09-03-2001

The leading story in today's Czech dailies is the controversy over a proposed resolution submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Commission by the Czech Republic. Under the headline "Discord Between the USA and Czechs Over Cuba" today's LIDOVE NOVINY writes that every year the Czech Republic submits a resolution criticizing the violation of human rights in Cuba, a resolution that was always passed without any protest, except from the Cubans themselves.

But this year, for the first time, the Czech proposal also criticises the United States' economic sanctions against Cuba as ineffective. The addition has already caused Poland, which was the co-initiator of past resolutions, to withdraw its backing a few days ago, and then, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, told Congress that his government has a problem with this anti-sanctions amendment and that it would find it difficult to back the Czech proposal.

In an interview for LIDOVE NOVINY, Ivan Pilip, the Czech MP who was recently detained in Cuba for his contacts with Cuban dissidents, stresses that any worsening of relations between the Czech Republic and the United States could degrade the Czechs in the eyes of Cuban dissidents.

And the paper's commentator, Radek Honzak, goes even further when he writes that discord in discussions over the resolution will, in the end, help Fidel Castro.

Yesterday's International Women's Day is mentioned in some of the Czech dailies, mostly with stress on the fact that it was practically ignored in this country. On its fourth page, today's PRAVO publishes a photo of one of the participants at the one and only Women's Day rally in Prague, where the handful of participants were mostly young left- wing students. The caption reflects the general attitude when it speaks about the former International Women's Day.

And another daily, MLADA FRONTA DNES, on its tenth page has a picture of a group of elderly, not exactly slim ladies in bathing costumes with an article about celebrations of the women's holiday in contemporary Russia. The international holiday was not an occasion for the Czech papers to deal with the problems of Czech women.

The problems of Czech students are dealt with in greater detail in today's papers, namely their drug-related problems. Both PRAVO and MLADA FRONTA DNES refer to a World Health Organization report published in February, which states that drug abuse among 15- and 16-year-old Czechs rocketed over the course of five years. With 35 percent of 15- and 16-year-olds admitting to having experience with drugs, the Czech Republic is the second worst country in Europe for teenage drug abuse, just 1 percent behind the leader, Great Britain.

PRAVO quotes a doctor from Prague's Psychiatric Center who claims that the media are partially responsible for the increased acceptability of drug abuse, because they report on the phenomenon as something interesting. Tobacco and alcohol advertising is also to be blamed for the increase of smoking and drinking among young people, who frequently start the habit at the age of 13. How come they have access to alcohol and tobacco, in spite of the law that makes it illegal under the age of 18, the paper asks.

On a more positive note, the same paper, PRAVO, informs its readers about a new cook-book of Romany recipes. It's the first of its kind in Central Europe, and it's more than just a collection of recipes, it also deals with Romany traditions and customs. The author, a 40-year-old Roma social worker, tried out all the 40 recipes included in her book and it took her four years to prepare it for print. But the result is well worth it, the paper says, quoting people who tasted some of the recipes in the book.

09-03-2001