.5)
aged under 29 17 18 10 5 7 12 4
aged over 50 49 63 71 81 88 86 106
youngest deputy Stanislav Gross (CSSD; 22) Tomas Teplik (CSSD; 22) Tomas Teplik (ODS; 24) Katerina Konecna (KSCM; 21) Katerina Konecna (KSCM; 25) Adam Rykala (CSSD; 23) Adam Rykala (CSSD; 27)
oldest deputy Robert Dostal (CSSD; 63) Zdenek Jicinsky (CSSD; 67) Augustin Bubnik (ODS; 69) Jaroslav Gongol (KSCM; 65) Zdenek Jicinsky (CSSD; 77) Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09; 72) Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09; 75)

CTK

SLOVAKIA

Slovak PM Fico debates cooperation, world scene, NSA with Obama
Washington/Bratislava, Nov 22 (CTK) - Slovak PM Robert Fico met U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden on Thursday to debate bilateral cooperation and the liquidation of Syrian chemical weapons and the wiretapping scandal of U.S. intelligence services, Slovak cabinet's spokeswoman said.

After the one-hour meeting in the White House, Fico (Smer-Social Democracy) said the talks met all his expectations, Slovak server tvnoviny.sk has written.
"We continue bilateral cooperation, we are strategic partners. We are interested in advantageous relations with the United States and the working meeting confirmed these relations and their quality," Fico said.
He said he could see space [for cooperation] mainly in the area of investments.
Along with Fico, Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak and Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak were received in the White House.
The Slovak leaders also discussed foreign political issues at the meeting. According to media, they debated the situation in Afghanistan and the question of Syria's chemical weapons with Biden.
The debate also touched on the scandal around the monitoring of mail and telephone communication by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) in foreign countries all over the world.
"We proposed that the scandal's consequences be eliminated, that a summit on the U.S.-EU level meet as soon as possible and a model of solving the mutual wiretapping question be found," Fico is quoted as saying.
Fico, 49, who was prime minister in 2006-2010 already, heads the Slovak one-party cabinet of Smer-SD, elected in March 2012. He is widely expected to run for Slovak president next spring, the media said.
CTK

 




 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture  Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.


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Thursday, November 21,2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 21 (CTK) - The badly needed service law should be introduced and fully take effect only after the structure of the poorly functioning state administration is changed, Antonin Rasek writes in daily Pravo today.

To stabilise the state administration's present personnel structure would be to freeze the unfortunate situation and give up any remedial action, Rasek says.
The rather incompetent senior clerks who often won their posts only thanks to their political links should be replaced by qualified experts whose task would be to create well-functioning structures of subordinate offices and give them free hand in personnel affairs, Rasek writes.
He says employees should get half of their salaries for operative activities and the other half for implementing projects with strategical impact. This would avoid failures such as was the botched sCard electronic card project, Rasek adds.

Alexandr Mitrofanov says elsewhere in Pravo that Stalin's foreign affairs minister Molotov was known as Mister No, but in the Czech Republic it is the church representatives who are the misters of No.
The Social Democrats (CSSD) who won the recent election want the churches to receive a lower financial compensation than agreed on within the state-church property settlement. The churches said they don't want to discuss the issue once the church restitution law was passed and the Constitutional Court rejected the complaint against it, Mitrofanov recalls.
He says the churches were too benevolent even before when they gave up land in the national parks and on sport fields.
On Wednesday, Petr Gazdik (TOP 09) and Martin Kuba (Civic Democrats, ODS) made fun of the CSSD for making promises to its voters which it cannot meet after the election, Mitrofanov notes.
CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka is in an awkward situation. All the trumph cards are in the hands of the churches. Sobotka will have a meeting with Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka today. The fact that Sobotka is a Roman Catholic certainly will not make it easier for him, Mitrofanov writes.


CSSD leader Sobotka decided to organise a referendum of his party on the final text of the coalition agreement of the possible next government probably because the government-forming talks seem to proceed too smoothly, Jindrich Sidlo writes with irony in Hospodarske noviny (HN).
Sidlo says Sobotka believes that his party colleagues will approve the government coalition with the ANO movement and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and that this will weaken his opponents in the CSSD led by Michal Hasek who was recently forced to step down as the party's first deputy chairman after his wing failed to oust Sobotka as chairman.
But what if the Social Democrat members say no to the coalition? Sidlo asks.
He recalls the situation in 2002 when the CSSD wanted to prevent its former prime minister Milos Zeman, the current president, from running for the head of state by holding a party referendum, but Zeman won the referendum and the CSSD has not recover from it yet.
CTK

Czech ANO deputy resigns over his dubious Communist past
Jihlava, South Moravia, Nov 20 (CTK) - Miloslav Baciak has resigned from his mandate of a deputy elected for the Czech ANO 2011 movement over his dubious past as a Communist political officer, ANO deputy chairwoman Vera Jourova has announced.

Baciak stepped down from the ANO 2011's list of candidates a couple of hours ahead of the October 25-26 early general election when it was not possible to delete him from the list. He was running as number two in the Vysocina Region and was elected to the Chamber of Deputies.
The ANO leadership says it learnt about Baciak's past only from the press.
It surfaced in the media before the polls that Baciak had been a Communist Party's "politruk," that is an army officer responsible for political education, in the 1970s and he was granted a title from the Communist ideological school
Besides, former pilot Baciak was registered in the list of the Security Forces' Archive as a collaborator of the Communist military counter-intelligence service and he was a deputy commander for political affairs, the media reported.
However, he withheld these facts in his CV submitted to ANO. He said he had not considered them important.
Jourova said Baciak had officially resigned on Tuesday and his resignation had been sent to the Chamber of Deputies's office.
Consequently, Baciak should not take the deputy's oath. He will be replaced by businessman Jan Sobotka, number three on the candidates' list, Jourova added.
She also said Baciak had been admitted to ANO on the basis of a recommendation by a then member who left the movement later.
The required references by at least two ANO members for the admission of a new member should prevent such cases from repeating in the future, Jourova noted.
Billionaire Babis's ANO surprisingly ended second in the election, closely trailing the winning Social Democrats (CSSD), and it is to join a nascent coalition government with the CSSD and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
CTK

Czech CSSD agree with unions on pro-growth policy
Prague, Nov 20 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) have agreed with the trade unions that the next cabinet must pursue pro-growth economic and active employment policies and take concrete measures to improve tax collecting, CSSD head Bohuslav Sobotka said after a meeting with the unions today.

Sobotka, who leads the talks on the formation of a new government on behalf of the CSSD, attended the press conference along with the CMKOS umbrella trade union organisation's former head Jaroslav Zavadil, who was elected an MP for the CSSD, and Association of Independent Trade Unions (ASO) chairman Bohumir Dufek.
The trade unions, for instance, demand that the monthly minimal wage, which is currently 8500 crowns, increase by at least 500 crowns a year, said Sobotka who also met representatives of the employers today.
The unions and Sobotka also agreed on the abolition of the second pension pillar enabling savings in pension funds. The CSSD has long been pushing for scrapping this pension scheme.
Besides, they are jointly against the cuts in civil servants' salaries and they support a gradual rise in the minimal wage in the years to come.
Dufek said the minimal wage should increase by 500 crowns a year at least as firms would hardly bear a higher rise.
Dufek also said he considered the situation in the health care sector oppressive. The number of health insurance companies should be reduced to two or three, he added.
Besides, he called for the postponement of the new Civil Code's effect by one year at least and the introduction of a minimal monthly tax of 1000 crowns for the self-employed.
These measures would annually bring up to 15 billion crowns to the state budget, Dufek pointed out.
($1=20.256 crowns)
CTK

Czech Social, Christian Democrats agree on tax progression
Prague, Nov 20 (CTK) - The negotiators for the Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) agree on the need to introduce a progressive tax for individuals, Social Democrat shadow finance minister Jan Mladek and KDU-CSL deputy chairman Marian Jurecka said today.

However, the idea is rejected by agro tycoon Andrej Babis's ANO (YES), the third coalition partner in the government that is being created.
On the other hand, the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats differ on the increase in corporate taxes, proposed by the former, and a tax bonus for children, proposed by the latter, Mladek and Jurecka said after the two parties' expert teams met today.
Mladek said there was the agreement that tax progression was no "devil's work."
"If we make a two-member coalition, we will agree quite simply," Mladek said.
Jurecka said the Christian Democrats proposed three tax brackets, while the number is of minor importance for the Social Democrats.
Progressive taxation is a condition for the Christian Democrats' proposal for the joint taxation of married couples, Jurecka said.
"The Social Democrats have not vetoed it and they have not ruled out the institute of married couples' joint taxation," Jurecka said.
He said the debate on corporate taxes was not closed, but their increase poses a major problem for Christian Democrats.
The CSSD, ANO and KDU-CSL have so far agreed that no changes in taxes will be next year.
Mladek said no agreement had been arrived at for 2015.
The CSSD won the late October general election with 20.5 percent of the vote, ANO ended second with 18.7 percent, and the Christian Democrats obtained 6.8 percent.
The three parties command a majority of 111 votes in the 200-seat lower house.
CTK

Czech government approves new permit for foreigners
Prague, Nov 20 (CTK) - The Czech outgoing government has agreed with the bill proposing a new kind of permit for the foreigners with a long-term stay and work in the Czech Republic, Interior Minister Martin Pecina told journalists after a government meeting today.

The employment card is to facilitate the foreigners' gaining the work and residence permits and it is also to improve the civil servants' work, Pecina said.
The government will ask the Chamber of Deputies to pass the bill in the first reading, in an accelerated procedure, Pecina said.
If the bill is passed, the foreigners will not have to ask separately for the work permit and the residence permit, but will only submit a single application.
The office also wants to scrap the green cards now serving as residence permits for the purpose of employment.
The amendment to the law on foreigners' stay reacts to the EU regulation that must be implemented by the Czech Republic by December 25.
The European Commission started proceedings over breach of duties against the Czech Republic in January.
"The inactivity would mean the failure to fulfil the duty of implementing the directive into the Czech legal order and there would be the threat of the continued proceedings against the Czech Republic for the breach of duties under Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)," the report on the bill says.
In the future, it may be possible to gain the employee's card for any period exceeding three months.
The validity of the green card serving for the employement of highly skilled foreigners in the Czech Republic is to be conserved.
CTK
 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture  Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.


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This news digest is selected and edited by the Czech Events Network


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 20 (CTK) - The murder of Roman Houska, an influential member of the Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) in northern Bohemia, squares with in the picture of the region, Vaclav Dolejsi writes in daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.

He writes that corruption, blackmail, theft of European subsidies, black souls in parties, Godfathers, illegal money changers, all this has been spread in the northern districts much more than in the rest of the country.
Sociologists and demographers ascribed this long ago to two blows dealt to the north after World War Two. The first was the post-transfer of a bigger part of German inhabitants from the Sudeten that resulted in a big decline in life in towns and villages, Dolejsi writes.
The other blow followed in the 1960s when massive brown coal mining started in te region and communists were luring people to do the hard work with high wages, recruitment contributions and firm flats, Dolejsi writes.
And so also people who did not have the best intentions came to the region while the intelligentsia and elites were leaving it, Dolejsi writes.

Petr Kambersky writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) on the same topic that the murder of a high-placed regional politician, Roman Houska from the CSSD, points to the very low level of local politics.
People like Houska, his partner and former regional governor Jana Vanhova or Alexandr Novak, the Civic Democrats' (ODS) former senator who is serving his sentence for accepting a bribe of 47 million crowns, are deciding about schools and motorways not only in Chomutov, north Bohemia, to which all three have close links.
Kambersky writes that there is no need to single out Chomutov as the worst place on Earth. The murder of Houska underlines the cruel truth: not even established parties are able to do in northern Bohemia without local shady operators who would not be able to do anything but managing a car second-hand shop on the outskirts in normal conditions.

Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka must form a government because if he failed, another fratricidal war would flare up in the party that would fall minimally to the level of the present-day Civic Democrats (ODS), or even lower, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in the daily Pravo.
That is why Sobotka is trying to negotiate such compromises that would not discourage the other two partners from participation in the government and at the same keep the fundamental parameters of the party programme at least, Mitrofanov writes.
He writes that the party's internal problems do not interest society much. After the years of utterly abnormal governments it would deserve a stable structure, however, perhaps with more modest goals, but such that would be really fulfilled.

Elsewhere in Pravo, Jan Keller writes that the economic impact of the recent intervention of the Czech National Bank (CNB) against the strong crown is only to be seen, but from the sociological and political points of view, it can be commented on already now.
He writes that a CVVM poll has shown that almost 60 percent of households have difficulties to make the ends meet, and these people will hardly be buying what they do not need necessarily.
This means that the CNB's intervention is not much meaningful from the sociological point of view, Keller writes.
From the political point of view, the growth in fuels prices, higher prices of imported goods and the general increase in prices will be the first what the new post-election government will get as a Christmas present if it is formed by then, Keller writes.
It is good that the CNB is politically independent. If it were not, one would have to ask why it decided to resolve the problems that existed throughout the rule of the previous government just now when it can harm the start of the new government, Keller writes with some irony.
CTK

Profile of Czech president's steps in choosing new prime minister
Prague, Nov 20 (CTK) - This is a survey of steps the Czech president is bound or empowered to take when choosing a new prime minister, which CTK moves on the eve of President Milos Zeman's expected entrusting of the government-forming talks to the election-winning Social Democrat (CSSD) head Bohuslav Sobotka:

- The appointment of a new prime minister and further steps in establishing a new government is based on the rules embedded in the Czech constitution. The constitution says the president first appoints a prime minister. It says nothing about a person being asked to launch government-forming negotiations nor does it set any deadline for the president to appoint a new prime minister.
- The constitution does not set any rules for president in choosing the prime minister, but there are a few unwritten habits for presidents to follow (for example, the leader of the election-winning party is usually chosen for prime minister). While the new prime minister is forming his cabinet, the country continues to be governed by the outgoing cabinet.
- The constitution does not set any deadline for the prime minister-designate to form his cabinet. After being formed, the new cabinet is appointed by the president on the prime minister's proposal. The president cannot appoint a person whom the prime minister did not propose to him.
- Before appointing the prime minister, the president can ask someone to launch negotiations on forming a new government. It is up to the president to choose the person to launch government-forming talks. "The president can do so if he concludes that the time is ripe for it. However the step is only political, not constitutional," the then President Vaclav Havel's spokesman said after the mid-1996 elections in reaction to outgoing PM Vaclav Klaus, who protested against the possibility of the new parliament's first session preceding the formation of a new cabinet.
- The entrusting of government-forming negotiations has been quite usual in the Czech Republic. After the elections, the president has most often appointed or entrusted the winning-party chairperson (if they were able to win a majority support in the Chamber of Deputies). When a cabinet fell halfway its term of office, the president usually appoints or entrusts with government-forming negotiations a person who had a chance to form a cabinet with a majority support in the Chamber of Deputies, or a person whom parties wanted to head the cabinet until early elections. The only exception is the present interim cabinet of Jiri Rusnok, which President Milos Zeman appointed against the will of political parties and which lost the Chamber of Deputies' confidence vote.
- So far the only person whom the president entrusted to conduct government-forming negotiations and who afterwards did not become prime minister is Josef Lux, then chairman of the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) whom president Vaclav Havel entrusted to launch negotiations on forming an interim cabinet in December 1997, after the Civic Democrat (ODS)-led cabinet of Vaclav Klaus fell over a scandal around the ODS's financial management. Lux then negotiated parties' support for the caretaker cabinet of Josef Tosovsky, then Czech National Bank governor.
- The only exception when the president did not entrust government-forming negotiations to the election-winning party head was Jiri Paroubek, who resigned as CSSD chairman after the mid-2010 general election (his successor Bohuslav Sobotka failed in seeking the entrusting). The CSSD won the elections but was unable to find a coalition partner to govern with. The runner-up ODS chairman Petr Necas showed capable of forming a coalition and then president Klaus entrusted him to launch government-forming talks.
- In the case of the present Rusnok caretaker cabinet, Zeman did not entrust anyone but he directly appointed Rusnok prime minister eight days after the Necas cabinet fell over corruption and illegal surveillance. In the same way, then president Klaus directly appointed then Czech Statistical Office head Jan Fischer prime minister of a caretaker cabinet in spring 2009, but he did so based on an agreement of the ODS, the CSSD, the Green party and a part of the KDU-CSL.
CTK

Czech university students' monthly costs up to Kc 15,000 - survey
Prague, Nov 19 (CTK) - Czech students spend some 9000 crowns a month for living and studies at public universities and over 15,000 at private schools, according to the results of a survey carried out on 4664 Czechs within the all-European project, Eurostudent, released today.

