26-10-2001

The headlines in Czech newspapers are taking on a semblance of business as usual, with most newspapers' front pages focusing on domestic issues. Events in Afghanistan and the U.S. have momentarily taken a back seat.

Lidove Noviny's top story discusses the rejection of a same-sex partnership law by parliament on Thursday, and Mlada Fronta Dnes focuses on the legal conflict between the Czech Republic and the media firm CME.

And Pravo outlines the Czech senate's request for further amendments in a proposed asylum law.

This morning Lidove Noviny has concentrated on parliament's rejection yesterday of a government law proposal that would have officially recognised same-sex partnerships. The proposal was rejected mainly by the Christian Democrats, who argue that same-sex partnerships should not be given the same status as regular marriages.

Lidove Noviny writes that the decision to return the law to the Social Democrat government for further amendment effectively ends any chances of the proposal being ratified; according to the paper the government will not have time to make any necessary changes before upcoming elections next year.

Meanwhile the daily Pravo offers an interview with the chairman of the Gay Initiative Jiri Hromada, who believes the proposal still has a chance. Mr Hromada sees hope in the fact that the proposal found supporters among members of some of the other parties, and claims that there will be a continued incentive to push the law through, even under a future government.

Thursday's rejected proposal would have raised the legal status of same-sex partnerships to the level of regular marriages on many points, giving gay partners the right to marriage ceremonies performed by local authorities. It would not have granted gay couples the right to adopt children.

The Czech Republic could be headed for trouble in its dispute with media firm CME warns Mlada Fronta Dnes: in September the Czech Republic lost its appeal against the media company at the international arbitration tribunal in Stockholm.

The court recognised that the Czech Republic failed to protect CME's investment in one of the country's major private television stations. So far the Czech Republic has only been ordered to pay the cost of trial expenses, an amount of nearly 1 million USD. But because the Czech Republic has failed to begin payment Mlada Fronta warns, Czech state-owned property outside the country could be at risk.

CME is now weighing whether or not to request executors to begin seizing Czech holdings abroad. In reaction Culture Minister Pavel Dostal issued an order Thursday, banning the shipping of state artwork beyond the country's borders.

But are executors really a threat? Analysts say one can not rule out even such absurd scenarios, as the blocking of Czech embassies on foreign soil. Opponents of the arbitration court's ruling, argue that the Czech Republic has appealed the decision, leaving executors, they argue, without a mandate. Finally, Pravo reports that the Czech senate has returned a proposed amendment to the country's asylum law to the Czech parliament, for further consultation.

The senate is proposing a less severe law, which would allow asylum applicants the freedom to look into their personal files during the asylum process, a point in conflict with the counter-intelligence agency BIS. The senate also proposed that in special cases rejected applicants should be allowed to reapply sooner than the proposed two year minimum.

26-10-2001