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CZECH REPUBLIC


 



Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 85,438 69,590 56,800 39
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 6,740 5,560 5,250 66
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Czech Republic

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
78,866

Population 
10,246,178 

Density 
(per sq.km) 
132.2

Capital 
Prague 

Currency 
Koruna 

President 
Vaclav Klaus

Private sector 
% of GDP 
80%



Update No: 110 - (27/07/06)

Impsasse after elections
The Czech Parliament is blocked after the elections in June. The right wing parties have won the same number of mandates as the leftists (100:100).
The chairman of the Civic Democrats (ODS) Mr. Topolanek, the premier designate, has chosen an eccentric way of organizing the government - he invited first the coalition partners (Christian Democrats and Greens) to create the government and after that as a second step he tried to get support from left parties. He failed in this. 
He is more and more losing his position as a possible Prime minister, and is pushed to make new compromises and steps towards possible agreement with leftists. 
The Social Democrats are sticking to the same position: "If you (ODS) announce yourself as winners - prove it!" It looks as if ODS has nevertheless not enough power to do so and is losing the battle. It means - new elections seem to be the only solution of the impasse. If it happens - ODS will probably slip back and lose.
Bluebirds and Tories for Euroscepticism - The Czech Civic Democrats (called Bluebirds 
because of the logo of the party) decided to launch the "Eurosceptic" faction in the European parliament, along with the British Tories of David Cameron. They are facing some problems however. They have not been able to settle the new Czech government after they gave the impression of winning the elections this June. That was one of the main reasons they had to ask Tories to postpone the deal until the period after the Euro-elections of 2009, three long years away.
The Tories on the other hand would be like to start the new Euro-faction as soon as possible because Cameron promised to do so, and this promise helped him to become the leader of the party. 
It might happen however that the faction will be organized soon because of developments in the Czech Republic. The ODS seem likely to be unable to form a viable coalition. At that moment they could open the Euro-sceptic card again.

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The Czech Republic has attracted over US$20bn in foreign investment, much of it in or near Prague. But it is also a magnet for tourists from all over the world.

As an unsurpassed tourist attraction 
One of Shakespeare's best-known gaffes is when in The Winter's Tale he situates a scene in 'Bohemia by the Sea.' The Czech Republic, modern Bohemia, is of course a landlocked country in the centre of Europe. It is a country of varied natural beauty, living legends and traditions, and historical monuments that reflect rich and strange times gone by. 
The legacies left behind include in Prague alone monuments dating as far back as the Romanesque era, Gothic cathedrals, Baroque churches and palaces, ornate Renaissance houses and summer residences, fine examples of Cubist architecture, Synagogues of various styles, Art Nouveau coffee shops, and winding cobblestone streets. 
Though Prague might be the first choice for travellers seeking intriguing destinations in the Czech Republic, the other regions of the country should not be missed. The open landscape is scattered with castles, historical ruins, and chateaux. 
The most distinguished people of European and world science and art have left their permanent mark on the country's history. Mozart, Kafka, Goethe, Einstein, Beethoven and Casanova are only a few of the famous citizens who were associated with the Czech lands. 
Apart from the capital Prague, the Czech Republic has eleven other locations on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

The beer industry
One way that the Czechs are keen to boost tourism is by cultivating their well-deserved reputation as beer producers and as the inventors of lager. Many consider their beer to be the best in the world and the Czechs drink more beer than any other people in the world, an average of one bottle a day for everyone in the country.
The idea is to promote the beer tour around the country for aficionados, much as the French and Tuscans do wine tours. Beer-brewing goes right back to the Middle Ages and one can drink straight from the caves of micro-breweries all round the country. The beers drunk in situ are incomparably superior to bottled beers, especially those exported. The flavour and aroma deteriorate rapidly in transit. One can also take beer baths, which are very good for the skin, purging it of impurities. Whether for bibulous or medicinal reasons there is much to be said for the Czech beer tour.
Chodovar, Stramberck and of course Pilsner are the names to conjure with here. But there are many more strung out over a beautiful countryside where the country fare can be delicious.
The republic had six million visitors last year. But this is likely to rise considerably, as more and more people come to realize the varied attractions of this jewel of a country in the very heart of Europe.