The most expensive are law studies. Future lawyers are also the group that works while studying most of all. The lowest costs bear future graduates from technical branches of study.
The survey showed that 40 percent of students have more than 10,000 crowns a month at their disposal.
Public university students cover about a half of the costs of studies and living with their earnings. The figure is up to 78 percent for private university students. They usually get the rest of the money from their parents or partners.
"More than a half of law and education branches students do not get money from their parents. On the other hand, more than 80 percent of students of technical and arts schools are supported by their parents," the survey's guarantor Jakub Fischer said.
Law students have the highest living costs, about 12,000 crowns a month, and they spend 10,000 crowns on studies per term. Two thirds of them have a regular income.
Students of technical branches have the lowest living costs, about 8000 crowns a month and they pay some 2000 crowns for their studies per term. Some 40 percent of them do not have even an occasional income.
Students said in the survey the financial availability of the studies only played a small role while future demand on the job market and interest in the branch were decisive in choosing the school.
The survey also showed that a crushing majority of the students would again choose the same school and they assess their prospects on the labour market as good or even very good.
Particularly graduates from medical, law and technical faculties are optimistic about their job opportunities while agriculture students are the most pessimistic.
The students are satisfied with school equipment, the teachers' attitude and the quality of lessons, the survey showed.
However, the students who partially studied abroad are much more critical of the conditions at domestic universities.
A quarter of master's programmes students have already spent some time abroad or are preparing for it. Forty percent of university students under 21 also said they want to partially study abroad.
The survey also showed that 13 percent of students have a health handicap, particullrly psychiatric disorders.
($1=20.066 crowns)

CTK

Exhibition on Czechoslovak legionnaires opens in Strasbourg
Strasbourg, Nov 19 (CTK) - Oldrich Vlasak, Czech deputy chairman of the European Parliament (EP), opened an exhibition marking 100 years since the establishment of Czechoslovak anti-Austrian military units in First World War, dubbed the legions, in the EP building today.

In January, the wandering exhibition will move from Strasbourg to the Czech Senate.
The units with volunteers fighting the Austro-Hungarian Empire started to be formed in Russia, Italy and France in 1914.
"They were made up of the Czechs and Slovaks who lived abroad or Austro-Hungerian soldiers who switched sides," said Vlasak (Civic Democratic Party (ODS), adding that such exhibitions should help encourage "national confidence."
"Only thanks to the legions and their heroism we were able to push through the idea of an independent Czechoslovakia. Without the legions, there would not be the Czech Republic and Slovakia either," Vlasak told CTK and the Czech Radio public broadcaster.
Vlasak said he was surprised at the large number of Croatian and Italian MEPs knowing the Czechoslovak legions.
He said he believed the "respect for soldiers in the Czech Republic is quite different than in Britain and other European countries."
Along with the exhibits prepared by Jan and Sabina Kratochvils from the Museum of Czech and Slovak Exile of the 20th Century in Brno, the exhibition presents the sabre of Milan Rastislav Stefanik, one of Czechoslovakia's founders, and the banner of Czechoslovak volunteers in France from World War One.
After the exhibition in the Senate ends, Vlasak will offer it to the mayors of large Czech towns. It may also appear in the Slovak parliament

.CTK

Influential Czech regional politician Houska murdered
Chomutov, North Bohemia, Nov 19 (CTK) - Influential regional politician and businessman Roman Houska (Social Democrats, CSSD), partner of former CSSD regional governor Jana Vanhova, was murdered in Chomutov on Monday, Jan Jakovec, head of the Usti Regional State Attorney's Office, confirmed to CTK today.

Jakovec said he would provide no further information as the case in being investigated. The police are searching for the murderer.
The news server Novinky.cz wrote that Houska was shot dead.
The police were called to the house of Houska, 51, and Vanhova, 58, on Monday evening.
Houska's body was found by construction firm owner Vlastimil Rindos, who arrived to a meeting agreed before. The dead Houska lay at the house covered with a canvas, some news servers reported.
Vanhova refused to comment on the case for personal reasons.
Some servers wrote that Vanhova collapsed in reaction to Houska's death and she was treated in hospital.
Most of the addressed Social Democrats refused to comment on Houska's death. They only said the police must investigate this crime.
Some former CSSD members called Houska a controversial man.
CSSD MP Jaroslav Foldyna, from the Usti region, said he believes the murder is related to Houska's business activities rather than to his CSSD membership.
Houska was assistant to CSSD MP Jaroslav Krakora and partner of Vanhova, present deputy regional governor who was regional governor in 2008-2012.
Krakora called Houska's death "unfortunate."
In the Usti regional branch of the Social Democrats, Houska belonged to the camp that opposed the branch's former head Petr Benda, supporter of former CSSD chairman Jiri Paroubek. Both Paroubek and Benda left the party in 2011 and formed the small National Socialists (NS-LEV 21).
Paroubek demanded an apology for Houska's statement that Paroubek is a modern variant of Soviet politician Lavrentiy Beria, but the court decided last year that no apology is needed and the appeals court upheld the verdict in September.
Paroubek and Benda said in a joint press release today Houska had long been controversial. At the same time they admitted that Houska had been one of significant CSSD personalities in the region.
Senator Vladimir Dryml, who left the CSSD in 2012, also called Houska an important CSSD member, in a press release.
"The death of Roman Houska has clearly shown the dark side of the CSSD connected with the mysterious funding of campaigns and links to European money as well as support to strange regional projects. He was a very important CSSD member and it turns out that mafia practices are surfacing. Former regional governor Jana Vanhova may also be afraid now," Dryml wrote.
In the past Houska was suspected of bribery but was never accused. He denied having asked for a bribe.
Houska allegedly also intimidated Czech Television reporter Karel Vrana who had shot several reports about him.
In 2003, Houska drove into a municipal policeman for which he was originally given suspended sentence but a higher-level court annulled the verdict and qualified the act as a mere misdemeanour. Houska was not punished at all as the Chomutov Town Hall failed to deal with his case by a legal deadline.
CTK

 

 

 

 

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Tuesaday, November19 ,2013

Czechs to assist in developing European unmanned plane
Brussels, Nov 19 (CTK) - Czechs will assist in developing a European unmanned plane, or its part securing these planes' integration in the European air traffic control and making them "visible" for civilian air operation centres that could warn aircraft in their surroundings, Daniel Kostoval told CTK today.

Kostoval, Czech deputy defence minister, said Czech industry wants to invest about 200,000 euros in this project in 2015. The ministry itself is ready to earmark further 50,000 euros for this purpose next year.
Kostoval signed the Czech accession to the relevant programme, launched by the European Defence Agency (EDA), in Brussels today.
The programme involves some eight EU members now.
"In general, the goal is that Europe in 2020-2025 be capable of producing unmanned vehicles of the second generation without having to buy them outside Europe," Kostoval said.
Kostoval is attending a meeting of EU defence ministers that discusses security and defence policies ahead of the EU's December summit.
He told CTK that the EU's own unmanned plane, whose development Brussels views as a strategic project, may also be used for civilian purposes, by the police, for example.
Its use for military purposes is supposed mainly outside the EU. Libya, for example, has shown that the Europeans lag behind considerably in this respect, Kostoval said.
In the EU airspace, the planes could be used to assist in police actions, help map landscapes or tackle natural disasters. In these situations, their integration in the system of air traffic control is crucial, Kostoval said.
He said Czech firms have already shown interest in the project and international cooperation linked to it.

CTK

Czech Catholic Church to start investment fund - press
Prague, Nov 19 (CTK) - The Czech Roman Catholic Church plans to deposit a part of the money that it will get as financial compensation for its unreturned property in an investment fund, Czech Bishops' Conference general secretary Tomas Holub told today's issue of daily Hospodarske noviny (HN).

Under the property settlement between the churches and the state that took effect in January, nationalised property worth 75 billion crowns will be returned to the churches along with financial compensation of 59 billion crowns plus inflation in the next 30 years.
The Catholic Church is to receive the biggest part of the money, 47.2 billion crowns.
Holub said the church is negotiating with three banks about the creation of the investment fund that would probably be launched in mid-2014.
There would be hundreds of millions of crowns in the fund and individual dioceses would decide themselves how much they would deposit, he said.
Holub told the paper that dioceses or religious orders would use the profits from the fund for investments for schools, hospices, cultural heritage reconstruction - or salaries, as the state contributions from which priests are paid would gradually be decreasing.
In connection with the planned revenues in form of the compensation, Czech bishops have approved stricter rules for dealing with property, Holub said.
All transactions over 50,000 crowns now must be approved by the given diocese and transactions over 40 million crowns must be approved by the bishops.
Holub said dioceses would have to submit their business plans to make it clear how they were going to administer their property. An independent analytical group comprising external experts would assess the business plans every year, he added.
Holub told HN the churches might receive a part of the financial compensation in the form of state bonds. Negotiations with the Finance Ministry are underway, he said.
The Social Democrats (CSSD) who won the recent general election would like to reduce the compensation paid by the state to the churches and to exempt Prague Castle from the restitution. Representatives of the CSSD and the churches are to meet on Thursday.
However, church representatives indicated that they would not accept any reduction of the compensation.
"I don't expect the Catholic or any other church to accept the lowering of the compensation. However, the use of these finances may be agreed on," daily Pravo quotes Tomas Kraus, secretary to the Czech Federation of Jewish Communities, as saying.
"The law has taken effect, the agreements, too, and so it would not be good to revise them for various reasons," Kraus said, referring to the agreement between the state and the churches and the church restitution law.
Milan Badal, secretary to Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka, told Pravo that the Catholic Church has offered several concessions, for example to receive state bonds rather than cash.
Badal, too, said the purposes for which the financial compensation would be used may be clearly defined.
"We are willing to use nearly all the money for charity projects and this should be the real subject of the discussion and of the cooperation," Badal told Pravo.
($1=20.066 crowns)
CTK

Public criticism of weakening crown surprises Czech banks - press
Prague, Nov 18 (CTK) - Resolute and legible changes are not frequent in the Czech Republic and so the recent central bank's (CNB) intervention against the strong crown should have aroused sympathy, therefore the CNB may have been taken aback by public criticism, Ludek Niedermayer writes in Respekt out today.

He writes in the weekly that the CNB's step was criticised by industrialists and analysts as well as both the former and current presidents, Vaclav Klaus and Milos Zeman, respectively.
Niedermayer writes that the CNB's step is a breaktrough decision from many points of view, probably the most resolute expression of state economic policy since the end of the 1990s.
The exchange rate is a key value for the small, export-orientated Czech economy, and even though the central bank took occasional steps against the fluctuation of the currency, it never before did it with the aim of entirely fundamentally change its value, Niedermayer writes.
The core of the problem is that the CNB explains its intervention by the fear of a decrease in prices, not by fear of economic stagnation or even decline, Niedermayer writes.
However, he writes, low inflation is no threat for a crushing majority of citizens as well as businesspeople who all see a threat in its increase, on the contrary, Niedermayer writes.
Besides, a look back will show that this country has experienced a quick decrease in inflation minimally four times since the fall of the previous regime in 1989 and the CNB never intervened, Niedermayer writes.
Neverthless, from the point of view of macroeconomists, a weaker exchange rate that boosts Czech exports while it restricts imports, looks attractive because it can promote economic growth, Niedermayer writes.
However, a weak crown and a related growth in prices restrict the purchasing power of savings and on top of it the CNB wants to continue to keep its interest rates at zero, Niedermayer writes.
The contribution of a weak crown to exports will only be palpable slowly because a big part of exporters have the crown's exchange rate secured in contracts in for a long time to go, Niedermayer writes.
He writes that besides these doubts about the correctness of the CNB's intervention, the question of how long the CNB wants to keep the weak currency on the level of 27 crowns per euro must be asked because this will be decisive for whether the weakening of the exchange rate will help the economy.
CNB governor Miroslav Singer speaks about one and a half years while the CNB expects inflation to rise to 3 percent in the course of 2014 [compared with 0.9 percent in October], which would make keeping of a weak crown and zero interest rates over a longer period a risky policy - inflation could continue to grow, Niedermayer writes.
Moreover, as soon as the end of the interventions (CNB is weakening the crown by buying the euro for 27 crowns on financial markets), the number of investors wishing to sell euros to the bank for this price and to buy them more cheaply after the intervention ends may grow, Niedermayer writes.
He writes that this may bring them yields of billions of crowns while the CNB will be losing. Businesspeople may be afraid that the crown's exchange rate will all of a sudden firm quickly which will threaten their firms.
Even though the economic decrease in the past quarter-year, with which the CNB did not originally count, supports its step, the answer to the question of whether the CNB made or did not make a mistake with its surprising decision will only be brought by further developments, Niedermayer writes.
True, the conditions of the Czech economy did not allow the central bank to boost growth with usual means - a decreasing of the interest rates (they are already at zero) - or "new" instruments, such as quantitative loosening, or the printing of money, which is done by the U.S. and British central banks.
The Czech bank market has a surplus of money, also thanks to the previous CNB interventions, which makes this step senseless, Niedermayer writes.
The CNB naturally may have done nothing and rely on that the government will eventually do something to revive the economy itself, but it is known from past experiences that it is not possible to rely on this, Niedermayer writes.
The bank could also wait for an economic revival in the European Union as an engine of the Czech economy, but the CNB banking council does not like the EU too much and it does not probably suit it to wait for salvation from outside, Niedermayer writes.
Another problem is that many economists and central bankers rely on the illusion that the monetary policy always finds instruments with which to save the economy, Niedermayer writes.
The truth is, however, that central banks have no such an instrument and they also lack political legitimacy to make huge and risky interventions in the economy, Niedermayer writes.
The CNB's intervention would be more comprehensible if it were weakening the crown in preparation of the adoption of the euro, in which case the problem with ending the interventions would no longer exist, Niedermayer writes.
He writes that this does not sound too feasibly given the CNB's cool stand on the EU and the lacking support of the government.
It is only to be believed that in spite of all doubts, the rather risky calculation of the CNB will eventually prove itself and help the country, Niedermayer writes.
($1=20.169 crowns)
CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 19 (CTK) - One of the factors harming the election result of the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) may be, paradoxically, the worsening of the social situation in the country under the rule of right-wing parties, Jan Keller writes in daily Pravo today.

The social decline can be seen on the number of people living under the poverty line. The core of this group are the unemployed, Keller says.
Unemployment rate went markedly down under Civic Democrat (ODS) prime minister Mirek Topolanek, but the number of those under the poverty line decreased far less markedly: in 2006 it was approximately one million, while in 2009 about 850,000 in the 10.-5 million country, Keller writes.
Under ODS prime minister Petr Necas (from mid-2010 to mid-2013) this number rose to 1.6 million in only three years. Further 1.7 million people live slightly above the poverty line, he points out.
The Czechs who are falling to the bottom either do not cast their votes in elections at all or they give protest votes to the fiercest critics of the present situation, Keller writes.

Petr Kambersky says in Hospodarske noviny (HN) that the emerging coalition government of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) seems to lack visions and the only words one can hear from its representatives is "We want to abolish..."
The plans of this centrist alliance do not seem to bring anything disastrous, however, if the new rulers reach agreement only on abolition and destruction, it will not move the country forward, Kambersky writes.

Michal Musil says in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) that former CSSD prime minister Jiri Paroubek pointed to a real problem when he criticised the fact that the Czech state does offers former prime ministers neither a special pension nor an office.
Paroubek recalled that Germany takes care of its former prime ministers, Musil writes.
This may be one of the reason why Germany has a lower number of political scandals than the Czech Republic, Musil says.
CTK

Constituent session of Czech lower house called for November 25
Prague, Nov 18 (CTK) - Former head of the lower house of Czech parliament, Miroslava Nemcova (Civic Democratic Party, ODS), has officially called the constituent meeting of the new Chamber of Deputies for 14:00 on November 25, its press department said today.

The agenda includes a proposal to establish the mandate and immunity committee and the election of the Chamber of Deputies chairman and deputy chairpersons.
In the past terms of office, the programme of the first session had the same 17 points.
This time, the deputies will also debate four legal measures, whereby the draft programme will include 21 points.
The four legal measures of the government were passed by the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies must decide on them at its first session.
These will be an increase in the state payment for health insurance for children and pensioners, tax changes arising from the new civil code, a new regulation of the tax when acquiring the real estate and changes in the public procurement.
In the past, the constituent session usually lasted two days.
At least 24 hours must pass between the nomination and election of the Chamber of Deputies senior officials.
After the 2006 general election, the constituent session lasted about six weeks.
CTK

 

 

 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture  Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is„ without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.“


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Monday,November 18 ,2013

Czechs consider October 28 most important national holiday - poll
Prague, Nov 18 (CTK) - The most important national holiday is October 28, marking the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia in 1918, as 93 percent of Czechs agreed that it is of high importance, according to an opinion poll by the CVVM agency released to CTK today.

