Another issue for the Czech Republic at the summit is a deal framing future EU supervision of the financial sector. The Czech National Bank earlier this year came out against draft plans for this new supervision saying they were muddled and infringed on national regulation. The new rules are aimed at preventing a repeat of the financial meltdown that led to the world economic crisis. The Czech government has warned that it is prepared to fight on this issue. It said on Wednesday that its priority is for a high quality rather than a quick deal on financial regulation.
The Czech Republic’s biggest exporter, car producer Škoda Auto, announced a 67.5 percent drop in net profit during the first three quarters of the year compared with the same period in 2008. Net profit totalled 2.8 billion crowns for the nine months ending September against 5.8 billion in 2008. Sales of cars have fallen 5.0 percent year-on-year with total turnover down 13.0 percent at 137.6 billion crowns. There was however some encouragement from the third quarter. Car sales totalled 174,984, a 6.4 percent jump on 2008.
Thousands of dairy farmers across the Czech Republic poured milk down drains and onto fields on Thursday to protest the low prices they are being paid. The protest organised by the Agricultural Chamber aimed at disposing of around half a million litres of milk, or around 7.0 percent of daily production. Farmers say they are being paid just over five crowns a litre for milk, around half of the price they need to break even. Potato growers also joined some demonstrations. They say land devoted to potato cultivation has fallen by 20 percent over the last decade because of insufficient support.
EU leaders started a two-day summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday. One
of the major tasks facing them is to discuss a last minute demand for an
exemption from part of the EU’s reforming Lisbon treaty sought by Czech
President Václav Klaus. President Klaus wants firm guarantees that the
treaty can not be used by Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after World
War II to reclaim property. Diplomatic sources told the Czech News Agency
that a deal on the exemption should be thrashed out on Thursday evening.
But Hungary, which has opposed the exemption, says it will decide on its
final stance during the summit.
The Czech Republic is the last of the EU’s 27 to ratify the Lisbon treaty which should take effect at the start of next year. Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer said on Wednesday that President Klaus had given guarantees he will not erect new barriers to ratification if his exemption is delivered and the country’s highest court gives it the all clear. The Czech Constitutional Court is expected to rule on Tuesday over a complaint about whether the Lisbon treaty is in conformity with Czech law.
In ice hockey, there have been some big managerial changes in the league. Sparta Prague have sacked the managing tandem of Pavel Hynek and František Výborný. Výborný is heading to České Budějovice where first team coach Jan Tlačil has been sacked from his coaching post. The two teams have had poor results since the start of the season. Sparta lies ninth and České Budějovice tenth in the 14-strong league.
Prime Minister Jan Fischer told journalists in Prague on Wednesday that President Klaus had assured him in person he would sign the Lisbon treaty if the Constitutional Court ruled it was in line with Czech law and if the Czech Republic was granted an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights attached to the treaty. The opt-out is to ensure that Germans expelled from former Czechoslovakia after WWII cannot seek to reclaim their property in European courts. Mr. Fischer said that the president has assured him he would have no other conditions and would not further delay the treaty’s ratification.
A ČSA plane bound for Ljubljana, Slovenia was forced to turn back for an emergency landing at Prague’s Ruzyně Airport on Wednesday due to technical problems. The plane carrying twenty passengers and four crew turned back just 15 minutes after takeoff due to a suspected oil-leak in one of the motors. Although firefighters and ambulances were on standby, the plane landed safely on the airport’s main runway.
The Czech Association of Freedom Fighters has come out strongly in support of President Klaus’ demand for an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights attached to the Lisbon treaty. The association’s chairwoman Anděla Dvořáková warned against the growing influence of Sudeten Germans in the border regions, saying that the Czech president was right to be concerned about potential property law-suits. Ms Dvořáková said the president was to be thanked for defending the country’s interests and slammed the former government for not doing its job properly.
Celebrations and commemorative events have been held around the country to mark the 91st anniversary of the founding of an independent Czechoslovak state in 1918. Leading politicians, members of Parliament, cultural figures and war veterans attended a traditional ceremony at the national memorial on Prague’s Vítkov Hill, paying homage to those who fought for the country’s independence and contributed to its development. Among those present were the Czechoslovak Union of Freedom Fighters and the Union of Czechoslovak legions.
Unknown vandals are reported to have damaged a memorial to Holocaust victims in the town of Teplice. A spokesman for the local Jewish community said he had found the memorial covered with spray paint on Wednesday morning. There were no abusive inscriptions. Police investigating the incident say it is not yet clear if the act was racially motivated. The memorial was raised on the site of a former synagogue burned down by the Nazis. Some 5,000 Jews formed ten percent of the town’s inhabitants before WWII. Most of them died in concentration camps.
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