14-06-2001

All the Czech newspapers today carry photos of and reports from the NATO summit in Brussels, where NATO General Secretary George Robertson confirmed further enlargement of the alliance. The new members will be invited to join NATO at its summit in Prague next year, reports the Czech press.

On the domestic front, Lidove noviny reports on a governmental draft of a new election law, noting that the cabinet has prepared a law that could substantially damage the opposition Four Party Coalition. The bone of contention is the quorum - the percentage of votes needed by a party to allow it to enter parliament. The Four Party Coalition claims that the minimum limit should be 5 percent, just as it is for any other party. But the ruling Social Democrats and the opposition Civic democrats, bound together by a power-sharing pact say it's a coalition of four parties and should consequently gain 20 percent of the vote to qualify for parliament.

Lidove noviny speculates that in the Lower House the draft legislation is likely to be approved, but in the upper house of parliament - the Senate - the two leading parties will find themselves in a more complicated situation, as the Four Party Coalition enjoys a majority there. But, the paper points out, the new election law has to be approved by both chambers, and so it's impossible for the Lower House MPs to overrule the Senate if it vetoes the proposed legislation.

Zemske noviny writes that the Czech Republic might soon be put back on the British Home Office's black list which includes countries where the most asylum seekers come from. The move would mean that the Czech Republic might become a country whose citizens would need visa when travelling to Britain. Zemske noviny writes this is mostly due to an ever growing number of Czech Roma seeking asylum in Britain.

According to the paper last year 1,700 Czech Romanies asked for asylum in Britain, but in the first three months of 2001 alone the number was 500. The chairman of a Roma association in the town of Most told the paper that 40 Roma families were prepared to leave the country in June because they cannot find jobs in the region. Zemske noviny writes that it's not only the growing number of Czech asylum seekers that could lead to the introduction of visa requirement, but also the composition of the British cabinet, whose new members seem to be less tolerant of the Roma exodus.

Pravo reports on the results of a controversial cancer-treatment method - devitalisation - in the Czech Republic. The paper writes that devitalisation can no longer give patients 100 percent hope that their illness will be cured. Ten patients who underwent devitalisation in the Moravian city of Brno are doing well, but two others died, writes Pravo.

Doctor Jan Zaloudik from the Oncology Institute in Brno told Pravo that the two patients died because the growth of the tumours process had spread into other parts of their bodies. The binding of a tumour - the heart of the new method - did not start an immune reaction in the patients' bodies, Mr. Zaloudik explained. When asked why this method is only used in the fourth, worst stage of cancer, doktor Zaloudik said the first three stages are presently cured by different, verified methods, which seem to be safer.

14-06-2001