The foundation of the independent state is considered even more important than Christmas Day (92 percent) and the Victory Day (May 8; 90 percent).
A vast majority of Czechs also agree on the importance of the Day of the Czech Statehood, which is celebrated on St Wenceslas Day on September 28, of the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day, commemorating student demonstrations in 1939 and 1989 on November 17, and of the John Huss Day, paying respect to a church reformer burned at the stake in 1415 and marked on July 6.
Three fourths of Czechs consider important the St Cyril and Methodius Day (July 5), commemorating the 9th century Slavic missionaries, Easter Monday and the Day of the Restoration of the Independent Czech State (January 1), marking Czechoslovakia's split in two countries in 1993.
The least popular national holiday is Labour Day (May 1), however, as many as 70 percent consider it important.
The Easter holiday, the St Cyril and Methodius Day and St Wenceslas Day (Czech Statehood Day) is considered important more often by people who belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Protestant believers tend to consider more important the John Huss Day.
Labour Day and Victory Day are seen as highly important especially by left-wing supporters, while by days marking the 1989 Velvet Revolution (November 17) and the 1993 "velvet divorce" (January 1) are more respected by right-wing supporters.
Czechs agree on the importance of October 28 and December 24 holidays irrespective of any social or demographical characteristics.
Only 56 percent of the respondents said they consider important their birthday. Especially people aged under 29 view their birthday as important.
The poll was conducted on 1039 people over 15 in October. 

CTK

ANO in Czech government cannot prevent budget gap increase- press
Prague, Nov 18 (CTK) - The measures promoted by Andrej Babis's ANO, a possible partner in the nascent Czech government, may raise the state revenues but not before 2016, and the country cannot avert an increase in the state budget gap and debt in the next two years, Bohumil Pecinka says in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD).

It is unavoidable in a situation where ANO is resolutely opposed to raising taxes but at the same time it demands an increase in state expenditures, Pecinka writes.
ANO, a political newcomer combining rightist and leftist positions, finished strong second in the late October elections and it is conducting government-forming negotiations with the election-winning Social Democrats (CSSD).
CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka on Friday showed surprise, or even annoyance at what he called unfeasibility of ANO's demand to raise the state spending without raising taxes parallelly. However, Sobotka should come to terms with this discrepancy as it is a phenomenon typical of ANO, Pecinka writes.
Never since 1989 has the Czech Chamber of Deputies been entered by a political party like ANO with so complex and antagonist electorate, he continues.
The election map shows that ANO won the polls mainly in the extremely left-minded areas in northern Bohemia and northern Moravia, but also in the traditionally right-oriented such as Prague-East, northeast Bohemia and eastern Moravia, Pecinka says.
In the former areas, ANO attracted the leftist voters by its solidarity appeal on redistribution, in the latter it scored points by its no-tax-increase demand. It impressed both groups by criticising the situation under the previous government, Pecinka writes.
Babis will be trying to politically satisfy both his left- and right-leaning supporters, which will force him into antagonist positions. As a result, all government policy will be pursued based on the principle one step rightwards, two steps leftwards and the other way round, Pecinka writes.
Any prime minister who plans to ally with ANO must either accept this phenomenon or reject ANO as a negotiating partner, Pecinka says.
CSSD leaders fail to psychologically cope with the fact that the election outcome thwarted their plan to form a minority government kept afloat by the Communists (KSCM) and that the CSSD will have an equal partner [ANO] within the government coalition [which is also to include the centrist Christian Democrats], Pecinka writes.
The CSSD's poor election showing caused a rift in the party which Sobotka solved by suppressing his critics by promising government seats to those siding with him. This, however, made him "condemned" to form any sort of government at any cost, otherwise he would be ousted from politics, Pecinka writes.
Babis is well aware of this and remains unimpressed by Sobotka's criticism. Unlike Sobotka, Babis need not seek government entry at any cost, as he is sure of entering it next time, if not now, Pecinka says.
Behind the tactical government-forming negotiations there is a real dispute between the CSSD and ANO over where to generate money to satisfy their electorates, Pecinka continues.
Sobotka, a pragmatic social democrat and potential new prime minister, proposes a tax increase. Babis, a visionary, is opposed to it. Sobotka, for his part, urges Babis to specify the financial sources that, Babis asserts, are available without a tax increase, Pecinka says.
Unfortunately, the CSSD's eager election campaign completely discredited the main possible source of revenues, which is the budget cuts. Since the CSSD presented the previous right-wing cabinet's budget austerity measures as totally inappropriate and harmful, no one will dare to use this fastest method of money generating any more, Pecinka writes.
Babis speaks of a better collection of taxes and mainly of a central system of state procurement and purchases. This is an ambitious project whose implementation would take about two years and that cannot bring "quick" money to the state coffers immediately, Pecinka writes.
A better collection of taxes, too, requires new legislation whose passing would take many months, let's say a year and a half, before it turns out that not repressions but a simplification of the too complex tax legislation is the best way to improve tax collection, Pecinka says.
The last chance for the state revenues to increase is the economic growth, but it cannot be expected in the next two years either, he adds.
As a result, in 2014 and 2015 the government's policy of one step rightwards and two steps leftwards can be covered only through a higher state budget gap and the respective state debt increase. The sooner the future government coalition announces this to people, the better, Pecinka writes in conclusion.
CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 18 (CTK) - Agricultural magnate Andrej Babis, whose ANO might join the new Czech cabinet, says he wants the state to behave like a business firm, i.e. maximise its profit, but at the same time he will want his Agrofert firm to maximise its profit as well, Julie Hrstkova writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

According to Babis, the state should seek optimising the collection of taxes to raise its revenues. At the same time, however, representatives of big companies such as Agrofert openly admit that they are doing their utmost to find holes in the tax system and use them to pay the lowest tax possible and save money on the insurance they pay for the employees, Hrstkova writes.
This practice is widely known as "aggressive optimisation," she says.
As far as corruption is concerned, it flourishes in the private sector, whose interconnection with the state administration is intensifying, with company managers being ready to do anything to win a public order, Hrstkova writes, referring to reports by Transparency International and the counter-intelligence service.
ANO's aims are inseparable from Babis's, she writes and challenges Babis's vow that as a government party, ANO would would try hard to maximise the state's profit by effectively collecting taxes and cracking down on corruption.

Before the October elections, Andrej Babis asserted that his ANO would do everything better than the traditional political parties, if elected to parliament, but now he presents only a single goal - holes in the state revenues must be plugged, which will make the revenues as high as needed, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in Pravo.
It is up to economic experts to calculate whether the money saved by introducing a central system of state acquisitions, a better collection of taxes and some other "plumber's" interventions, proposed by Babis, would be enough, Mitrofanov writes.
Even if the calculations confirmed Babis's plan as feasible, who would manage to motivate people on whom the plugging of holes depends, to change their habits overnight and start applying the new rules, which, Babis asserts, would improve the situation soon? Mitrofanov asks.
Even if Babis's idea were implemented and proved effective, ANO still does not have any long-term vision or plan, it does not say what path the country should take, Mitrofanov says.


Outgoing interim Transport Minister Zdenek Zak seems not to bother about whether he is empowered to put up new and new tenders now that the Citizens' Rights Party - the Zemanites (SPOZ), for which he ran, suffered a debacle in the October general election and he is going to be replaced, Petr Fischer writes elsewhere in Hospodarske noviny (HN).
Zak and other members of Jiri Rusnok's outgoing caretaker cabinet continue "distributing" public orders and it is disputable whether the orders are needed really urgently or can wait for the new regular cabinet to deal with, Fischer writes.
He refers to Zak's decision to have a study of feasibility of the Danube-Oder-Elbe water corridor worth millions of crowns worked out and new luxurious cars for the Interior Ministry and saxophones for the police music band bought.
Such a distribution of presents by outgoing ministers cannot be prevented and the only possible thing is to make them draw political responsibility. However, political responsibility plays no role in the case of ministers like Rusnok's team, who enter politics at someone's invitation for an interim period, Fischer writes.
Nevertheless, this may not apply to Zak, as well as outgoing Finance Minister Jan Fischer, who say they want to continue working as politicians, Fischer adds.
CTK

Czech ANO leader Babis dismisses collaboration with Communist StB
Prague, Nov 17 (CTK) - Billionaire Andrej Babis, head of the Czech ANO (YES) movement, told the public broadcaster Czech Television (CT) today that his trial over alleged collaboration with the Communist-era secret service StB was manipulated.

Babis said he had never signed collaboration with the StB. If anything, he was terrorised, investigated and blackmailed because his family "included two emigres," he added.
The Slovak National Memory Institute (UPN) considers the archive files that point to Babis's the cooperation the StB trustworthy, UPN head Ondrej Krajnak told CTK last week.
Babis, who is a Slovak and spent much of his life in Slovakia, has sued the UPN over the allegation.
"The trial is manipulated. As there are tens of witnesses, the trial can last three or more years," Babis said.
President Milos Zeman has warned that he will not name as government members the people who are unable to produce a negative lustration certificate confirming that they were never StB agents.
Babis's ANO is conducting talks with the Social Democrats (CSSD) and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) on a new government.
Babis is eying the post of finance minister.
Babis has not asked for the certificate and called his alleged collaboration with the StB "an affair manipulated by the whole corruption system that is afraid of his becoming the finance minister."
"There is generally a low probability that the pieces of evidence were fabricated as they exist in three files independent from each other," Krajnak said, commenting on the StB files in which agent Bures, Babis's alleged cover name, figures.
Babis said Krajnak had kept silent since last January when he filed the criminal complaint.
"As soon as the parliamentary elections started, the director came, having miraculously found two files, producing a witness who died in April 2012, calling a man with whom I allegedly signed something," Babis said.
The UPN, administering the StB files, found another two files on Babis in the archives. They prove that agent Bures was StB's informer and he visited a flat used by the secret police. However, the whole file is not preserved since some parts were shredded in the past.
Babis said he had never been to the flat in question. "The StB agent probably used to go there along with his lover and they received refreshments for this," Babis said.
"At that time, I was not in Czechoslovakia, I was in Morocco," he added.
Babis worked in the Petrimex foreign trade company in the 1980s. In 1985, he left for a long business trip to Morocco.
Babis claims that he was a victim of the StB. The trial will continue in January.
CTK

ANO, Czech Social Democrats differ in governance style - Babis
Prague, Nov 17 (CTK) - The ANO movement and the Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) absolutely differ in their views of state governance, billionaire Andrej Babis, ANO leader, said today.

Representatives of the CSSD and ANO, winners of the recent general election, will meet to discuss the next government along with Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) later today.
ANO insists on the need not to increase taxes. At first, costs must be cut and the nation should be governed in an efficient way, Babis said.
Babis, the second richest Czech, said he wanted ANO to be given the Finance Ministry.
"There we can basically alter the cash flow, the state procurement," Babis said.
Increase in some taxes is one of the affairs in which ANO and CSSD differ.
Babis said the CSSD did not understand where to save money.
"We will tell it this evening," Babis said.
He stressed that the state should be managed as a firm that buys at much cheaper prices than now.
The slogan that the state should be managed as a firm was one of the arguments thanks to which ANO unexpectedly won almost 19 percent of the vote.
The state must introduce central purchases, Babis said, criticising state procurement without tenders.
The state also must start collecting efficiently taxes, Babis said, pointing to the frauds with VAT as well as cigarettes and alcohol taxes.
"I cannot see any reason to increase taxes. Let us start managing the state in a rational way," Babis said.
If the state budget does not have enough money even then, changes in taxation should be envisaged, he added. The Social Democrats propose that corporate taxes be raised.
CTK

 

 

 

 

 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture  Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is„ without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.“


alt

This news digest is selected and edited by the Czech Events Network


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Former Czechoslovak Communist PM can be put on trial - press
Prague, Nov 16 (CTK) - The police are preparing the evidence under which architects of the Czechoslovak section of the Iron Curtain in which hundreds of people perished could be put on trial, including former Czechoslovak Communist Prime Minister Lubomir Strougal, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today.

Thre are only a few months left for the police to finish one of the most complicated cases of the past years, putting on trial the architects of the Czechoslovak Iron Curtain from 1948-1989, MfD writes.
This primarily relates to those who contributed to the building of electric wires as well as wire walls with lethal voltage alongside the Czechoslovak-Western border, it adds.
The number of the victims of the entire Iron Curtain is estimated at around 1,000, MfD writes.
A total of 91 people were killed by the electric barriers and five by land-mines, MfD writes.
The conditions at the Iron Curtain are graphically described by the fact that around 200 Communist border police committed suicide, it adds.
The electric barriers were only switched off in 1965.
"I presume that we will assemble the evidence by the end of the year," Pavel Bret, director of the Office for the Documentation and Investigation of Communist Crimes, is quoted as saying.
If anyone is convicted, it will be the first time that some of the Communist senior officials will be accountable for the crimes, MfD writes.
So far, only regular border police have been convicted, it adds.
"I cannot rule out that this will be some of the responsible functionaries," Bret said.
Bret said the crimes did not fall under the statute of limitations and their organisers had come under the suspicion of the crime of public nuisance and abuse of power that carry the ten-year prison sentence.
The border barrier that prevented the flights to the West was a complex mechanism whose operation was maintained by hundreds of people, MfD writes.
Strougal, Czechoslovak prime minister in 1970-1988, was the interior minister for much of the 1960s, it adds.
Strougal has refused to comment on the issue.
The police had tried to bring charges against Ludvik Hlavacka, the founder of the Czechoslovak Iron Curtain, but he has died.
However, former East German leader Egon Krenz was sent to prison over shooting at the Berlin Wall in Germany, MfD writes.

CTK

Czech military may be increased - press
Prague, Nov 16 (CTK) - The Czech Defence Ministry will recruit new soldiers after it has enough money as international pacts allow 93,000 troops for the Czech Republic, but the military is actually much smaller, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today.

The Slovak Military 1.724 members including civilian employees is still dwarfed by its Czech counterpart that looks like a giant with its 33,000 members, MfD writes.
However, the Defence Ministry is of the view that is still a small number, it adds.
"Given the Czech Republic's size I consider the current number of soldiers minimal," outgoing Defence Minister Vlastimil Picek said at a military commanders' meeting on Thursday.
As the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) allows 93,000 troops to the Czech Republic, the Defence Ministry wants to use this, MfD writes.
However, it still lacks what is essential, a long-standing inflow of cash, it adds.
"In order to trigger some development, a budget of around 50 billion crowns is necessary," Picek said.
He declined to elaborate on the ideal number as the military will adopt itself after the money is available, MfD writes.
Next year, the military will have 43 billion crowns, it adds.
Some experts say the current situation is all but critical, MfD writes.
"From the viewpoint of its tasks, the military is on the verge of its capabilities," former chief of staff Jiri Sedivy is quoted as saying.
In 2011, military commanders resumed recruitment, but the new soldiers have mainly filled existing vacancies, MfD writes.
Sedivy said the military's position on the labour market was worsened by the soldiers' rather poor salaries.
This is why the government is about to give a go-ahead to a package of bills providing for the necessary changes at its Wednesday meeting, MfD writes.
They include a new system of remuneration as well as the introduction of a career order in which everyone can plan the career growth within the military, it adds.
If the defence budget is not increased and the money for fresh soldiers were not allotted, the investments will not be stopped anyway, Picek said.
"We can afford a small professional military not only thanks to the EU and NATO membership, but also thanks to the technological superiority over possible enemies," he added.
"Hence the need to continue with expensive, but efficient arms systems," Picek said.
Under the CFE, the Czech Republic can have 957 tanks, 1,367 armoured personnel carriers and 767 artillery systems, while it only has 123, 501, and 182 of them, MfD writes.
Besides, Czechs can have 230 combat aircraft and 50 combat helicopters, but the real numbers are only 39 and 24, respectively.
($1 = 20.169 crowns)
CTK

Czech doctors provide artificial reproduction to Israelis
Brno, Nov 16 (CTK) - Some 20-25 Israeli couples monthly go to the Reprofit Reproductive Medicine Clinic in Brno in search of artificial reproduction, the Czech clinic's head Marek Koudelka told CTK today.

Israelis are interested in in vitro fertilisation, but the donorship of eggs is not common in their country, Koudelka said.
The clinic cooperates with a similar facility in Jerusalem that sends the couples to Brno. A rabbi accompanies the strongly religious Jews to supervise the procedure, Koudelka said.
"Egg donation is a method permitted in Israel, but there are not many donors there. However, they have no problem when using the cells from a different country," he added.
The doctors prepare the patients for the procedure in their country and sometimes also transport the partners' sperm.
"The patient only comes on the day the embryos themselves are prepared," Koudelka said.
Roughly once in two to three months a rabbi accompanies a group of orthodox believers, he added.
"For the people, faith is substantial. All the time, we are checked by the rabbi or his representatives who do not understand the processes, but they are of major importance for the patients," Koudelka said.
Children are very important for Israelis even at the cost of high expenditures, Koudelka said.
"The groups of patients from Israel have been coming here every month since 2006. Recently their number has been constantly increasing," an expert has said.
CTK

Czech military reserve members to be deployed in foreign missions
Prague, Nov 16 (CTK) - It will be possible to call members of the Czech active reserve force to the service in foreign missions under the bill to be discussed by the government next week.