Czech PM favours EU-level talks on cutting excise taxes to combat rising energy prices
With energy prices continuing to rise across Europe, the EU should consider opening a discussion on ways to cut energy excise duties, outgoing Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek told Interfax in an exclusive interview on July 21.
"The European Union adopted common rules for a functioning energy market, which are valid for all members," Paroubek said. "The relevant EU directives determine the basic principles of [how the market functions], including regulation, customer protection and energy firms' behaviour and the member states must respect these rules.
"On the other hand, it is true that all EU countries are battling rising prices of oil and natural gas..." Paroubek added. "The sensible step forward would be to open a discussion within the EU on cutting excise duties." The EU has established minimum excise duty rates for energy products and electricity, which are mandatory for all EU members, and in this sense there is still room in the Czech Republic for some reduction in fuel and diesel oil excise duties, the Prime Minister said.
Paroubek, whose Social Democrats (CSSD) narrowly lost the Czech Republic's June elections, echoed remarks made by Slovakia's new prime minister, Robert Fico, who suggested that cutting excise duties was one option to deal with rising fuel prices.
However, according to Paroubek, when it comes to reducing excise taxes in the Czech Republic, two things have to be kept in mind - the affect on the state budget such a cut would entail, as well as the Czech Republic's commitments to the EU.
"Any reduction in excise duties must be reviewed from two aspects - whether such a cut is acceptable for the state budget and whether or not it is at variance with the Czech Republic's EU entry commitments," Paroubek said.
Considering the situation on global energy markets, Paroubek does not expect energy prices to fall any time soon.
"We can expect that in line with global developments, energy prices [in the Czech Republic] will continue to grow in the future," said Paroubek. "We are dealing with similar problems as the rest of Europe - growing electricity, gas and oil prices.
"The Czech Republic, along with the rest of Europe, is seeking viable solutions," he added.
In 2004, the Czech government adopted the State Energy Conception, charting a basic direction for energy strategy through 2030, Paroubek noted.
"The state plan emphasizes the use of domestic energy resources, along with renewable energy resources, and focus on efficiency, and conservation."
Meanwhile, Paroubek expressed scepticism that privatisation of CEZ, the country's dominant energy producer, would lead to lower prices. "Anyone who thinks that privatization of the state's majority stake in CEZ would contribute to lower prices of electricity is deeply mistaken," said Paroubek.
CEZ is a joint stock company, where the state controls a majority 67% stake. The rest is in the hands of private investors. The firm at present holds an important position on the Central and South East European market, comparable with similar energy giants operating within the European territory, the Prime Minister explained.
"CEZ is a healthy, strong company with a further growth potential, necessary for securing reliable energy supplies to both citizens and the economy," said Paroubek.

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FOOD & DRINK

Ambra gains control of Soare Sekt 

Polish wine producer and distributor Ambra has reportedly gained full control of the Czech Republic's Soare Sekt. According to agency reports in Poland, Ambra paid US$2.7 million for the remaining 40 per cent stake in Soare Sekt, the second-largest wine group in the Czech Republic, website just-drinks.com reported. 
The report said Ambra had moved to take full control of Soare Sekt as wine consumption in the Czech Republic is double the rate in Poland. Ambra, which also has a presence in Slovakia and Romania, is the leading producer of sparkling wines, table wines, vermouth, cocktails and non-alcoholic sparkling juices in Poland and Eastern Europe.

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NUCLEAR ENERGY

More nuclear power plants needed 

The Czech Republic needs more nuclear reactors as only nuclear technologies can cover growing demand on energy in the decades to come, Dana Drabova, the chairwoman of the State Authority for Nuclear Safety (SUJB), said on June 13th at the energy industry congress CEPKON, New Europe reported. 
The state energy concept agrees that electricity consumption in the Czech Republic will rise by 50 per cent from the current situation after the year 2020. Drabova conceded that nuclear energy is not a long-term solution for the Czech Republic or other countries because global uranium reserves will last for the current 443 active nuclear reactors for some 100 years. "A time will come when reserves of fossil fuels will be exhausted as well, and in the end there will be nothing else than renewable energy sources. However, we have no technologies for their effective use. 
I therefore claim that nuclear energy gives us time," Drabova added. At the moment, nuclear technology is the cheapest energy source. Construction of a nuclear power plant costs more money than comparable coal-fired or gas power plants, but investments into fuel and the overall operation are cheaper. Nuclear energy contributes 35 percent of the overall EU consumption. In the Czech Republic the amount of the electricity produced in the nuclear power plants Dukovany and Temelin contributes a third to the country's electricity consumption. The state energy concept agrees that the ratio should be the same also after 2030.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Telecom, Eurotel to merge into Telefonica O2 

The fixed-line operator, Cesky Telecom, and its mobile arm, Eurotel, plan to merge under the name Telefonica O2 Czech Republic, representatives of the companies told the website www.praguemonitor.com. 
Telecom and Eurotel will not be independent legal entities after the merger. However, their brands will continue to appear on the market for a couple of months. Cesky Telecom CEO, Jaime Smith, said that most of the re-branding for the merged unit should be completed by the end of the year. However, the company does not expect to use the Eurotel brand at any time in the future. In the first year of its existence, the new company will merge sale and customer care; in the second year it will further focus on the domestic market segmentation and in the third year on IT integration. The merged unit expects its revenues and profits this year to remain at the 2005 level. The cost of the merger should have no impact on the results. Smith said that the staff numbers will depend on the results and situation on the market. Earlier he said the company would continue layoffs if its revenues decrease. Telecom and Eurotel employ some 10,000 staff altogether. Telefonica of Spain bought Cesky Telecom from the Czech government for 82.6 billion crowns in 2005, and now controls 70 per cent of the company. Telecom is a sole owner of Eurotel.

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