Books on Czech Republic
% of GDP
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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.
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
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.
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.
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.