The increased remuneration of the force's members and advantages to their employers are to increase the number of the members of the active reserve force.
At present, the military has 1,000 of them, but it would like to have up to 5000 members, a Defence Ministry report has said.
The military demands an increase in the number of reserve soldiers also because in the past year the spending on defence was falling, including that on professional soldiers.
Besides, the current model of the reserve force is poorly efficient.
"The number of the people interested in the active reserve force has been about 1,000 in the long run. Since it was formed in 2002, it has been rather falling," the report said.
At present, the military has about 20,000 soldiers. Along with tasks in the country, it fulfils international obligations in foreign missions.
Due to the relatively low number of career soldiers, the time of regeneration between the deployment in individual foreign missions is shortening.
"The use of the active reserve as a short-term increase in the armed forces capabilities is an acceptable alternative to the demand that much more money should be spent to cover an increase in the number of career soldiers," it added.
Members of the reserve force who will take part in a foreign mission are to be financially rewarded similarly to professional soldiers.
The size of the active reserve force is to be increased by former professional soldiers having the duty to serve some more years in this force after they end in the military.
The military also wants to attract new people by increasing the remuneration for the service in active reserve and by a contribution to the study for the young.
The students will be given 10,000 crowns per university term.
The report on the bill says the maximum number of 5,000 members of the active reserve force will not be reached even after ten years.
At present it happens that employers are reluctant to let members of active reserve go for compulsory training. This is to be resolved by higher financial compensations for employers.
They will also be unable to give a notice to such soldiers during their service.
Due to a continuing recession, the military spending has been falling in the past years. At present, the Defence Ministry's budget is 42 billion crowns, while its officials say the figure should be least 50 billion.
The budget bill reckons with an increase in the defence budget by roughly 700 million crowns for next year.
($1 = 20.169 crowns)
CTK

Czechs are greatly interested in first Czech food collection
Prague, Nov 16 (CTK) - Customers are greatly interested in offering food within the first National Food Collection held in 111 shops across the Czech Republic today, organisers have told CTK
.

The customers donate the food for the people from asylum, children's and old-age homes and to poor families.
"We have the news from the big hypermarkets in Prague such as Globus, Albert and Tesco," Pavlina Kalousova, from the organising Business for Society, has told CTK.
"We have on average found out that there are over 120 things per one trolley, which is roughly 70 kilograms. So far, we have had eight to nine trolleys per one shop," Kalousova said.
She said the organisers of the collection presumed that ten to 12 trolleys full of food would be gathered in the biggest hypermarkets by 20:00 today.
About 1,000 volunteers are helping to organise the collection. They are distributing leaflets with the list of the suitable food to donate to the buyers.
If they buy some of them, they pass them to the volunteers behind the cash desks.
The selected food is being driven to the food banks where it is sorted and weighed, Kalousova said.
The Federation of Food Banks associates banks in Prague, Ostrava, north Moravia, Liberec, north Bohemia, and Plzen, west Bohemia. The first bank was established in 2006.
Since then, some 2,000 tonnes of food have been assembled. Although the Czech Republic is one of the EU countries with the lowest proportion of the people below the poverty level, their number increases, having reached almost one-tenth of the overall population.
Last year, the growth in the number of the poor stopped. However, there were still 990,300 of them in the 10.5 million Czech Republic, the Czech Statistical Office has said.
CTK

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday,November 16,2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 16 (CTK) - The outcome could have been far worse for the Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) due to their behaviour immediately after the late October election, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in Pravo, analysing the results of the latest poll giving the party only the second place after billionaire Andrej Babis's ANO (YES).

Party leader Bohuslav Sobotka can prevent devastating internal conflicts by his success in the talks on the new government with ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), Mitrofanov writes.
However, this will be extremely difficult. Experts have almost written down the programme of foreign and security policy to which ANO and the Christian Democrats do not have any objections, he adds.
On the other hand, the real ordeal will only come in the sphere of taxes and return of property to churches, Mitrofanov writes.
As far as Babis is concerned, he must be tempted by the vision of another early election his ANO would win and then it would only dictate its conditions to the rest, Mitrofanov writes.


One cannot envy the new government the legacy to which it will be bound, Jiri Hanak writes in Pravo.
There is the question of whether it will be formed in the foreseeable future in the first place, Hanak writes.
The Czech policy is seriously influenced by the past developments. Only this can explain why one of the three parties that are not part of the established system has become an indispensable mainstay of a possible coalition government, he adds.
Many compromises and concessions will be needed. Or else, the government will not be formed, Hanak writes.


The Czech central bank has not gone insane and it should be trusted, Vladimir Dlouhy writes in Mlada fronta Dnes, commenting on the CNB's decision to intervene against the Czech crown in order to weaken it, a step criticised by both current President Milos Zeman and his predecessor Vaclav Klaus.
Presidents do have a right to their own views, but in this specific case, even them do not have the right to voice their views without any background, Dlouhy writes.
At present, the central bank must make not only right, but also trustworthy decisions, he adds.
The presidents must realise that the times when authoritative economic judgements were uttered from the Presidential Office are over, Dlouhy writes.
Zeman does not have any professional background at Prague Castle, the seat of Czech heads of state. Neither has it been established in the Vaclav Klaus Institute, he adds.
The central bank's decision should be respected and now the effort should be devoted to other vital things, Dlouhy writes.
This is how democratic countries that trust their institutions behave, he adds.
CTK

German Order not entitled to Czech property it claims - official
Prague, Nov 15 (CTK) - The German Order is not entitled to the Bouzov castle and its other former property in the Czech Republic that it claims within the Czech church restitution because the property was confiscated based on the Benes decrees in 1945, Czech deputy culture minister Frantisek Mikes said today.

Under the law on the state-church property settlement, churches are to be returned the property seized from them under the communist regime, i.e. from February 25, 1948 to January 1, 1990.
The German Order, successor to the Teutonic Knights, argues that the post-war confiscation of its Czech property was abolished by court still before the Communist takeover on February 25, 1948.
Earlier this week, the German Order applied for the return of about 13,500 hectares of land, the Bouzov and Sovinec castles, the Karlova Studanka spa and some other real estate in northern Moravia.
Mikes said on Czech Television (CT) that the property was confiscated from the Order under the post-war decrees issued by then Czechoslovak President Edvard Benes, which is why the Order is not entitled to it.
According to previous information, The German Order lost all property in the late 1930s when it was abolished by the Nazis.
After World War Two, it claimed back its Czech property but the then Czechoslovak Agriculture Ministry labelled it as an organisation of traitors and its property was confiscated based on the Benes Decrees.
In February 1948, shortly before the Communist coup, the then Supreme Administrative Court reportedly decided that the property be returned. However, after the communists seized power, the verdict was never delivered to the Order and thus did not come into force.
After the fall of the communist regime in late 1989, the Order sought the return of the property but in vain.
CT said other religious orders can also expect problems to accompany their restitution claims.
The Order of Malta will face a problem with claiming 120 hectares of land near Brezineves, a vicinity on the northern outskirts of Prague, since the state doubts whether the Order lost the property as late as under the communist regime.
The mayor of Brezineves has submitted a document showing that the Order of Malta lost the property on February 24, 1948, on the eve of the Communist coup.
If the date is verified as the final decision on the property, the Czech Land Office cannot hand it out to the applicant, the office director Petr Stovicek told CT.
CT, nevertheless, said the Order of Malta has a different document allegedly proving that the state delivered the decision on the land's confiscation to it only in March 1948.
"This means the Order quite rightfully claims its property that was confiscated from it after February 25, 1948," its lawyer Eva Zikmundova said.
Both the German Order and the Order of Malta are ready to seek the property return in a court dispute with the state, CT said.
CTK

CSSD, ANO as potential allies promote Czech food self-sufficiency
Prague, Nov 15 (CTK) - The Czech election-winning Social Democrats (CSSD) and their potential government partner ANO will push for the country's food self-sufficiency, and they are also for simplifying the process of projects' environmental impact assessment (EIA), ANO expert and MP Richard Brabec said today.

After a meeting of CSSD and ANO experts, Brabec told CTK that they have agreed on putting an emphasis on ANO's priority which is the Czech food self-sufficiency in staple foods.
In the area of environment protection, both the CSSD and ANO want to pursue a "reasonable protection," no "terror," Brabec said.
They would like to have the EIA process simplified. At present it is too complex, which causes delays preparing a number of projects, Brabec said.
Food self-sufficiency has been one of the priorities of ANO, a new movement of Andrej Babis, one of the richest Czech entrepreneurs who owns the Agrofert holding including many agricultural and food-processing companies.
The CSSD with 50 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies wants to form a coalition government with ANO, which ended second in the later October general election, gaining 47 seats, and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), who have 14 seats.
Other teams of CSSD and ANO experts today reached agreement on issues related to foreign and defence policies, industry and transport.
Both parties share a critical view on the church restitution process that has been underway based on a law from 2012, their previous statements showed.
Difference of opinions is expected in the area of taxes.
CTK

Potential allies CSSD, ANO agree on Czech foreign, defence policy
Prague, Nov 15 (CTK) - The Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO, potential allies in the new Czech cabinet, share views on foreign and defence policies, both seeking Prague's active participation in European affairs along with changes to the Defence Ministry's system of public procurement, Lubomir Zaoralek said today.

Zaoralek, CSSD deputy chairman and post-election negotiator, told CTK that in this area, the views of the election-winning CSSD and the runner-up ANO movement are so close that the two parties have almost completed the relevant chapter of a draft government policy statement.
He said agreement has also been reached on the need to adjust the foreign policy plan in areas such as human rights.
It is necessary to specify "what our position in the area of human rights support should actually be, because on a number of issues we [Czechs] have shunned taking clear positions in the past time, on Syria etc. We've kept silent on a number of things," Zaoralek, the CSSD's shadow foreign minister, said.
He said in the foreign political area he does not expect any conflicts to arise between the CSSD and its other potential junior government partner, the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), either.
ANO negotiator Martin Stropnicky today confirmed the agreement ANO and the CSSD have reached on issues related to foreign and defence policies.
"We have registered no palpable controversy on any of the two chapters' key issues," Stropnicky said.
As far as defence is concerned, both ANO and the CSSD want stabilisation of the defence spending and mainly a change to the public procurement system, Zaoralek said.
"We've agreed that we immensely mind the way public money has been handled at the Defence Ministry," Zaoralek said, pointing to the number of suspicious cases that have been investigated and some still remain unclarified.
Zaoralek also emphasised the importance of a civilian control of the military. He said the Czech Republic is far from having "a really consistent civilian control of the military, which should be a matter of course in a civilised democratic country."
CTK

Czech troops start patrolling Bagram Airfield base in Afghanistan
Kabul/Prague, Nov 15 (CTK) - Czech troops started patrolling Bagram Airfield, the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan, today and they will be be fulfilling the task in the next six months, Czech General Staff spokeswoman Jana Ruzickova told CTK.

The commander of the 149 members of the Czech patrolling unit is Captain Libor Tesar, from the 73rd tank battalion.
The Czechs underwent training with U.S. MRAP armoured vehicles in the past month in the area.
Approximately 40,000 soldiers are based in Bagram Airfield.
The Czechs will control the 15-kilometre area around the base.
"Our patrols will focus on places, from which rebels shot rockets on the base in the past. We will set up check points and seek hidden weapons and ammunition of the rebels," Tesar said.
He said the Czechs had more squads responsible for this work than the Americans, which meant that the Czechs bear most of the responsibility for the base's protection.
The allied troops have been gradually withdrawing from Afghanistan and handing their powers to the Afghan armed forces. According to media reporting, the Afghan forces are hit by big losses in fighting the rebels and by massive desertion.
About 100,000 foreign soldiers, mostly U.S. troops, are deployed in Afghanistan under NATO's command. A small number of troops is to stay in the country even after 2014 and the Americans are negotiating with Afghan President Hamid Karzai about the conditions of their deployment.
After a big part of Czechs have been withdrawn from Afghanistan, the soldiers will only guard the airport in the capital of Kabul and Bagram.
The Czechs have left the Logar province where a provincial reconstruction team operated and the Wardak province, one of the most dangerous in the country.
CTK

 

 

 

 

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Friday, November 15,2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 15 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman will not surrender so easily and he will do his utmost to complicate the path of Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka to the prime minister's post, Petr Honzejk writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

He recalls that Zeman will follow one of the "constitutional habits," which he in the past called "stupid," and he will first assign Sobotka to negotiate on a government formation before being appointed prime minister. Yet nothing prevents Zeman from appointing Sobotka, whose nascent coalition government commands a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, prime minister at once.
By insisting on the "constitutional habit" Zeman denies himself, Honzejk writes.
He points out that Zeman is not a politician to give up the fight after the first lost battle and he is only limited by his health condition,
"The Czech political system will be ambivalent for good after Zeman. We will have a parliamentary or semi-presidential republic according to what gets into the president's head," Honzejk writes in conclusion.


The Social Democrats' long-term dream is to be fulfilled at the end as their negotiators have agreed with the ANO movement, their potential coalition partner, on the abolition of patients' health care fees, though this step is nonsensical, Martin Zverina writes in Lidove noviny (LN) today.
He recalls that the Czech Republic is not as rich as its Western neighbours yet it has one of the lowest direct financial participation of patients in the health care funding.
The nascent government coalition of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) will definitely confirm that the health care system is short of money but at the same time it will claim that it will redress the situation without asking the patients for any sacrifices, which is unrealistic, Zverina indicates.
The coalition has set out on the path of increasing people's demands and consequently it will have to satisfy them. However, it has no idea of the limits of the demands, Zverina concludes.


Ludek Navara in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) says today the Constitutional Court (US) judges might serve for one term only to prevent their possible decision-making from being dependent on politicians.
President Milos Zeman has proposed another two candidates for the US who are not controversial at first sight and whom the Senate will probably approve smoothly, Navara writes.
Yet one of them, Jan Musil, is a current US judge and he is actually to "replace himself" if approved, Navara recalls.
He asks whether it is right that the US judges can occupy the post for two terms since politicians decide on their election and the judges might deal with disputes in which politicians are involved.
Will the judges not be afraid of making decisions against those who have their future in their hands? Navara asks, citing the example of US judge Vlastimil Vyborny who was not elected for the second time after he stood by his stance on the church restitution that was at variance with the left-wing majority in the Senate.
In some countries a constitutional judge is appointed for one term only exactly for the above mentioned reasons. It should be taken into consideration in the Czech Republic, Navara says in MfD.
CTK

Former Czech president Klaus is for lustration of ministers
Prague, Nov 15 (CTK) - It should be taken as granted that candidates for the posts of ministers submit a negative lustration certificate, former Czech president Vaclav Klaus said on his website today.

The breach of the lustration law cannot be tolerated and the lustration should not be abolished, Klaus said.
President Milos Zeman wants members of the government that is to arise from the ongoing talks between party leaders to submit the certificate.
This may pose a problem for billionaire Andrej Babis, head of the ANO (YES) movement, who has been suggested as finance minister in the government in the making.
ANO surprisingly finished second in the late October general election in the Czech Republic, closely trailing the winning Social Democrats (CSSD).
On Wednesday, the Slovak National Memory Institute (UPN) said it considered the archive files that point to Babis's cooperation with the communist secret police (StB) trustworthy.
Babis, who is of Slovak origin, filed a legal complaint against the UPN with the Bratislava court. He demands that the court confirm he was registered as an StB agent unrightfully.
In 1991 the Czechoslovak parliament passed the lustration (screening) law that bars former StB collaborators, former members of the People's Militia communist para-military force and Communist senior officials from senior civil service posts.
Klaus said when he was the president (2003-2013), he appointed tens of ministers and in all cases he had in his hands their negative lustration certificates before he did so.
"It was never necessary to ask the candidates to submit them as this was always considered something automatic," Klaus said.
In the early 1990s, Klaus was not among resolute proponents of the legislation, thinking that it might only target minor figures, but he decided that the lustrations were needed.
"It was clear that we could not make do without a form of protection of the civil service against former Communist structures. At that time, no one devised any better legislation," Klaus said.
"In fact, no one has devised it until now. This is why the law is still valid and its validity has been several times prolonged," he added.
Some lawyers say it is not compulsory for government members to have the lustration certificate.
CTK

Czech CSSD wants ANO, KDU-CSL to submit budget calculation
Prague, Nov 15 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) want the ANO movement and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) to do a calculation of the state budget's revenues and expenditures as a condition for government-forming negotiations to progress, CSSD deputy head Lubomir Zaoralek said today.

