Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer said that the growth of Czech economy might be higher than expected, the Bloomberg news agency reported on Sunday. Speaking during his official visit to Hong Kong, Mr Fischer said that in 2010, Czech economy might grow by about 0.5 percent and that in the following years, Czechs could see “the light at the end of the tunnel”. The Czech prime minister noted that compared to other countries in the region, the Czech Republic has a sound banking and financial sector with no toxic assets. Mr Fischer also said he was confident that his government would approve next year’s state budget despite the current political crisis over the postponed general elections.
Experts nominated by Czech parliamentary parties failed on Sunday to agree on an alternative date for early general elections. Social Democrats push for a change to the constitution that would allow holding the elections on October 9 and 10, as originally planned. But experts from other parties believe such an amendment could again be refuted by the Constitutional Court. The court decided on Thursday to postpone the elections over a complaint from unaffiliated deputy Miloš Melčák. He claims the constitutional amendment by which the Chamber of Deputies shortened its term had violated his right to execute his mandate for four years.
Leaders of six strongest political parties and the heads of both chambers of Parliament will meet on Sunday night to discuss a joint strategy concerning the issue of early elections.
In related news, the chairman of the Constitutional Court, Pavel Rychetský, told Czech TV on Sunday that it was not certain that the Court decides on Thursday on whether early general elections can be held as planned. The court is set to hold a public hearing on Thursday about Mr Melčák’s complaint. Justice Rychetský said that the court is acting unusually fast and it might therefore take longer to decide on the complaint. If the complaint is rejected, the elections would be held as originally planned.
Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek told Czech TV on Sunday that the Czech Republic might lose its EU commissioner if it fails to ratify the Lisbon treaty by mid October. According to the Swedish presidency of the European Union, the new European Commission will be formed under the Nice treaty if the Lisbon treaty is not ratified by that time. Mr Paroubek called on the Civic Democrats to avoid further delays with the ratification of the reform document.
The Lisbon treaty was approved by both chambers of the Czech Parliament earlier this year. However, President Václav Klaus has refused to put his signature to it. He said he would wait for a group of Civic Democrat senators to petition the Constitutional Court to see whether the document is in line with Czech law. The senators said they would file the petition in early October.
Some Czech farmers and agriculture firms are on the verge of collapse due to the economic crisis and low market prices of milk and wheat, according to a survey by the ČTK news agency released on Sunday. Both small farmers and larger companies often owe money to their suppliers and are unable to pay their credits. Fruit growers report that their revenues will be lower by tens of millions of crowns this year, and financial difficulties have also hit Czech wine makers.
Market prices of wheat are about fifty percent lower than last year and farmers keep most of this year’s harvest in the barns. Agriculture firms also have to sell milk at prices lower than production costs.
A 31-year-old amateur footballer died on Sunday during a game outside Kladno, central Bohemia. The likely cause of death is heart failure. After scoring an own goal, the footballer fell to the ground and lost conscience. All attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Custom officers seized 250 sacks of counterfeited goods at several border area markets outside the town of Znojmo, southern Moravia, on Sunday. Their sale would cause a loss of tens of millions of crowns to the owners of the copyrights, a spokeswoman for the Brno customs department said. Among other things, the officers confiscated counterfeit clothes, shoes, accessories, watches, perfumes and DVDs.
A group of enthusiasts set out on Sunday on a 20,000 km long journey from Prague to Cape Town. They are driving two Trabants, lightweight vehicles that were produced in former East Germany. Leader of the expedition Dan Přibáň said they want to prove that it’s possible to cover the journey in cars with no special equipment. They are expected to arrive in South Africa in two months. The Trans-Trabant expedition will retrace the journey two Czechs made from Prague to Cape Town in 1931.
The Czech Republic drew 2:2 against Slovakia in Bratislava on Saturday in the tightly contested qualification Group 3 of the World Cup 2010 in South Africa. The Czechs had a very good start but did not convert any of several opportunities. Slovakia’s Stanislav Šesták opened the score after 60 minutes of play, but Czech Republic’s Daniel Pudil managed to equalize eight minutes later. Marek Hamšík put Slovakia ahead again with a 73rd minute penalty before Czech substitute strike Milan Baroš headed home with six minutes left to deny the Slovaks victory.
Saturday’s game was also the last appearance by veteran striker Jan Koller, who was disappointed with his performance and left the Czech national side.
While Slovakia stays at the top of the qualification group with 16 points and could qualify for its first major tournament, the Czechs remain fifth with nine points and still hope to finish second and reach the play-off stage.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová marked the biggest success of her career on Saturday after she beat top-seed Dinara Safina from Russia 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 in the 3rd round of US Open. The Czech, who is currently ranked 72nd in the world and is the Czech Republic’s number four, fended off three match points the world’s number one Safina had in the third set. The match did not begin until 10:15 pm local time due to a late-running afternoon session. Petra Kvitová told reporters that beating the world’s number one at a Grand Slam event was “brutal”.
Current clear conditions are expected into the next week, with occasional morning fogs. Highest day temperatures should range between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius.
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