Press review

06-11-2003

The European Commission's Monitoring Report on the candidate states is the top story on all front pages with the papers featuring a list of the European Commission's main objections. The general tone though is upbeat with the papers commenting on how the Czech Republic had improved its position in recent years. "Today's report is a very nice B plus" reads the lead headline in Mlada Fronta Dnes.

The need to replace the country's aging fighter jets has been a task fraught with problems, Pravo writes. Paradoxically, the fact that the Czech government has now received some lucrative offers has not made things any easier. Sweden's unexpected offer of new fighter jets for the price of used planes has clearly thrown US officials, who -according to a well informed source- had been certain that the Czech Republic would accept their offer of used F 16 or F 18 jets, the paper says.

Sweden's smart business tactic came like a bolt from the blue - both for the Americans and for the Czech government, Pravo notes. Czech officials are now on thin ice. They fear that if they accept Sweden's lucrative offer the United States could turn a cold shoulder and in future prefer to support activities in other Eastern block states.

All the papers have noted the fact that the Lower House of Parliament on Wednesday voted against a proposed increase in funds for the President's Office. Government MPs have now got their own back for the president's earlier criticism of how poorly they handle finances, says Mlada Fronta Dnes.

Clearly this is not just idle speculation. Petr Rafaj of the ruling Social Democrats told the paper "The President lectured us about financial responsibility and not squandering money - so let him put his own house in order first". The paper notes thought that the additional twenty five million crowns was needed for maintenance of historical buildings. In this case it is not the President's table and employees which will go short - the paper says, since wages at Prague Castle are expected to rise steeply regardless of this decision.

Lidove Noviny reports that according to the German intelligence service there are Al Qaeda terrorists operating on the grounds of the Czech Republic, Belgium, Denmark and Britain as well as Germany and the United States. Contacted by the daily, interior Minister Stanislav Gross expressed surprise that, if this were indeed the case, the Czech Intelligence Service had not been warned by Germany. The Czech Intelligence Service cannot confirm these findings, he said.

06-11-2003