Zaoralek met journalists after a meeting of the CSSD board that summed up the negotiations held to date.
The CSSD, winner of the end-October early general election, wants to form a government with billionaire Andrej Babis's ANO and the KDU-CSL that returned to the lower house of parliament after a three-year pause.
The three parties have a majority of 111 votes in the 200-seat lower house. They are now standing before a second round of negotiations, in which they will mainly focus on spheres in which their opinion differ.
Zaoralek said the three parties have found agreement in a number of spheres.
He said the three parties, however, are in dispute over "what is entirely fundamental. This is the question of tax incomes of the state budget. That is why I cannot be much joyful because the whole construction will rest on very feeble bases until we resolve the fundamental question of state budget spendings and revenues, the question of taxes."
Besides their stand on the return of property to churches confiscated by the communist regime, taxes and the budget policy are another extensive sphere that divides the potential government coalition partners.
The CSSD wants individuals' progressive taxation and higher corporate taxes, which ANO refuses. The KDU-CSL agree with progressive taxes, but is against an increase in corporate taxes.
Zaoralek said the CSSD has submitted a clear calculation comparing its election promises with resources for their financing.
"We would like our partners to do a similar calculation now and to say how they want to fund their ideas of state budget expenditures because I believe this calculation is a condition for further steps," Zaoralek said.
CTK

Czechs spending EU money at last moment - press
Prague, Nov 15 (CTK) - Czech ministries and various offices that dragged their feet when administering EU operational programmes are giving hastily a go-ahead to hundreds of projects monthly at the close of the seven-year European budget period, daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today.

The seven-year European planning period budget that provides various subsidies ends this year, but the Czech Republic has only been able to spend less than one-third of the 795 billion crowns at its disposal, MfD writes.
To close the gap, the Environment Ministry was doubling the number of the passed projects every month during the past three months, it adds.
However, experts warn that due to the hasty pace the threat has arisen that the authorities will give their blessing to those who are not entitled to them under the rules of the EU that will eventually not pay the money to the Czech Republic, MfD writes.
The officials in charge of the subsidies blame their predecessors for the delays, it adds.
"It is true that the ministry is settling with a three-year delay what ought to have been done at the beginning," former environment minister Tomas Chalupa (Civic Democrats, ODS, 2011-July 2013) is quoted as saying.
"The process was poorly set by my predecessors," he added.
Education and environment ministries employees now do not know what to do with money. They work overtime and at the weekends approving applications for subsidies and creating new programmes on which the money could be spent, MfD writes.
The Education Ministry has come up with the training of kindergarten teachers, seeking the European subsidies that will end this year, it adds.
At the Environment Ministry, over 1,000 programmes that need EU subsidies were passed during October, MfD writes.
In September, it was only one half the figure, while in the past, it was only rarely more than 100 programmes a month. The employees are simply pressed for time, it adds.
The Czech Republic adopted a lax attitude to the drawing of EU money during the seven-year EU budget period that will soon end, MfD writes.
If the remaining money out of the 795 billion total sum is not "administered" by the end of the year, it may be lost, it adds.
However, the Supreme Audit Office (NKU) and Local Development Minister Frantisek Lukl have warned of the rash approval of subsidies at the last moment, MfD writes.
Due to the insufficient checking, hundreds of million crowns were wasted on overpriced, useless and ill-considerate projects that eventually did more harm than good, it adds.
This is exemplified by water parks that are only visited by very few people, but they swallow a large portion of local budgets annually, MfD writes.
However, Martin Kubica, from the Operational Programme Environment said most projects approved at the ministry related to the generally beneficial building insulation.
Local Development Ministry spokesman Marek Zenkl said given the working pace, some missteps could not be ruled out.
On the other hand, the civil servants have acquired many experiences in the course of time, which is to reduce the number of mistakes, Zenkl said.
($1 = 20.220 crowns)
CTK

Elections show Czechs reject church restitution- Communist head
Lany, Central Bohemia, Nov 14 (CTK) - The result of the Czech late October polls shows that people have not accepted the church restitution as pushed through by the then right-wing cabinet a year ago and valid as from 2013, Communist (KSCM) head Vojtech Filip said after meeting President Milos Zeman today.

Filip said the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), who are conducting negotiations as a potential partner in the new government, should not insist that the law on the property settlement between the state and churches must remain unchanged.
Filip told journalists he acquainted Zeman with his view of the nascent government coalition of the Social Democrats (CSSD), the ANO movement and the KDU-CSL.
He said by opposing any changes to the church restitution, the KDU-CSL goes against the election result. That is why the KSCM is against the KDU-CSL joining the new cabinet unless it reassessed its position on the issue.
"In my opinion it is necessary that the KDU-CSL, which did not assist in passing the church restitution law, does not insist on its validity," Filip told reporters.
KDU-CSL chairman Pavel Belobradek reacted saying that any changes to the relevant contracts between the state and 16 churches would require the consent of both contractual parties.
That is why Belobradek welcomes CSSD chairman and potential prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka's plan to negotiate about the possible changes with representatives of churches and religious communities, he told CTK.
After failing to re-enter the Chamber of Deputies in 2010, the centrist KDU-CSL did not assist in the relevant bill's passage in late 2012. Nevertheless, the church restitution had been among its priorities in the past two decades.
In October, the KDU-CSL succeeded in re-entering the lower house after a three-year pause and it may become a junior partner in a cabinet led by the election-winning CSSD.
The CSSD and the other possible junior partner, ANO, seek changes to the restitution law, mainly to the 59 billion crowns plus inflation churches are to receive in compensation for unreturned property.
Filip said the church restitution law must be abolished and replaced with a different law that would be "acceptable for a majority of the Czech society, not only for clerics."
Zeman reportedly told Filip that he is ready to receive chairpersons of all parties in parliament, if they ask him to. It makes no difference to him whether he would meet them separately or at a joint meeting, Filip said, citing Zeman.
Since the fall of the communist regime, the KSCM has been in opposition on the national level as all parties have shunned cooperation with it as undemocratic.
In the October general election it finished third with 33 seats in the 200-seat lower house, after the CSSD (50 seats) and ANO (47).
The KDU-CSL has 14 seats.
Earlier today, Filip told journalists that he would gladly accept the post of Chamber of Deputies deputy chairman if his candidacy were proposed by the KSCM and passed by the Chamber.
CTK

 

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Thursday, November 14,2013

Zeman might help Czech CSSD, KDU solve church restitution - press
Prague, Nov 14 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman, who is on excellent terms with Cardinal Dominik Duka, with a bit of goodwill could help resolve the church restitution issue that is a stumbling block in the negotiations about a new government, Lukas Jelinek writes in daily Pravo today.

Jelinek writes that the negotiators of the Social Democrats (CSSD) and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), who must resolve the issue, have a hard task.
They both want to satisfy their voters, but neither party knows entirely how. This confirms what a big problem the former centre-right government of the Civic Democrats (ODS), TOP 09 and LIDEM, that passed the law on return of the property confiscated from the churches by the communist regime, left over, Jelinek writes.
Under the law on state-church property settlement, which was pushed through by the then right-wing cabinet and took effect in January, 16 churches are to get back over the next 30 years some real estate confiscated from them by the Czechoslovak communist regime in 1948-1989, worth 75 billion crowns, plus 59 billion in compensation for unreturned property. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
Jelinek recalls that the CSSD would like to at least moderate the restitution and it particularly mentions the compensation sum of 59 billion crowns plus its inflation clause.
But it will not be easy. The law has been signed just as the related contracts with churches, Jelinek writes.
He says not even a common citizen would like the signed contracts, particularly the property ones, becoming invalid one day only because the legislation changed.
Jelinek writes that the church restitution, pushed through by the previous Chamber of Deputies by the single vote of then ODS lawmaker Roman Pekarek sentenced to five years in prison for corruption, is immoral and incomparable with other post-communist countries.
Even ANO lawmaker Martin Stropnicky points to that the compensation paid out to churches amounted to an equivalent of 500 crowns per capita in Poland and 1000 crowns in Hungary while it amounts to 10,000 crowns in the Czech Republic, Jelinek writes.
The Czech Republic, with a mere 10 percent of Catholics, is considered the most atheistic country in Europe.
The ANO movement of billionaire Andrej Babis is a third possible partner in a government coalition negotiations on which are being currently held. The CSSD, that won the end-October early general election with 20.5 percent, is trailed by ANO by less than 2 percent. The KDU-CSL won around 7 percent. They together have 111 votes in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
Jelinek writes that the restitution law, however, is valid and not even the Constitutional Court has reversed it. The state might yet revoke certain details, but to make more essential changes, it would have to resume the dialogue with churches which do not show any will for it.
The KDU-CSL could help with a diplomatic mission on this point. True, they have always supported church restitution, but they are not responsible for the way chosen for it [becasue it was not represented in the previous lower house of parliament that decided on it], Jelinek writes.
He writes that the KDU-CSL even criticises the way chosen in private. The problem is, however, that a gap has been created between the party and Catholic dignitaries.
The Catholics are the biggest church in the country that will get over 90 percent of the returned property as well as the financial compensation.
On the contrary, former prime minister Petr Necas (ODS) and former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) twisted them round their little fingers, Jelinek writes.
He writes that it suffices to remember how often and how consistently Cardinal Dominik Duka has defended the ODS and TOP 09 in media.
Those who recommend to replace the KDU-CSL with the Dawn of Direct Democracy of Tomio Okamura as a government coalition member have not probably noticed that the Dawn is totally unpredictable. It largely resembles Vit Barta's Public Affairs (VV) some of whose members were running and elected on the Dawn's list of candidates, Jelinek writes.
An Englishman would say about the CSSD and KDU-CSL: "Better the devil you know (than the devil you don't)," Jelinek writes.
The VV became a government coalition party in the 2010 elections, but in the course of time some defectors created LIDEM that joined the government, while the rump VV went into opposition.
Both parties know themselves well because they cooperated in past governments and they are quite predictable for one another, which cannot be said of the Dawn. The fewer mysterious parties are involved in the government, the better, Jelinek writes.
($1=20.162 crowns)
CTK

Canadian visas for Czechs to be lifted after 3.5 years
Prague, Nov 14 (CTK) - These are the developments connected with Canada's visa requirements for Czechs since the 1989 overthrow of the Communist regime:May 15, 1990 - Czechoslovakia unilaterally cancels visa requirements for Canadians. Canadians again needed visas for visits to Czechoslovakia from August 1991. This practice was in force even after the establishment of the Czech Republic as from January 1, 1993.

April 1, 1996 - Canada cancels visas for Czechs, the Czech Republic takes the same step the next day.
August 1997 - Nova commercial television channel broadcasts a programme on the fate of Romanies from Ostrava, north Moravia, in Canada. After it, many Romanies, especially from Ostrava, took interest in emigrating to Canada. The Czech government dealt with the situation.
October 8, 1997 - Canada re-imposes visas requirements for Czech citizens. 1,221 Czech citizens asked for asylum in Canada in 1997.
April 1, 2001 - In reaction to the Canadian measure from October 1997, the Czech government imposes visa requirements for Canadians.
May 1, 2004 - The Czech Republic enters the EU, whereby visa requirements for Canadians are cancelled.
November 1, 2007 - Canada lifts visas for Czechs for the second time.
July 1, 2009 - Canadian representatives warn Czech diplomacy that Canada may reintroduce the visa regime due to the high number of refugee applications in the days to come.
July 13, 2009 - Canada announces that it reintroduces visa requirements for the Czech Republic as from July 14.
July 14, 2009 - Prime Minister Jan Fischer announces that the Czech Republic introduces visa requirements for the holders of Canadian diplomatic and official passports.
July 15, 2009 - Swedish EU presidency speaks in favour of the idea of imposing visas on Canadians when travelling to EU countries.
October 23, 2009 - The EU warns Canada that it may impose visa requirements on its diplomats, if it does not make the issuance of visas for Czechs easier and does not take clear measures for the renewal of visa-free relations.
December 21, 2009 - Canadian tourist visas can be gained in Prague as of the day. Thanks to this, Czechs no longer have to travel to Vienna for them.
March 29, 2010 - European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstroem announces that the European Commission will not propose to EU members that they impose visas on Canadian diplomats for the time being.
May 5, 2010 - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper indicates that Canada will only lift visas for Czechs after Canada passes and implements new asylum legislation. This happened in December 2012.
September 17, 2010 - Prime Minister Petr Necas asks EU President Herman Van Rompuy that the EU press more on Canada over its visa requirements for Czechs and other countries.
November 19, 2010 - Necas discusses the issue with his Canadian counterpart. He received no clear promise or deadline by which the visas might be lifted.
March 8, 2011 - The European Parliament issues a declaration criticising the renewal of visas for Czechs and calls on the EU to exert more pressure on Canada in the issue.
May 20, 2012 - Necas has another meeting with Harper. After it, Necas announced that the Czech Republic may complicate Canada's negotiations about a trade treaty with the European Union unless the country abolishes the visa requirement for Czech citizens.
December 2012 - Canada implements reform of its immigration system. On the basis of it, it issued a list of roughly 30 countries, including the Czech Republic, that observe human rights. Asylum seekers from these countries are checked faster.
September 18, 2013 - Barroso promises to Czech President Milos Zeman that the EU will exert a pressure on Canada to lift the visa requirements for the Czech Republic.
October 16, 2013 - Referring to the Canadian Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, the portal canada.com writes that Canada is about to lift visa requirements for Czechs during next weeks.
November 14, 2013 - Canada will announce the lifting of visas for citizens of the Czech Republic, a source from diplomatic circles has told CTK.
CTK

Czech CSSD wants to discuss revision of church restitution
Prague, Nov 14 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) want to discuss a revision of church restitution and party chairman Bohuslav Sobotka has already asked Cardinal Dominik Duka and Ecumenical Council of Churches head Joel Ruml for a meeting, he said today.

"The simplest way towards reaching a revision of church restitution would be a new agreement with churches in which they would agree with reducing their financial demands placed on the state in the years to come," Sobotka said.
He said the meetings are already being arranged. He added that he expects the negotiations not to be easy.
The CSSD, winner of the end-October early general election, is now conducting negotiations with the ANO movement of billionaire Andrej Babis and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) on forming a coalition government.
Babis has criticised the inflation clause to the financial compensation for churches while the KDU-CSL wants to preserve the current situation.
Under the law on state-church property settlement, which was pushed through by the then right-wing cabinet and took effect in January, 16 churches are to get back over the next 30 years some real estate confiscated from them by the Czechoslovak communist regime in 1948-1989, worth 75 billion crowns, plus 59 billion in compensation for unreturned property that is to be raised by inflation. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
"We will want a revision to be part of the government coalition agreement," Sobotka said.
He said at the same time no other stable alternative of the above government coalition is probable.
Sobotka added, however, that "a number of other parties" were running in the elections with the goal to change the form of church restitution approved under the former centre-right coalition government of Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS).
"We will rely on their support when possible legislative changes are made," Sobotka said.
($1=20.162 crowns)
CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 14 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman is no longer what he used to be and though he will be making Social Democrat head Bohuslav Sobotka's government forming difficult, he has got entangled in his own contradicting statements, health problems and the failure of his political party that he will need some time to regain his former strength, Petr Honzejk writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.

At the moment Zeman may be crossed out from considerations about the future government coalition and its programme, Honzejk writes.
He writes that a government of Social Democrats (CSSD), Andrej Babis's ANO movement and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) will be formed because none of the probable actors, and actually no one, wants another early general election.
The KDU-CSL does not have money for it, the CSSD has neither money nor morals for it, and Babis might not score such a good result like in October, Honzejk writes.
The parties must reach agreement. It can be said that the agreement will be mainly be based on symbols. The CSSD must keep to the slogan "the rich are bad," the KDU-CSL to the slogan "we love the family" and Babis "I will salvage the state," Honzejk writes.
The government will be formed on the principle win-win-win, he adds.


Czech Supreme Administration Court chairman Josef Baxa has repeatedly warned that there is a threat of the collapse of the state's ability to enforce law, Vaclav Zak writes in Pravo and adds that a certain solution is offered to political parties by the Reconstruction of the State initiative.
It seems that political parties could be able to reach agreement on the civil service and the same applies to property statements, Zak writes.
But if the latter law is to really reduce corruption, it cannot only relate to politicians because otherwise the former managers of the Mostecka uhelna (MUS) coal mining company would have no problem at all, Zak writes.
However, not even the passing of all bills proposed by the Reconstruction of the State cannot strengthen the bases resting on sand. The main cause of the chaos in the Czech legal system is the position of the deputy in the constitution, Zak writes.
Since the fall of communism, the absurd position of the lawmakers inherited from the previous regime, in which every lawmaker had the right to propose bills because no one would have dared it, has not been changed, Zak writes.
In a democratic parliament, where any lawmaker can propose bills and changes to bills, the legislative process gets out of control and becomes a playground for lobbyist interests, Zak writes.


