Tuesday’s edition of the business daily Hospodářské noviny reported that Russian power company Tvel wants to build its first foreign plant for producing nuclear fuel rods in the Czech Republic. The paper described the daughter company of state-owned group Rosatom as wanting to better place itself for further expansion in Western Europe and to get key Czech contracts. It adds that Rosatom is the favourite to clinch a multi-billion crown contract to build two new nuclear blocks at the Temelín plant in South Bohemia. The Czech Republic is largely dependent on imports of Russian gas and oil with further reliance a sensitive issue. Tvel already supplies fuel rods to Czech power giant ČEZ.
The Czech Republic and Austria signed an agreement on Tuesday over how their different types of forestry management could counter the spread of the timber-damaging bark beetle. The two sides have literally been at loggerheads with the Austrians criticising the Czechs for their policy of leaving some parts of forest along the border to rot and rejuvenate naturally. They say this has promoted the beetle’s spread. Under the agreement signed by Czech environment minister Ladislav Miko and his Austrian counterpart, Nikolaus Berlakovich, the two sides agreed to monitor the state of the forest and spread of the beetle on both sides of the border. A 200-metre wide protection area will also be introduced at certain points along the border where rotten trees will be removed and natural enemies of the beetle encouraged. In addition, the Austrians pledged not to leave bald patches of forest which result in damage to Czech trees during storms.
Some European leaders have reacted negatively to President Klaus’ Lisbon treaty demand. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov described it as impossible to accept or tolerate during a visit to Paris on Monday. He said French President Nicolas Sarkozy shared the same view. A spokesman for the Austrian Foreign Ministry said it was still seeking clarification about what President Klaus was asking for, but if he wanted changes to the Lisbon treaty then that was out of the question.
Czechs are less happy with the political situation in this country than they have been since the last elections in 2006, a poll conducted by the CVVM agency and released on Monday suggests. Some 69 percent of respondents said that they were unhappy with the current political situation, while only five percent said they were satisfied, the poll found. According to CVVM, Czechs have most trust in the president of the republic, followed by the government. Worst in the poll fares the lower house of the Czech Parliament, which enjoys a trust rating of only 14 percent. The Czech Senate came off only marginally better, with a trust rating of 18 percent.
The Czech government will continue to lobby for the headquarters of the Galileo European Satellite System to be established in the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Jan Fischer said on Monday. The Galileo Supervisory Authority was set up as an EU agency in 2004. It is currently based in Brussels. A final decision on the agency’s relocation will be made next year. The Czech Republic is competing with the Netherlands to house Galileo HQ. The satellite system is expected to be put into operation properly in 2013. Mr Fischer pledged his government’s support to the project, which would see Galileo ground control based in the Czech Republic, after a cabinet meeting on Monday morning.
At the Forum 2000 human rights conference in Prague on Monday, Václav Havel criticized the recently-decorated Nobel peace prize winner Barack Obama for refusing to receive the Dalai Lama until after a state visit to China in November. In his speech, the former Czech president praised the way the world had developed in the 20 years following the fall of the Iron Curtain. He complained, however, that Western society prized economic growth above all else, with human rights being just the ‘cherry on the cake’ in today’s world. Forum 2000, which was co-founded by Mr Havel in 1997, runs until Tuesday.
Czech industrial output slid in August by 8.4 percent year-on-year, the Czech Statistical Office said on Monday. This was the slowest decrease since October 2008, statisticians said; in July, output fell at an annual rate of 18.2 percent. The improvement in figures was due to a pick-up in car production, which grew by 17.7 percent year-on-year in August. Analysts said that last month’s figures looked ‘promising’, but warned that output may fluctuate further over the months to come. In August, industrial sales fell by 12.7 percent against a year ago while the value of new orders was 13.6 percent lower as the global downturn continued to take its toll.
Greenpeace activists scaled the roof of the Czech Republic’s government offices on Monday to protest against proposals to reshape the country’s energy policy. They were later removed by police. According to the activists, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s proposals could see the limits set on coal mining in the Czech Republic reassessed. Two years ago, locals in the towns of Horní Jiřetín and Černice voted against the liquidation of their towns, while Czech Coal said it was willing to invest up to 22 billion crowns (1.3 billion USD) into the excavation of the area. Industry and Trade Minister Vladimír Tošovský is proposing that the government prevents a gas crisis this winter by mining more Czech coal and building more nuclear power plants.
Leader of the Social Democrats Jiří Paroubek, meanwhile, has defended President Václav Klaus’s current stance on the Lisbon treaty. Speaking on Monday, Mr Paroubek said that lawmakers seeking to impeach the president for his failure to act either didn’t understand, or were in blatant breach of, the country’s Constitution. The Constitutional Court is currently reviewing the Lisbon treaty at the request of a group of right-wing senators allied to President Václav Klaus. Mr Klaus has said that he will not sign the treaty until the court has reached a verdict, and has recently added that he wants the Czech Republic to be awarded an opt-out from the treaty before he puts his signature to the document. On Monday, Mr Paroubek said that it was in the interest of Lisbon ratification that lawmakers did not bring an impeachment case against the Czech president, and that such a move would have damaging consequences for Czech society.
Czech school children participate in the most out-of-school activities in Europe, a survey commissioned by GE Money Bank has found. Czech children spend between five and eight hours a week in sports and other hobby clubs, which is almost double the amount of time their counterparts in Germany, France and Slovakia spend on such activities. The only European nation in which children are nearly as active is Great Britain, the survey suggested. American and Australian children topped the list, spending between nine and 12 hours in out-of-school activities a week. The survey found that extra-curricular clubs were particularly cheap in the Czech Republic, costing around a third of the price of their counterparts in the United States and Australia.
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