The Czech Republic’s gross domestic product fell by 5.5 percent year on year in the second quarter of 2009, according to revised government figures released on Tuesday. That is the largest quarterly decrease year-on-year in the country’s history, and one percentage point higher than a forecast from the Czech central bank. But the economy has also shown some slight signs of recovery, as it rose by 0.1 percent compared to the first quarter of this year. The biggest factor behind the plunge is the decrease in manufacturing industry output, which fell by 12.8 percent. Analysts believe that increased government spending in the second quarter of 2009 prevented an even greater fall in GDP.
In related news, the unemployment rate in the Czech Republic rose to 8.5 percent in August, which is the highest rate in over three years. Last August, the jobless rate was at 5.3 percent. In total, there are more than 480,000 people out of work in the country, according to data released by the government on Tuesday. The areas hit worst by the rising unemployment include the north Bohemian district of Most with over 16 percent and the northern Moravian district of Karviná with almost 15 percent. The lowest number of unemployed was registered in Prague, with 3.4 percent.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament revived at its session on Tuesday a Senate bill to amend the constitution and bring about early elections. MPs also shortened the procedure so that the amendment can be approved on the second day of the session. Under the new provision, the president would dissolve the Chamber of Deputies if requested by three fifths of MPs.
The Constitutional Court decided last week to postpone early general elections over a complaint from an independent MP. If it rejects the petition in a public hearing on Thursday, the elections will be held on October 9 and 10, as originally planned.
The Czech Republic and the Principality of Liechtenstein have established diplomatic relations. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout and his Liechtenstein counterpart, Aurelie Frick, signed a joint memorandum to that end in Prague on Tuesday. The two countries had not recognized each other over a dispute concerning the post WWII confiscation of property of the Liechtenstein family in former Czechoslovakia, particularly in Moravia. The country disowned property of almost all ethnic Germans but the principality argued that members of the family were Liechtenstein citizens. However, Ms Frick told reporters her country’s recognition of the Czech Republic did not mean the Liechtenstein family would drop its property claims. The Czech Foreign Ministry said that the only remaining two countries with which Prague has no diplomatic relations with are Bhutan and the Marshall Islands.
The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled on Tuesday that the state-owned Czech brewery Budějovický Budvar does not have an exclusive right to the Bud brand name which at the core of long-term disputes with the US firm Anheuser-Busch. The court said that EU legislation is superior to bilateral agreements, and the brand name is not registered in the EU list of protected products.
The ruling is related to a commercial court case in Austria, in which the Czech beer producer is demanding a ban on the sale of the American Budweiser. The Czech company claimed that a 1976 agreement between Austrian and Czechoslovakia protects the Bud brand name.
Novel The Glass Room, inspired by the Villa Tugendhat in Brno, by British author Simon Mawer, was nominated on Tuesday for the Man Booker Prize, awarded annually in the UK. The book describes the lives of a Christian-Jewish couple living in a fictional Mesto (meaning town in Czech). They have a modernist house built but eventually have to flee the house and the country to escape the Nazis, while the building remains to bear witness to historical events of 20th century Czechoslovakia.
The Villa Tugendhat, a UNESCO-listed world heritage site, is a masterpiece modern architecture. It was built in 1930 for Jewish entrepreneur Fritz Tugenhat and his wife Greta. Its current owner, the city of Brno, has long been unable to complete its much-needed renovation.
South Moravian wine makers expect that this year’s harvest could be one third lower than average, but thanks to sunny weather in August and early September, harvest can begin one or two weeks earlier than expects. Grapes also contain high volume of natural sugar, which means this year’s wine will turn out great.
The remaining Czech singles players at US Open have failed to qualify for the quarterfinals. Radek Štepánek succumbed to fourth-seed Novak Djokovič of Serbia, losing 1:6, 3:6, 3:6 on Monday. Petra Kvitová meanwhile failed to follow up on her sensational victory over world number one Dinara Sarina, losing to Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6:4, 4:5, 5:7.
Former decathlon champion Tomáš Dvořák was named the head coach of the Czech national track and field team. A triple world champion and world record holder between 1999 and 2001, retired in 2008 after he failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics.
Current clear conditions are expected to last for several days. Highest day temperatures should range between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius.
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