Social Democrat chairman Bohuslav Sobotka went to Lany to meet President Milos Zeman on Wednesday as a winner, winner over the wing of Michal Hasek as well as over the president, Karel Skrabal writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD).
He writes, however, that Zeman is a political predator and Sobotka, if he wants to achieve something in politics, must keep him in the corner to which he has now been pushed.
Zeman said before the talks his relations with Sobotka are professional, which means that he does not like him, but must endure it. Sobotka definitely has the same feelings in relation to Zeman, Skrabal writes.
It is in Sobotka's interest that talks with Zeman be brief and fast and he should not spend much force in themb because he needs energy and space for negotiations about a government coalition, Skrabal writes.
Sobotka needs to take over at least some negotiating intiative that Babis is now taking away from him with the formation of a team of his economic advisers, a shoot-out with the Christian Democrats over church restitution and the financing of their election campaign as well as mentioning the possibility of replacing the KDU-CSL with Tomio Okamura's Dawn in the possible future government coalition, Skrabal writes.
CTK

German Order claims property within Czech church restitution
Prague, Nov 13 (CTK) - The German Order, successor to the Teutonic Knights, today applied for the return of 13,500 hectares of land, the Bouzov and Sovinec castles and the Karlova Studanka spa within the ongoing church restitution in the Czech Republic, the order's spokesman Mikolas Cerny told CTK.

The order will also apply for the return of some movable property in the days to come, Cerny said.
If returned, the property would be used to further develop the German Order's activities in the Czech Republic, mainly in the areas of education, charity and social as well as spiritual services, he said.
Besides Bouzov, Sovinec and the spa, all northern Moravia, the order also claims other property in the same region - the Grand Master's House in Opava, the church in Karlova Studanka and the Bruntal chateau, Cerny said.
Nada Goryczkova, head of the National Heritage Institute (NPU) that manages Bouzov and the house in Opava, would not anticipate whether the order's claim would be met based on the church restitution law which took effect in January.
Under the law on state-church property settlement, 16 churches are to get back over the next 30 years some real estate confiscated from them by the Czechoslovak communist regime in 1948-1989, worth 75 billion crowns, plus 59 billion in compensation for unreturned property. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
The German Order's interest in real estate such as Bouzov and Karlova Studanka is not surprising.
The Teutonic Knights founded the Karlova Studanka spa in the Jeseniky mountains in the 19th century.
They lost all property in the late 1930s when the Order was abolished by the Nazis.
After World War Two, it claimed back its Czech property but the then Czechoslovak Agriculture Ministry labelled the Order as an organisation of traitors and its property was confiscated.
In February 1948, the then Supreme Administrative Court decided that the property be returned. However, after the communists seized power in Czechoslovakia on February 25, 1948, the verdict was never delivered to the Order and thus did not come into force.
After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, the Order sought the return of the property but in vain.
The Grand Master's vicar Metodej Hofman said in a statement he gave to CTK via Cerny that after the Nazi takeover in Germany, the Order stood up against Germany's expansive policy and took steps aimed to preserve the integrity and sovereignty of Czechoslovakia.
In a direct consequence of its loyalty to the Czechoslovak Republic, the Order was abolished and its property confiscated. It happened on February 27, 1939 based on a decree of the Reich Commissioner for the Sudeten German regions, Hofman said.
He said the German Order wants back the real estate that was confiscated from it by the Nazis before World War Two and that was returned to it based on Czechoslovak president Edvard Benes's decree in 1945. Based on the then agreement between the Order and the state, the property was put under the state management where it remained until 1951. It ensues from this, that the Order owned the real estate on February 25, 1948, Hofman pointed out.
Czech historian Jaroslav Sebek said a possible return of the claimed property might go beyond February 25, 1948 as the deadline for property returns set by the restitution law.
"The Catholic Church fully recognises the deadline of February 25, 1948....and it expects the state to ensure a proper examination of all applications so that the deadline is not violated," Czech Bishops' Conference secretary Tomas Holub told CTK.
The Teutonic Order was established in Acre, now Israel, in 1190. It started to operate in the Czech Lands at the invitation of the then King Premysl Otakar I in the early 13th century.
At present its headquarters is in Vienna.
It runs a high school and a leisure time centre in Olomouc, a conservatory in Opava and a nursery home in Bruntal, all north Moravia.
($1=20.107 crowns)
CTK

 

 

 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture  Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is„ without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.“


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This news digest is selected and edited by the Czech Events Network


Wednesday, November 13,2013

Documents on Babis's contacts with StB trustworthy-Slovak office. Bratislava, Nov 13 (CTK) - The Slovak National Memory Institute (UPN) considers the archive files that point to the cooperation of businessman Andrej Babis, leader of the Czech ANO movement, with the communist secret police (StB) trustworthy, UPN head Ondrej Krajnak indicated in an interview for CTK.

Billionaire Babis's ANO surprisingly ended second in the late-October general election in the Czech Republic, closely trailing the winning Social Democrats (CSSD), and it may join a nascent coalition government.
Babis is speculated about as a future finance minister. If his collaboration with the StB were confirmed, it would considerably complicate his political career.
Babis, who is of Slovak origin, filed a legal complaint against the UPN with the Bratislava court. He demand that the court confirm he was registered as an StB agent unrightfully.
The UPN lost most of similar disputes in the past.
"We have submitted such documents and evidence that support the UPN's stance (to the court). There is generally a low probability that the pieces of evidence were fabricated as they exist in three files independent from each other," Krajnak said, commenting on the StB files in which agent Bures, Babis's alleged cover name, figures.
It ensues from the file the StB kept on Babis that he was an informer of the StB from 1980 and in 1982 and later he became an StB agent.
Babis worked in the Petrimex foreign trade company in the 1980s, In 1985, he left for a long business trip to Morocco.
The UPN, administering the StB files, found another two files on Babis in the archives. They prove that agent Bures was StB's informer and he visited a flat used by the secret police. However, the whole file is not preserved since some parts were shredded in the past.
Krajnak refused to speculate whether Babis had knowingly cooperated with the StB and had been its agent.
"We know that the StB was fulfilling its tasks responsibly in the former Czechoslovakia and that the register of StB agents was subject to double checking. We do not suppose that serious mistakes could be made during the registration," he said.
He, however, did not rule out that StB staff could sporadically make such mistakes. "The more documents (about one person) have been preserved, the more their genuine character and the registration's rightfulness are confirmed," Krajnak added.
Babis repeatedly denied any deliberate collaboration with the StB. He claims that the secret police kept the files with the cover name Bures to report some activity. He was abroad at the time when he allegedly nodded to the cooperation with the StB, he said previously.
He, however, conceded to having met StB officers as a staffer of a foreign trade company under the Communist regime. They were interested in the import of low-quality phosphates from Syria, he added.
The Slovak court will continue to deal with Babis's complaint against the UPN in January.
"He (Babis) is a strong complainant. We must fight back. If we questioned the archives' content and the authenticity of the documents, we would question the UPN's meaning as well," Krajnak said.
The UPN, founded in 2002, has faced 47 legal complaints against people's registry in the StB files and it has lost most of the disputes.
Krajnak, who was elected the UPN director in February, is of the view that the institute is partially to blame for its failure in the disputes since it did not use all available legal means to thwart the court verdicts.
He added that the UPN would act more actively in this respect under his management.
Krajnak also criticised the fact that the complaints concerning StB archive files targetted the UPN.
"We consider it very unfortunate. We have the duty embedded in the law to publish the then StB agenda," he concluded.
CTK

First Czechoslovak cosmonaut Remek named ambassador to Russia
Prague, Nov 13 (CTK) - A brief profile of the first Czechoslovak cosmonaut, Vladimir Remek, 65, future Czech ambassador to Russia whose letters of credence were signed by President Milos Zeman:

Date and place of birth: September 26, 1948, Ceske Budejovice, south Bohemia
Education: graduate from Air Force Academy in Kosice, east Slovakia (1970), Gagarin Air Force Academy in Moscow (1976) and Military Academy of the General Staff in Moscow (1988).
Current posts: member of the European Parliament (since July 2004; elected as an unaffiliated for Communists, KSCM, he defended the mandate in 2009), member of the parliamentary budget committee and member of the parliamentary delegation EU-Russia.
Professional career: in Czechoslovak military, he became fighter pilot in 1970 and he was eventually promoted to the rank of air force division deputy commander. Until 1990, employed as military pilot; in 1990-1995, director of the Military Aviation Museum in Prague-Kbely; sales representative of CZ Strakonice in Moscow for five years and general director of the joint venture CZ-Turbo-GAZ in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, then commercial counsellor of the Czech embassy in Russia; in 2004, elected MEP.
Party membership and posts: unaffiliated; in 1967-1990 member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC). After the fall of the Communist regime he had to end his party membership as a career soldier.
Family: twice married, with two daughters.
Other information:
- After a special preparation in the Star City in the USSR, he became the first man in the space from a different country than the USSR and the USA in 1978, he was the 87th man in the space. Along with Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Gubarev, commander of the spacecraft, Remek was one of the two members of the first international crew: their Soyuz 28 took off on March 2, 1978 and the crew spent eight days in the Salyut space station.
- Remek left the military in the rank of colonel in 1995 due to disputes at the Military Aviation Museum.
- Remek is one of the few personalities to be featured on postage stamps during their life.
- In 2001, he survived the fall of a military helicopter on board of which he was along with U.S. astronaut of Czech origin Eugene Cernan.
- In 2009, he was the Communists' candidate for the Czech European commissioner.
- Last autumn, he was suggested as the Communist candidate for president. The Communists did not eventually field their own candidate.
- After his space flight, he received a number of medals, most recently the Medal for Merit in the Conquest of Space from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the Gagarin Order from the Russian upper house, the Federation Council, in April 2011. He has held the title Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest Soviet distinction, since 1978.
- President Milos Zeman mentioned Remek as a new ambassador to Russia after he was elected in February. The idea was not ruled out by former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) either. However, Schwarzenberg later had a sharp dispute with Zeman over who can appoint ambassadors that froze the naming. The road to Remek's naming was only made free after the new Jiri Rusnok's caretaker government was appointed in July.
CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 13 (CTK) - The nascent Czech coalition does not have any candidate for the post of finance minister, Petr Honzejk writes in a commentary headlined There Are No People in Hospodarske noviny (HN).

Head of the ANO movement Andrej Babis cannot get a go-ahead from President Milos Zeman as he has not received the lustration certificate, Honzejk writes.Social Democrat (CSSD) Jan Mladek scares his own party whenever he opens his mouth, he adds.
The parties do not have anyone else who could be seriously suggested for the post, Honzejk writes.
This is a sign of the disintegration of the political system. The environment of parties not only does not produce any convincing leaders, but one cannot even find in them any people able of drafting some real concepts, he adds.
For the Czech political scene, the same can be said as about the Communist economy from the late 1980s. There are no people, Honzejk writes.
One should understand this as a very strong warning because, having taken a lesson from the Communist regime, it is common knowledge that every system in which "there are no people" is doomed to oblivion, he adds.


The question of return of property to churches can doom the nascent coalition government, Martin Zverina writes in Lidove noviny (LN).
Although the coalition talks seem to successfully continue, there are some signs that the road to harmony will not be easy, Zverina writes.
This is exemplified by the property settlement with churches, he adds.
Obviously, Babis and ANO have changed their mind, having adopted the position of the Social Democrats and that they will force the church to revise the pact between it and the state, he adds.
However, this is a hitch for Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) who are interested in being in the coalition, Zverina writes.
Much is at stake for the Christian Democrats and if they betray their voters, they can be sure not to return to the Chamber of Deputies, he adds.
However, one can still presume that the conflicting declarations are just a temporary affair and that on behalf of the next government a consensus will be eventually found, Zverina writes.


The idea of direct democracy with a general referendum, advocated by Tomio Okamura's Dawn of Direct Democracy, may be a dangerous issue, Jiri Hanak writes in Pravo.
It is doubly so in its primitive form as presented now, as a general referendum on everything, from the dismissal of politicians to changes in legislation, Hanak writes.
The almost legendary Switzerland is Okamura's model. However, this is a problem Czechs have already tackled, but never surmounted. They used to build democracy without democrats. Now it would mean building a Switzerland without the Swiss and their traditions lasting centuries, he adds.
By the way, there is the question of whether the direct democracy works well among the Swiss because they are prosperous or they are prosperous because direct democracy works well there, Hanak writes.
CTK

China officially invites Czech President Milos Zeman. Prague, Nov 12 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman has received an official invitation to visit China from Song Tao, Secretary-General of China Central and Eastern Europe Cooperation Secretariat, Presidential Office spokesman Hana Burianova told CTK today.

Song Tao met Zeman on the occasion of a Czech-Chinese economic forum held under Zeman's auspices, Burianova said.
Due to a recent leg injury, Zeman has cancelled all his foreign trips scheduled until the end of the year. As a result, he will not visit Serbia, Romania and Czech troops in Afghanistan.
The planned visit will only take place next year and he may also visit Beijing.
Zeman's ailing knee prevented him from delivering a speech at the Wednesday gala dinner for Czech and Chinese businesspeople.
He will be represented by Hynek Kmonicek, head of the Presidential Office foreign department, Burianova said.
Former president Vaclav Klaus will open the Czech-Chinese business forum this evening.
On Wednesday, speeches will be delivered by Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok, Foreign Minister Jan Kohout and chairman of the Association of Regions Michal Hasek.
After his election, Zeman said he would like to visit the economically strong countries, naming the BRICS group: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
As it is usual, Zeman's first foreign trip upon his election was to Bratislava. Later he flew to Vienna, Warsaw, Berlin, Brussels, Jerusalem and Kiev.
Next year, he plans to visit Russia.
CTK

Klaus may need Zeman's support more than vice versa - press. Prague, Nov 13 (CTK) - Current Czech President Milos Zeman and his predecessor Vaclav Klaus have traditionally backed up each other though they were often opponents, but now it seems that Klaus needs Zeman's support more than vice versa, political analyst Anna Matuskova writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.

Both men closed a mutually advantageous partnership long time ago and they have profited from it many times, says Matuskova, who participated in the campaigns of presidential candidate Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09 leader), beaten by Zeman, and the new ANO movement of Andrej Babis, which scored a great success in the October general election.
Matuskova reminds of the "opposition agreement" power-sharing pact from 1998, under which the Civic Democrats (ODS), then headed by Klaus, kept Zeman's Social Democrat (CSSD) minority government afloat in exchange for a portion of power. Klaus then became chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, replacing new PM Zeman in this post.
Klaus beat Zeman in the indirect presidential election in 2003 but ten years later, when Klaus's second and last five-year term as head of state expired, he openly supported Zeman in the first direct presidential election in January as the "only possible candidate," Matuskova recalls.
"At first sight it might look like that both men, who have been inseparably connected with the Czech political scene..., need each other. However, is it so?" Matuskova asks.
The January presidential election basically proved that Zeman, 69, does not need either Klaus, 72, or his support nowadays.
Klaus is not commenting on Zeman's presidency either, but he behaves and has ever behaved loyally to Zeman, Matuskova writes, asking what this loyalty can bring Klaus and whether it is personally useful for Zeman.
She recalls that in a recent interview, Zeman supported Klaus's possible candidacy for the European Parliament (EP).
Zeman's boosting Klaus in the EP elections to be held next May is very interesting mainly in view of their completely different approaches to the EU - Klaus has long been an eager Eurosceptic, while Zeman is a moderate supporter of European integration, Matuskova adds.
On the other hand, she says, Zeman and Klaus have many things in common.
They share similar views of foreign policy. Both are strongly pro-Russian. However, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Zeman openly sides with Israel and often takes a critical stance on Islamic fundamentalism. Klaus, for his part, does not comment on religious conflicts.
Besides, both politicians have similar relations to "their" original parties. Klaus helped found the ODS and headed it in 1991-2002, and the CSSD would not have become a dominant political force without Zeman (its chairman in 1993-2001). Both leaders abandoned their parties and a lot of their later steps had a completely destructive impact on them, Matuskova writes.
On the other hand, it is clear that the careers of Klaus and Zeman are in a completely different evolutionary phase now. While Zeman successfully re-started his career after an almost ten-year break, it is questionable whether Klaus can return to the political top, Matuskova writes.
She points out that Zeman as president has basically no reasons for being loyal to Klaus. Zeman's possible support to him may manifest that he is playing tactically and not underestimating Klaus.
Matuskova admits that Klaus is still a fruitful author but not one determining a clear direction and spirit in politics and Klaus's institute is active within the non-profit sector but his role remains marginal.
Klaus needs public and media attention most of all, she adds.
Matuskova writes that Zeman has still almost the whole five-year presidential mandate ahead of him, and thereby a chance of making many unexpected and often surprising political decisions in the top position.
On the other hand, Klaus, by his controversial New Year's amnesty and his behaviour in the following months, wasted a chance of leaving the political helm as a great statesman with a big political capital with which he could materialise further plans, Matuskova says.
"At present Klaus has no easily accessible public post in which he could significantly influence Czech society within his grasp. Unlike the past, his possible political comeback is not purely in his hands but possibly in the hands of his biggest rival and at the same time his political partner for two decades - Zeman. Now it is really fully up to Zeman whether he will see it beneficial for himself to revive Klaus's career," Matuskova writes.
She says Klaus's fate might also serve Zeman as an inspiration or a warning against what he should not do in politics. Nevertheless, Zeman's latest statements and acts do not indicate that he has learnt a lesson from his predecessor. Zeman remains a skillful politician but great deeds are rather credited to statesmen, Matuskova concludes in MfD.
CTK

 

 

 

 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture  Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is„ without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.“


alt

This news digest is selected and edited by the Czech Events Network


Tuesdsay, November 12,2013

CzechRep to give Philippines four million in humanitarian aid
Prague, Nov 12 (CTK) - The Czech Republic will give the Philippines, hit by a devastating typhoon four million crowns in an immediate humanitarian aid that will be sent to the Philippine Red Cross, Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman David Frous told CTK today.

