Daily news summary News

26-10-2009

Constitutional Court to hold hearing on Lisbon treaty

The Constitutional Court will hold a public hearing on Tuesday on the compatibility of the EU’s Lisbon treaty with the Czech constitution and Czech law. The court is addressing a complaint put forward by a group of right-wing senators last month. The senators have challenged that the treaty, which is aimed at reforming the running of the 27-member EU, will unduly limit Czech sovereignty through the transfer of power to Brussels. The Czech Republic is the only member country to not yet have ratified the document, although it was approved by both houses of Parliament. President Václav Klaus has conditioned his signing of the treaty to the country’s exemption from the Charter of Fundamental Rights (over fears the document could pave the way for property claims by the country’s former ethnic German minority, expelled after World War II). The Constitutional Court’s General Secretary Tomáš Langášek has said it is impossible to anticipate whether the court will issue a ruling on Tuesday or adjourn the ruling until a later date.

Czech Airlines remain in state hands

The Czech government has decided not to sell its majority stake in the national carrier, Czech Airlines. It based its decision on Monday on a recommendation by the Finance Minister Eduard Janota. The decision means that a 92 percent share in the troubled carrier will remain in state hands. The Czech-Icelandic consortium of Unimex/Travel Service was the only remaining bidder in the tender, after Air France-KLM dropped out. Czech Airlines has posted record losses this year, leading to a new CEO, Miroslav Dvořák, being named last week. He has negotiated wage cuts with the unions.

State attorney halts criminal prosecution in waste smuggling case

The Czech state attorney in Louny has stopped the criminal prosecution of nine suspects in connection with an illegal waste dump uncovered in Libčeves, north Bohemia, three years ago. Several thousand tonnes of waste, it was found then, had been illegally imported from neighbouring Germany. A spokesman for the state attorney’s office confirmed that overall 31 people had originally been investigated, including the head of the German firm suspected of damages. The Czech state attorney chose to drop further proceedings due to legal technicalities as well as after reviewing an assessment by the German authorities, the spokesman said.

Týden: government drops intention to sell Štiřín Chateau

The Czech weekly Týden has reported that the government no longer intends to sell the state-owned Štiřín Chateau (outside of the Czech capital). Under the previous government, the Foreign Ministry ordered expert assessment of the property at the cost of 600 thousand crowns, the weekly noted. The property is valued at 650 million crowns (around 38 million US dollars). Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiří Beneš told Týden that the sale of the property was no longer a priority, following the economic downturn. If the government opts to sell at a later date, a new assessment will be needed, an expert told the weekly.

Conservative Party shadow finance minister criticises Klaus

Kenneth Clarke, a highly-placed member of Great Britain’s Conservative Party as well as that party’s shadow finance minister, has criticised Czech President Václav Klaus over his reasoning on the Lisbon treaty. In the Sunday edition of The Times Mr Clarke said that the president’s assessment that the treaty could lead to property restitution claims by ethnic Germans - expelled from Czech soil after World War II - were “the most ridiculous he had heard”. Václav Klaus has demanded an exemption for the Czech Republic from the Charter of Fundamental Rights to address such concerns. Mr Klaus’s critics charge that the president, a strong opponent of “Lisbon”, has simply sought to delay ratification for as long as possible. In the past, the Conservative Party's head David Cameron said he would call a referendum on the Lisbon treaty if the issue had not been resolved by next year.

Medical Chamber: pharmacies should sell flu medicines containing pseudoephedrine only by prescription

The Czech Medical Chamber has recommended that pharmacies only sell flu and cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine through doctors’ prescriptions – reaction to current criticism by the Office for Personal Data Protection. Under regulations set by the State Institute for Drug Control, pharmacists are required to record personal information when it comes to selling medicines containing pseudoephedrine – a key ingredient in the production of the illegal drug pervetine. Pharmacists are also limited to selling 1,800 milligrams of such medicines per person, per month. The aim is to prevent abuse, such as the buying up in bulk, to curb illegal pervetine production. The Office for Personal Data Protection charged recently that the law on personal data is being broken, and called for sensitive personal data recorded by pharmacies to be esrased.

Dairy farms to pour out thousands of litres of milk to protest low purchase prices

The Agrarian Chamber has said that dairy farmers will pour thousands of litres of milk into selected fields on Thursday in protest of low purchase prices. A list of areas where the protests will take place will be released Tuesday, the head of the chamber Jan Veleba said. A representative for producers in southern Moravia confirmed that around one third of one’s day’s production in one area would be destroyed, with roughly 25,000 litres being poured into the ground.

Culture minister accused of threatening National Theatre performers during Velvet Revolution

In his then post of head of the opera section of the National Theatre, the Czech minister of culture, Václav Riedlbauch, may have threatened striking performers during the Velvet Revolution of 1989, Czech Television reported. The station said Mr Riedlbauch had threatened to fine, expel or even have imprisoned members of the theatre, backing up the assertion with a document from that time. The minister has refused to comment on the allegations.

Football: injured Baroš may travel to Germany for treatment

Galatasaray Istanbul striker Milan Baroš, who suffered a foot injury in the Turkish league on Sunday, may head to Germany for treatment. His agent revealed that he was negotiating treatment on the part of the player with German specialist Hans-Wilelm Muller-Wohlfarht, who in the past attended to Czech players such as midfielder Tomáš Rosický and striker Patrik Berger. According to reports, Baroš suffered a broken bone in his foot, meaning he will likely be out for the next six weeks.

Weather

Cloudy conditions with some periods of sunshine are expected into Tuesday; daytime temperatures should reach highs of around 11 degrees Celsius.

26-10-2009