Czech press survey - February 15


15.02.2014 13:10

Prague - Friday´s election of Anna Sabatova as new Czech ombudsman by the Chamber of Deputies is widely viewed as a defeat of President Milos Zeman, who had proposed another candidate, Stanislav Krecek, to the post, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in daily Pravo today.


Novou ombudsmankou bude bývalá zástupkyně veřejného ochránce práv Anna Šabatová (na archivním snímku). Poslanci jí podle informací ČTK dali 14. února v druhém kole tajné volby přednost před nynějším zástupcem ombudsmana Stanislavem Křečkem. ČTK Štěrba Martin, Fluger René

Sabatova´s success can also be understood as a triumph, though the narrowest possible, of Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and his allies in the CSSD over the CSSD lawmakers who do not share Sobotka´s view of policy as they side with Zeman, Mitrofanov writes.

There is a difference between Sabatova and Krecek, a former CSSD deputy. Sabatova considers ombudsman´s work as "open, accommodating and user-friendly for anyone who feels harmed by the authorities, even where no mistake has been made and where the ombudsman´s intervention is not mandatory," Mitrofanov writes, quoting Sabatova.

Besides, she is known for treating especially sensitively the cases where minorities are denied their rights, either social, ethnic or sexual, because a minority cannot effectively defend itself against wrongdoing, Mitrofanov writes.

Krecek, for his part, believes that focusing on minority rights is a mistake that leads to destabilising society and to the growth of extremism all over Europe, Mitrofanov writes.

The new Czech centre-left cabinet of Bohuslav Sobotka is lucky to come to power now that economic boom has "returned" to the country after several years of stagnation, decline and a very meagre growth, but the boom means a "sweet temptation" for the cabinet to waste money, Petr Kambersky writes in Lidove noviny (LN).

The previous right-wing cabinet made drastic structural changes in the state budget. It set the revenues and expenditures in a way to reach a surplus budget in a period of boom, he writes.

When Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) was finance minister (2002-2006), the economy grew 6 percent a year, but still the state borrowed huge sums [which caused the state debt to soar], Kambersky recalls.

At present, the PM and finance minister, Sobotka and Andrej Babis (ANO), respectively, should not borrow money for spending and they should strive for a surplus budget, like the neighbouring Germany which Sobotka presents as an example for Prague to follow, Kambersky writes.

Elsewhere in Lidove noviny (LN), Petr Pesek comments on the Brno assembly´s rejection of two key contracts as a step thwarting the U.S. online company Amazon´s plan to build a logistics centre in the city.

If completed, the logistics centre would have employed over 1500 people, which the Czech Republic urgently needs now that the unemployment has hit record levels, Pesek writes.

The completed project would have boosted the city´s revenues and it could also attract further investors, Pesek writes.

On the other hand, it would have a negative impact on local residents, as the neighbourhood concerned would turn into a transit area crossed by some 140 lorries a day, Pesek writes.

A solution would be if the Czech state built a road to link the site with the nearby D1 motorway. A former cabinet pledged to do so more than ten years ago, but nothing has happened, Pesek says.

The fresh proposal that the motorway exit be built by Amazon is charming but far from attractive for Amazon, Pesek writes.

Infrastructure secured by the host country is one of the basic incentives countries use to attract investors, he points out.

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