Typhoon Haiyan killed over 1700 people and another 2500 were injured according to the Philippine authorities, which, however, estimate the real number of victims may be around 10,000.
The official data only speak about corpses found. Rescuers have not yet been able to reach some areas.
Czech charity organisations are collecting money for the Philippines. They are People in Need, ADRA, Charity Czech Republic and the Czech Red Cross.
Besides also some firms are contributing to the humanitarian aid.
New accounts have been opened by the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethern, the Czech branch of Doctors Without Borders and Magna Children at Risk.
The super typhoon hit the eastern part of the Phillipines four days ago leaving behind total destruction.
($1=20.157 crowns)
CTK

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 12 (CTK) - The court should reasonably justify the sudden release of former Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) regional governor David Rath, charged with extensive corruption, from custody after 18 months, Martin Weiss writes in daily Lidove noviny (LN) today
.

The prosecution of Rath drew attention to the use of custody and its conditions, which is probably Rath's most useful act in public life, Weiss says.
He adds that custody is no "preliminary punishment, it is neither just nor unjust, but it is either necessary or not.
Courts have decided on Rath's custody many times. At the beginning, they accepted all there reasons - that he could influence witnesses, escape or continue his criminal activities.
However with time only the risk of escape has remained. The High court shared this fear with the state attorneys in its resolution from August 22. What has changed since then? Weiss asks.
"In any case, we are curious about the justification. It should make sense," Weiss concludes.


Andrej Babis, leader of the ANO movement that may enter the nascent Czech government, has brought outsourcing to Czech politics, Petr Honzejk writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) today.
He says Babis will set out for a tour of Czech towns to find out what his voters actually want from him. Shall he enter the government or not? On which priorities shall he insist and which can he give up? Honzejk asks.
It seems that Babis has abandoned the traditional principle of democratic politics in which a party offers its programme to voters on the basis of which they either support it or not.
Babis actually admits that almost no one elected him over the programme. He succeeded in the polls as 20 percent of voters believed his slogan: "Yes, it will be better," Honzejk points out.
Babis has recently hired experts to advise him what to do with the country's economy. It is normal to use qualified advisers but if such experts are sent to TV, participate in public meetings and write to papers instead of ANO members, something is wrong, Honzejk says.
Babis has introduced the politics of outsourcing in the Czech Republic. Not he but "visitors to his roadshows" or hired experts are responsible for ANO's entry to the government. He is merely the owner. It seems so far that Babis is outsourcing everything. Even responsibility, Honzejk writes in conclusion.


A gentlemen's agreement is in the interest of both Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka and President Milos Zeman, Petr Novacek writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today.
He recalls that Sobotka, who is negotiating about a majority government coalition with ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), will meet Zeman at the presidential summer residence in Lany on Wednesday, after Sobotka's mandate to form a government and his candidacy for prime minister was confirmed by the CSSD's Central Executive Committee (UVV) on Sunday.
Novacek writes that the situation has developed differently than both Zeman and the CSSD expected.
Zeman's favoured Party of Citizens' Rights - the Zemanites (SPOZ) completely failed in the late-October general election. The CSSD, for its part, gained a much worse result than expected (20.5 percent), which did not enable it to form a leftist coalition, though it narrowly won the election.
Novacek writes that Zeman is a pragmatist and pragmatists care for their share in power primarily.
Besides, Zeman needs functioning relations with the CSSD and vice versa, the Social Democrats would like to have correct relations with the president, Novacek adds.
If Zeman is a leftist president and the CSSD a leftist party, good will should prevail at the Wednesday meeting in Lany as without a fair agreement Zeman would face isolation, Novacek writes.
hol/t

Czech hospitals, spas to get more money for treatments in 2014
Prague, Nov 12 (CTK) - The Czech Health Ministry will give more money to hospitals, out-patient surgeries and spas in 2014, Health Minister Martin Holcat said today when presenting a decree on payments for treatments and added that the sector will get 235 billion crowns, or ten billion more than this year.

Holcat said hospital bed facilities will get 4.2 billion crowns more next year than this year and out-patient specialists half a billion crowns more.
The growth in case of general practitioners and dentists will be minimal. They can negotiate more money with health insurance companies, he said.
Holcat also said a restriction of regulations will raise the incomes of all types of medical care.
"I think that from my point of view we have done the maximum possible to stabilise public health insurance," Holcat said.
He said this year's decree on payments for treatments affected mainly hospitals some of which have already started to postpone planned operations.
Holcat said deficits in the financing of hospitals directed by the ministry should be dealt with by the government, those of regional hospitals must be solved by regions.
The new decree compensates the deficits of spas and long-term care facilities with an increase in the payment per treatment day.
Holcat said he believes the decree is the best possible even though he is aware of that all will criticise it. But if all demands were to be met, the ministry would have to have 50 to 60 billion crowns more at its disposal, Holcat said.
He said it will be up to the next government to decide on whether it will continue to stabilise the system, or change the state budget and add more money for the persons for whom the state pays health insurance, such as pensioners, soldiers and children.
Hospitals, spas, long-term care facilities as well as private out-patient surgeries criticise this year's decree on payments for treatment. Hospitals threaten with a strike, out-patient surgeries with across-the board protests.
Dentists have warned that they will collect money from patients for fillings unless they get more money under the new decree.
The decree sets the lower level of the payments but insurers can pay more if individual types of care negotiate better prices with them.
($1=20.157 crowns)
CTK

Thousands of people want to enter Czech ANO party - press
Prague, Nov 12 (CTK) - The ANO movement of billionaire Andrej Babis, which scored a great success in the late-October general election and may enter a new government, has received some 7000 new applications for membership but it is to vet the applicants thoroughly first, Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes today.

At present no one has time to process the high number of membership applications since the ANO national committee, comprising its leadership and the regional organisations' heads, is very busy with other things after the elections, HN adds.
However, a meeting of 47 new ANO deputies and a broader leadership will deal with the inflow of new members as well as other issues at the weekend, HN says.
"It will debate the movement's further functioning, the admission of new members as well as the technical aspects of MPs' work - their duties, order of procedure and the Chamber of Deputies 's operation," ANO spokeswoman Radka Burketova said.
Babis and his political aides must now consolidate the party and secure that it survive its election success, HN writes.
"I would like an extraordinary congress to be held in January or February to elect an executive deputy chairperson who would have time and space to look after the movement," ANO first deputy chairwoman Vera Jourova said.
It would be a paid party official and this is why the ANO statutes must be changed, she added.
Jan Sedlacek, head of the ANO organisation in the Moravian-Silesian Region, said the applicants for party membership must be checked thoroughly.
"We must beware of extending too much. The people interested in membership will be first questioned in detail by the local organisations and the national committee will then carry out its own inquiry," Sedlacek said.
Jourova confirmed that the leadership would check some new applicants, HN writes.
On the other hand, ANO is also trying not to disappear from people's mind. This is why the movement has launched a tour of Czech towns to discuss its plans with voters.
On Monday Babis and other ANO leaders started the tour in Brno, the second largest town, and it will continue in the days to come, HN notes.
Babis dismissed the opinion saying it is just "political marketing." He told HN that he felt better among people than in TV debates.
Babis also said if the talks on a new government stagnated, he would complain about it to voters.
ANO, which gained almost 19 percent of the vote in the elections, is negotiating with the winning Social Democrats (CSSD; 20.5 percent), and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL; under 7 percent) about a government coalition. The three parties together command a 111-vote majority in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
"We will be telling the people that they should have voted for us, since we are united, we hold the line and do not quarrel," Babis told HN, hinting at the recent infighting in the CSSD.
CTK

Zeman not to assign Czech govt-forming talks to Sobotka Wednesday
Prague, Nov 11 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman today said he will not ask Bohuslav Sobotka, head of the election-winning Social Democrats (CSSD), to launch government-forming negotiations at their meeting on Wednesday, as he considers it reasonable to do so next week.

Zeman, who is temporarily confined to a wheelchair over a knee injury, will receive Sobotka at the latter's request in the presidential chateau in Lany, central Bohemia, on Wednesday.
Zeman told Impuls radio today that he may eventually appoint Sobotka prime minister-designate after he recovers and returns to work, which is early December.
"I'd consider it quite reasonable if it happened as early as next week, simply because the presidential mandate is a stronger card in the game, and I think Bohuslav Sobotka will need the stronger card, in view of the distribution of forces in the new Chamber of Deputies," Zeman said, referring to his plan to entrust Sobotka with government-forming negotiations.
Zeman won the Czech first ever direct presidential election this January.
He said today he will not set any deadline for Sobotka to complete the negotiations.
"I'll only tell him that if I were to appoint him prime minister, he would have to wait, as this is a rather dignified issue I cannot handle while on wheelchair," Zeman said.
He said he will gladly give more time to Sobotka.
The CSSD is starting government-forming talks with ANO, businessman Andrej Babis's new movement that ended strong second in the October 25-26 general election, and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) who re-entered the lower house of parliament after a three-year pause.
Commenting on the potential coalition, Zeman, former CSSD head and prime minister, agreed with the view that it is the least evil in the present situation.
He said the best solution would be a CSSD minority government, but it could only be formed if the CSSD had more than the 50 seats it has in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies. In the present situation a CSSD government kept afloat by ANO and the KDU-CSL would be "a very fragile and instable body," Zeman said.
If a coalition of the CSSD, ANO and the KDU-CSL were established, Zeman would like it to survive, he said.
He repeated that he wants the candidates for ministers to submit clean lustration certificates proving that in pre-1989 Czechoslovakia they were neither high communist functionaries, nor members of the communist para-military units or secret police (StB) collaborators.
Zeman said several legal analyses he has had worked out show that the lustration requirement is necessary.
A problem in this connection may be faced by ANO chairman Babis, who is seeking exoneration in court in Slovakia after it turned out that the StB kept his file as their collaborator.
In the past days, the launch of government-forming negotiations was delayed over a rift in the CSSD, also stemming from the post-election secret meeting that Zeman and several CSSD leaders held without Sobotka's knowledge.
"No conspiracy was discussed at the meeting in Lany," Zeman told Impuls radio today.
He said the five CSSD officials involved had asked him to receive them.
Similarly, he will meet Sobotka on Wednesday, Communist (KSCM) chairman Vojtech Filip on Thursday and outgoing caretaker cabinet head Jiri Rusnok on Wednesday, he said.
It was not the Lany meeting [on October 26] but its denial [by four of the five CSSD participants] that was a mistake, Zeman said.
CTK


 

 

 

 

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Monday,November 11,2013

Czech press survey
Prague, Nov 11 (CTK) - Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) leader Bohuslav Sobotka is only before the worst time, Lukas Jelinek writes in Pravo, analysing Sobotka's having defeated his party opponents, headed by former first deputy chairman Michal Hasek, at the weekend.
One can only guess how much Sobotka was backed by cheer luck in the past fortnight and how much by the Social Democrat youth and elderly organisations, by the rank-and-file in the regions as well as the party's central executive committee, Jelinek writes.

However, even the party's central executive committee will not fulfil all of his desires. The party's extraordinary congress, suggested by him, is not being planned, he adds.
If Sobotka really wants to capitalise on his current strength, he should not stop taking radical democratisation steps, including the use of the rank-and-file to back his vital decisions and the opening of a space for a fair competition of party factions, Jelinek writes.


Sobotka has a single try to form the government and it is clear that he has betted everything on the cooperation with agro tycoon Andrej Babis's ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), irrespective of whether a coalition or minority government will be the result, Martin Zverina writes in Lidove noviny (LN).
If he fails, he will have to face not only a congress where his steps will be rigorously scrutinised, but also President Milos Zeman choosing someone else for the second try, Zverina writes.
Sobotka's latest activity is neither illogical nor hopeless. He is backed by a party from which he can handpick his collaborators, only facing a president with a weakened political position and health, he adds.
However, these are the factors on which he cannot rely in the long run. In fact, a continuing cohesion of the ANO deputy group is rather doubtful, if not dubious, he adds.


Social Democrat putschists and President Milos Zeman have suffered a defeat, but it was only a battle and there is no doubt that the war will continue with hidden weapons, Karel Steigerwald writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD).
The sword of Damocles is hanging over Sobotka. If he fails to form the government, the party will call an extraordinary congress that will bring about his fall, Steigerwald writes.
Babis and Christian leader Pavel Belobradek do not have to be in the government, but Sobotka has to, he adds.
Sobotka cannot offer many concessions to the coalition partners, but he cannot fail to form the government either, Steigerwald writes.
One can hardly think of a more difficult position for political bargaining, he adds.
If the government is to be formed, Sobotka must give some concessions, but his opponents are eagerly waiting for them, Steigerwald writes.
Before the general public, Sobotka has already appeared in the uneasy position of a man who is directly responsible for the creation of the government. If the government does not emerge, an early election will come although no one wishes it at present and for which the Social Democrats would pay dearly, he adds.
Sobotka himself would only with difficulties explain to the public that neither him nor the Social Democrats are to blame for the collapse of the negotiations, that his inflexible coalition partners are the real culprits, Steigerwald writes.
CTK

Czech CSSD, ANO agree on number of lower house deputy heads
Prague, Nov 10 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrats (CSSD) and ANO movement, possible coalition partners in a nascent government, basically agreed today that the Chamber of Deputies should have four deputy heads but both parties are still striving for its chairperson's post, their leaders have said.

The parties' negotiating teams also touched upon the church restitution, that is the law on return of the churches' property confiscated by the communist regime, and the bill on civil service at a meeting on the outskirts of Prague that lasted about one and a half hours.
"I have a very positive feeling of the talks," CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka, leading his party's negotiators, said after the meeting.
The CSSD's team also includes deputy chairmen Lubomir Zaoralek and Milan Chovanec, Senate chairman Milan Stech and Senate deputy head Alena Gajduskova.
Members off the ANO negotiating team are party chairman Andrej Babis, deputy chairwoman Vera Jourova, ANO deputy group head Jaroslav Faltynek and Martin Stropnicky.u
The debate was very constructive and touched upon a number of issues on which both parties might agree, Sobotka noted.
The CSSD opened the church restitution issue at the meeting tonight.
Babis said the parties had agreed that the CSSD would submit a concrete proposal in this respect that ANO would assess then.
"In any case, the church restitution has come in a very unfavourable time when our country has naturally budget problems and it (restitution) must be examined," said Babis, adding that the church restitution law was passed under "strange circumstances."
ANO has been against any change to the church restitution scheme so far.
Under the law on state-church property settlement, which took effect in January, 16 churches are to get back over the next 30 years some real estate confiscated from them by the communist regime in 1948-1989, worth 75 billion crowns plus 59 billion in compensation for unreturned property. The sum plus inflation might reach up 94 billion crowns. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.
Babis today also welcomed that the CSSD had stabilised after its internal crisis and the negotiations were possible.
Babis, for his part, proposed a draft bill on civil service as a subject of debate.
Both parties can to a high extent reach consensus on anti-corruption proposals of the State Reconstruction initiative, the negotiators said.
The CSSD and ANO also set the schedule of their further talks. Their expert groups are to be meeting next week to discuss particular sectors. It should be clear by the end of the week in points they can concur.
The government negotiations could be fully launched only after today's meeting of the CSSD's Central Executive Committee (UVV) that cancelled the presidium's two-week-old resolution calling for Sobotka's resignation, condemned "the rebels" and confirmed him at the party's helm.
The CSSD and ANO will also negotiate with the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL). The Social Democrats, who would prefer a coalition government, plan to address the Christian Democrats on Monday.
The winning CSSD (20.5 percent), ANO, which ended second in the late-October elections with 18.7 percent, and the Christian Democrats (6.8 percent), who returned to the Chamber of Deputies after three years, together command a majority of 111 votes in the 200-seat lower house.
($1=20.077 crowns)
CTK

Czech CSSD gives Sobotka mandate to form government
Prague, Nov 10 (CTK) - The Czech Social Democrats' (CSSD) Central Executive Committee (UVV) today supported party leader Bohuslav Sobotka and confirmed his mandate as the head of the team to negotiate about a new government, Sobotka has announced.

