29-11-2001

In today's Czech papers it's mainly the ongoing Czech-Austrian dispute over the Temelin nuclear power plant that keeps commentators busy. Also the new election and health care bills get their share of criticism across the dailies.

Lidove noviny believes that the election law amendment will be passed by the lower house and will get to the Senate by the end of this year. Voters can now hope that six months before the elections they will finally know the law according to which they are supposed to vote. But after all those months of waiting, the law is not going to mean any change anyway, the paper notes.

The Prague daily Prazske Slovo goes even further. Not only is the situation confusing for the average voter who still doesn't know how his or her vote will be counted next year, but the MPs have left enough leeway for changes in the law, as usual.

Commenting on the Czech-Austrian row over the Temelin nuclear power plant, Prazske Slovo hopes it will end in a compromise - a time-trusted way of settling conflicts. Czechs should recognize Austria's fear of nuclear energy and Austrians should in return respect the fact that the Czech Republic no longer wishes to burn coal and cause the forests in North Bohemia to die, not to mention the billions of crowns invested that would be thrown away in case the power station is never put into operation.

Neither party would benefit, should the dispute go on, Prazske Slovo continues. Austria could veto the Czech Republic's entry to the European Union but that would not cause the power plant to close down and Austria would only find itself in isolation within the EU. Let's hope that at today's meeting, the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Austria's chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel will opt for compromise, the paper concludes.

'The bell tolls for alternative medicine', says the headline in Prazske Slovo. A health care bill discussed by the lower house today might, according to some lawyers, outlaw alternative medicine, even when practised by certified medical workers.

The paper notes that by proposing the bill, the Czech health ministry does not harmonize the Czech health care system with those in the European Union countries. Moreover, the bill outlawing alternative medicine is in conflict with the recommendations of the World Health Organization, Prazske Slovo warns.

The health minister Bohumil Fiser is probably a nice man and he means well, Mlada fronta Dnes writes on a similar note. It's kind of him to think we are brainless creatures when we get ill. Patients don't understand the mysteries of medicine and therefore they have to rely on the patronizing state and the infallible doctor. Too much choice isn't good for the patient, the patient's rights don't need to be stipulated by laws, you don't even need to know them, just let the state tell you what's best for you.

But there are people who aren't helpless, who wish to know, to question and make their own decisions when it comes to their health. Even the health minister Fiser himself, the paper concludes, sometimes has his reservations about Czech doctors.

29-11-2001