30-11-2001

The biggest story in today's papers is naturally the outcome of Thursday's meeting of the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman and the Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel in Brussels over the Czech controversial Temelin nuclear power plant.

The debate on the safety of the power plant is important, says a commentator in Pravo, but it diverts our attention from a more general problem that is going to burden our descendants - what shall we do with the spent fuel? The paper thinks that we won't actually need the energy produced by Temelin, we will have to export it and subsidize the production. The cheapest solution would be to stop Temelin, regardless of the billions invested. The Temelin case is causing yet more harm, although few people are aware of it, the commentator notes. The Czech state's stubbornness only exacerbates the feeling of self-pity in the nation and fuels petty Czech nationalism. The compromise hurts and although the closing of Temelin would hurt even more, it would be the best solution, concludes the paper.

Hospodarske noviny looks back on the case. When in 1986 work started on the building site near the village of Temelin in South Bohemia, the leaders of communist Czechoslovakia wouldn't have dreamed of the consequences. The power plant eventually became one of the main potential obstacles on the Czech Republic's path to the European Union and also an instrument used by Austrian populists who are trying to disrupt the Austrian political scene.

Mlada fronta Dnes gives a detailed account of Thursday's meeting of the Czech and Austrian leaders. Beside the description of the technical details which need to be changed for the plant to meet Austria's safety requirements, the paper also mentions that during refreshment breaks both delegations served the typical products of their respective countries: Austrian apple strudel and Czech beer.

Speaking about food, Lidove noviny worries about the fate of certain typical Czech foods and beverages, which might not make it to the European Union. The EU has strict rules on food hygiene and several countries have had examples of their national cuisines banned. The Czech products that might appear on a black list include a famous Czech smelly cheese, pickled sausages and herring, and dark rum that doesn't correspond with the EU standards because it is distilled from potatoes and not sugarcane.

The Prague daily Prazske Slovo comments on the new law on churches. The paper thinks the law returns the Czech Republic to the past and distances the country from Europe. This week the Lower House of the Czech Parliament defied Senate and church opposition by approving a controversial bill redefining the relationship between religious organisations and the state. The churches think the law is discriminatory, because it stipulates that church charities will have to re-register separately from the churches themselves and will be held fully accountable to the interior ministry. The churches fear that this would threaten the charities or stop their activities altogether. On the other hand, the law's advocates say that it will greatly help smaller churches and religious societies. Prazske Slovo notes that the complete separation of Church and State could stop all disputes, but according to the paper that is impossible.

And finally, Mlada fronta Dnes looks at a possible corruption scandal, which might have been the cause of several deaths in the Czech air force. Most of the aircraft were grounded on Monday after the police found out that faulty altimeters might have been the cause of three fighter jet crashes since last year. The company, which supplied the altimeters, was not selected in a regular public tender 6 years ago and the police are now investigating whether corruption is the underlying cause of the crashes and the deaths of army pilots.

30-11-2001