The UVV cancelled the CSSD presidium's two-week-old resolution that called on Sobotka to resign and expelled him from the negotiating team.
Sobotka then refused to resign and called the steps by his party rivals "an attempted coup."
The decision to cancel the previous resolution was supported by a crushing majority of votes.
The UVV also adopted a new resolution condemning the steps taken by the "putschists."
"First, the Central Executive Committee, on the basis of the stances by local organisations and district and regional committees, expressed full support to the CSSD chairman and at the same time confirmed him as the head of the team negotiating about the government constitution," said Sobotka, whom the Social Democrats also confirmed as the party's candidate for prime minister.
The adoption of these resolutions will enable the CSSD to return to the negotiating table with other parties, Sobotka said.
The Social Democrats are to meet representatives of the ANO movement, which ended second in the elections closely trailing the winning CSSD, tonight, and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) on Monday.
KDU-CSL deputy chairman Marian Jurecka welcomed the CSSD UVV's decision today.
"I am glad that after two weeks the CSSD will finally start pushing for a well-functioning state," Jurecka told CTK, hinting at the CSSD's election slogan.
The UVV also decided that the CSSD extraordinary election congress would not be held for the time being.
It was Sobotka who proposed that an extraordinary congress be convoked in February over the party's poor election showing.
However, most Social Democrats agreed today that the party should primarily focus on the government formation. The UVV would vote on an extraordinary congress only if the negotiations on a new government failed.
Sobotka said he can understand the argument that it would be complicated to negotiate about a government and prepare the party's election congress simultaneously. Yet, he added, he is convinced that it could be managed.
The UVV did not accept the proposal for voting on the position of CSSD deputy chairman Milan Chovanec.
He was one of the five high-ranking CSSD officials led by then first deputy head Michal Hasek, who took part in a meeting with President Milos Zeman in Lany summer residence immediately after the late October early general election.
Chovanec is the only of the five rebels who he has not resigned from the leadership.
While the others denied having met Zeman first, Chovanec admitted it at once. Consequently, Sobotka backed him in the past few days.
After the secret meeting with Zeman the CSSD presidium called on Sobotka to step down as chairman and expelled him from the government negotiating team. However, Sobotka defended his position. The CSSD regional organisations also expressed support to him in the past days.
The UVV today also approved a call on the CSSD deputy group to unanimously strive for the utmost possible fulfilment of the CSSD's programme.
The postponement of the CSSD's congress will prolong the time when the CSSD must work without two deputy chairpersons, Hasek and Zdenek Skromach, who resigned this week after the "failed coup" to topple Sobotka.
"I cannot see it a problem to do without two CSSD deputy chairmen in this situation," Sobotka said, adding that this might last until the next congress.
New deputy chairpersons might be possibly also elected by an UVV meeting before the congress.
CTK

Czech charity NGOs collect money for typhoon-hit Philippines
Prague, Nov 10 (CTK) - Charity organisations in the Czech Republic have launched public fund-raising campaigns for the Philippines where a disastrous typhoon claimed at least 10,000 lives on Friday.

People can send financial gifts to special bank accounts of the ADRA, People in Need, Czech Charity and Czech Red Cross organisations that have also released money from their own funds in aid to the Philippines.
The Haiyan Typhoon, which might be the world's strongest typhoon on a continent, hit five central Philippine islands on Friday. It completely damaged the area. A number of towns and villages on the coast were razed to the ground by giant waves.
The Czech consul in the Philippines said he had no information about any Czech citizens among the casualties.
People in Need NGO has launched a fund-raising campaign for the Philippines and it has sent a coordination humanitarian team there to secure the victims' basic needs, Petr Stefan, from the NGO's media section, told CTK.
The team will have 500,000 crowns from the humanitarian fund at its disposal and the sum can be raised according to current needs, said Marek Stys, head of the People in Need humanitarian programmes section.
ADRA Czech Republic has released 100,000 crowns from its emergency fund and opened an account for public financial gifts for the Philippines.
ADRA's project manager for the Philippines is monitoring the situation on one of the afflicted islands now.
Czech Charity has earmarked 250,000 crowns for the Philippines from its emergency fund so far and people can also send money to its special account for the typhoon victims.
Humanitarian aid from Red Cross, consisting of blankets, tents and sanitary means, will be delivered to the spot today.
The international organisation has released 10.4 million crowns from its emergency fund for natural disasters, Czech Red Cross President Marek Jukl told CTK.
Red Cross has assisted in the evacuation of 125,000 people and provided material aid for 14,000 families so far in the Philippines, he added.
($1=20.077 crowns)
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Slovak neo-Nazi succeeds in regional election - press
Prague, Nov 11 (CTK) - Slovak neo-Nazi Marian Kotleba shadowed Prime Minister Robert Fico's Smer-Social Democracy's overall victory in the Saturday regional election by advancing to its second round with over 20 percent of the vote, Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today.

Four years ago, Kotleba was overwhelmed by the police and despite his fierce resistance forced into a police car and escorted to a prison cell, MfD writes.
Kotleba, who used to wear a black uniform, then faced a prison sentence for his appeal that Slovak nationalists should use the Na straz (On Guard) salute of the World War Two Hlinka Guards (HG), it adds.
The HG was a para-military force of war-time Slovakia, a satellite of Nazi Germany.
One year before, Kotleba's National Togetherness was dissolved and his career seemed to be over, MfD writes.
However, the viewers of the Slovak TA3 newscast channel could watch a different Kotleba a week ago, it adds.
In a well-fitting suit, he did not catch public attention by demagogic racist shouts, but by a few simple slogans such as the need to create jobs with the hundreds of million euros at the disposal of the regional budget, MfD writes.
"Instead of overpriced repair of roads in the region by the firms using a few machines, let us give work to thousands of people for the same money," Kotleba said.
"Those who want to work will get the jobs," he added.
The organiser of anti-Romany marches only sporadically spoke about Romanies, MfD writes.
The Banska Bystrica region, central Slovakia, has the highest, 25 percent proportion of Romanies.
"There are districts in which it is a real ordeal to live due to their social and ethnic composition," Kotleba said.
"I would not find a single person from Bratislava ready to move there," he added, naming several districts with a large proportion of Romanies.
Kotleba dismissed the notion that he was a racist.
"Those who do not work should not eat, irrespective of their being white, pink or black," he added.
Though suffering from a speech defect, Kotleba is no simpleton, MfD writes.
At the age of 36, he has just graduated from the second university, it adds.
With the use of various legal tricks he has been able to avert all attempts at the ban on his political work, he adds.
He scored his first political success in the regional election four years ago, when he gained 10 percent as a candidate for the post of Banska Bystrica regional governor.
This year, he doubled the number of his votes, outstripping Ludovit Kanik, the candidate of the opposition right, who only occupied the third place, MfD writes.
"Kotleba is the real winner of the election not only in the Banska Bystrica Region. For him, the result is an invitation card for parliament," said Kanik, a former Slovak labour and social affairs minister.
"This is a problem of the right," Fico said about Kotleba's success.
Leftist candidates for regional governors won the first election round in seven out of eight regions and three, all supported by Fico's party, were elected in the first round.
The second round of the regional governors' election will be held on November 23.
CTK

 

 

 

Czech North American Chamber of Commerce & Culture  Inc. uses the news service from the CTK Databases whose content has been protected by copyright. The transcription, spread or further accessing of this content or its part to the public, in whatever way, is„ without prior approval of CTK expressly forbidden.“


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This news digest is selected and edited by the Czech Events Network


Sunday, November 10,2013

Czech KDU-CSL wants its leader to be lower house deputy head
Havlickuv Brod, East Bohemia, Nov 9 (CTK) - The Czech Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) deputy group agreed at a meeting in Havlickuv Brod today that it would push for party leader Pavel Belobradek to be the Chamber of Deputies' deputy chairman, KDU-CSL deputy head Marian Jurecka has told CTK.

The Christian Democrats may be a coalition partner of the Social Democrats (CSSD), which won the late-October elections with 20.5 percent of the vote, and ANO, which ended second with 18.7 percent, in a nascent government.
The Christian Democrats gained 6.8 percent and returned to the Chamber of Deputies after three years.
The three-party coalition would together command a majority of 111 votes in the 200-seat lower house.
At a meeting in Havlickuv Brod, the Christian Democrats also discussed possible professional specialisation of their MPs and the areas they could focus on, KDU-CSL deputy chairman Jan Bartosek said.
"We have not been dealing with the concrete proposals for filling the posts in the Chamber of Deputies committees yet," he added.
Besides, outgoing Environment Minister Tomas Podivinsky (KDU-CSL) agreed with the party's deputy group that he would occupy the ministerial post in the interim government of Jiri Rusnok by the end of the year at the latest, Jurecka told CTK.
KDU-CSL and ANO 2011 representatives agreed on Friday that they would like the lower house to have four deputy chairpersons. They will also push for the number of the Chamber of Deputies' committees, sub-committees and commissions to be lowered.
ANO deputy chairwoman Vera Jourova said the movement would demand the post of the Chamber of Deputies's chairperson and the Christian Democrats took it into consideration.
CTK

Czech police, FBI detain suspected kidnapper in Prague
Prague/Los Angeles, Nov 9 (CTK) - Czech detectives in cooperation with U.S. FBI agents have detained a 34-year-old man, who is charged with having assisted in a brutal abduction, in Prague, the Czech Police Presidium's spokeswoman Ivana Jezkova told CTK today.

The foreigner was arrested at the Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague on Thursday and taken into a police custody.
Now a Czech court is waiting for extradition documents from the United States to decide whether the man could be extradited there.
The man is one of four suspects charged in the case with kidnapping, aggravated mayhem, torture, burglary and grievous bodily harm. All are being held without bail and face a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
According to the charges, they kidnapped the owner of a marijuana dispensary for medical purposes in California in October 2012. They tortured him with a blowtorch and cut off his penis in an attempt to force him to reveal where he had buried piles of cash in the desert.
The victim survived the attack by chance but he had to be hospitalised for long afterwards.
The man who allegedly masterminded the kidnapping scheme, Kyle Shirakawa Handley, was detained at the end of October last year and he has been in custody since then.
Two of the suspects, Ryan Anthony Kevorkian and Naomi Josette Kevorkian, were arrested in Fresno, California, on Friday.
On Thursday, the fourth culprit, Hossein Nayeri. was arrested in Prague.
Authorities said Nayeri had initially fled the United States to Iran for several months and was picked up by the FBI in Prague while trying to make an airline connection to Spain to visit family there, Reuters has reported.
Jezkova has confirmed the police raid.
The foreigner was detained by "headhunters," Czech detectives from the targetted search section of the Office of Criminal Police Service in cooperation with FBI which asked the Czech Republic for assistance, Jezkova said.
"The foreigner was placed in a police cell," she said, adding that he would probably be extradited to the United States within extradition court proceedings.
The arrest was smooth. "The foreigner was very surprised at the Czech police's reaction when being arrested," Jezkova said.
FBI agents were present during some procedural acts on the basis of the Supreme State Attorney Office's consent, she added.
An international warrant for the man'ss arrest was issued in the United States on suspicion of kidnapping, torture, grievous bodily harm and other crimes for which he faces a life sentence, Jezkova said.
The man is an Iranian national, Justice Ministry spokeswoman Stepanka Cechova said.
"Now we must wait for the extradition documents to be sent from the United States. A court will decide on their basis whether the extradition is admissible and submit the matter to the Justice Minister that will make the final decision," Cechova noted.
The U.S. authorities have a two-month deadline, counted since the man's arrest, for sending the respective extradition material.
CTK

Court receives 25 complaints about Czech general elections
Brno, Nov 9 (CTK) - The Czech Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) received 25 complaints about the October 25-26 early general election within the deadline that expired at 16:00 today, 11 were rejected and 14 are yet to be proceeded, NSS spokeswoman Sylva Dostalova has said in a press release.

The court will decide on the remaining complaints in 20 days at the latest, that is by November 29, she added.
Ten complaints were shelved without proceedings as they did not meet formal requirements and one was turned down by the court's resolution, Dostalova explained.
However, the number of complaints might not be final since it cannot be ruled out that some of them were sent in time but they were delivered to the NSS later.
The court does not release either the names of complainants or the content of the complaints.
Jiri Bezdek, from the Caucus of Independent Citizens, for instance, told CTK, that he had complained about the way of political parties' funding in the Czech Republic and the disproportional representation of them in the media.
The October election was won by the Social Democrats (CSSD) with 20.45 percent of the vote, followed by ANO 2011 (18.65 percent), the Communists (KSCM, 14.91 percent), TOP 09 (11.99 percent), the Civic Democrats (ODS, 7.72 percent), the Dawn of Direct Democracy (6.88 percent) and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL, 6.78 percent).
Under the law on elections to the Parliament of the Czech Republic, the NSS has the power to assess the invalidity of the election of a single candidate or candidates. A complaint must be filed within ten days after the election results are promulgated.
The court must decide on a complaint within 20 days.
Individuals and political entities can, for instance, propose that the election of a deputy be invalid if, in their opinion, its result was influenced by the violation of the election law.
The Constitutional Court has also received at least two complaints in connection with the October elections.
After the previous general election in mid-2010, the NSS received 45 complaints submitted in time. However, it met none of them like in the past.
CTK

SLOVAKIA

Left wing wins Slovak regional elections
Bratislava, Nov 10 (CTK) - The left wing Smer-Social Democracy (Smer-SD) of Prime Minister Robert Fico succeeded in the Saturday regional elections in Slovakia as expected, according to the results that the Slovak Statistical Office announced today.

The left candidates for regional governors won the first election round in seven out of eight regions and three, all supported by Fico's party, were elected in the first round. "Smer has won these elections," Fico said commenting on the results.
Smer-SD gained most seats in four regional assemblies, it ensues from the official results that the Central Electoral Commission confirmed later today.
Fico originally said that his party would have majority in six regional assemblies.
The right wing traditionally succeeded only in the Bratislava region where current governor Pavol Freso, head of the opposition right-wing Slovak Democratic and Christian Union-Democratic Party (SDKU-DS), won with 48 percent of the vote. It, however, did not suffice for defending his post in the first round.
Extremist Marian Kotleba, who in the past organised anti-Romany marches, surprisingly advanced to the second round in the Banska Bystrica Region.
Smer-SD candidates will be favourites in the second round of the regional governors' election to be held on November 23.
Its candidates won in seven out of eight regions in the previous regional polls in 2009 as well.
Election turnout was low as usual, only some 20 percent. In 2009 it was under 23 percent.
The regional polls were the first elections held in Slovakia since Fico's Smer won the early general election in March 2012, gaining over 44 percent of the vote, which enabled it to form a one-colour majority government.
Slovakia has eight self-governing regions.
Fico said in the spring their number might decrease to three like when Slovakia was part of Czechoslovakia, which split into the Czech and Slovak republics in 1993.
The regional self-governments annually decide on the distribution of some 1.1 billion euros in total. They are in charge of secondary schools, small hospitals, museums and theatres. Besides, they administer local roads and set regional bus fares.
CTK

Police prosecute Slovak state forests ex-director
Bratislava, Nov 9 (CTK) - Jozef Mindas, former director of the Slovak state forests company and the first Slovak co-winner of Nobel prize, is prosecuted on suspicion of breach of trust, Plus 7 dni weekly reported on its portal pluska.sk today.

Mindas won the Nobel Peace Price in 2007 as one of 2500 members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that is working out reports and analyses for the U.N. Former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore was awarded with the IPCC then.
According to the police, Mindas as director of the Lesy SR state forestry company traded in timber and thereby caused damage to the state property.
"The investigation has not been completed yet," police spokeswoman Petra Vaskova said, adding that one man was accused in the case.
If found guilty, Mindas faces up to 15 years in prison.
Despite it, he still occupies a high public post and he is a deputy rector at university, the weekly added.
Mindas has been heading the air meteorologists section of the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute (SHMU) since November 2011.
SHMU director Martin Benko says he cannot see a problem in Mindas's accusation.
The presumption of innocence is applied until Mindas is convicted, SHMU spokesman Ivan Garcar said, adding that the institute would not comment on the issue until a valid verdict were issued.
Mindas denies any guilt.
"I feel innocent and I believe it will be proved as well," the weekly quotes Mindas as saying.
CTK