08-10-2002

Preparations for the November NATO summit in Prague dominate most of today's front pages. "The upcoming summit will turn Prague into a fortress" says Mlada Fronta Dnes. The anti-terrorist squad is choosing appropriate rooftops, the army is deploying missiles and the organizers are seeking ways to encourage as many Prague inhabitants as possible to leave the city for a few days.

Pravo reports that during the summit Czech airspace will be guarded by a fleet of US fighter jets and the radar system AWACS. The Czech police has reportedly acquired a special device capable of identifying persons on the basis of a photograph or video-recording. There is much said about the need for Prague to pass this test with flying colors and commentator Martin Komarek has headlined his column with the question :Will Osama come too?

Two political leaders share the limelight on today's front pages. One is Russian President Vladimir Putin whose political star is rising and whose 50th birthday celebration evoked a fresh wave of Putin-mania among adoring fans in Russia. The other is the father of the Czech reform, former prime minister and Civic Democratic Party leader Vaclav Klaus, who appears to be on his way out.

The Civic Democrats are trying to find an acceptable way of parting with their founding father who has become more of a burden than an asset, says Mlada Fronta Dnes. There is general agreement that he can no longer remain at the helm but there is also a need to part amicably. The paper notes that the Civic Democrats are secretly worried about sharing the fate of the British conservative party which fell into a slump after sidelining Margaret Thatcher.

Lidove Noviny reports on the after-effects of the floods. It features an article on "leptospirosis" a bacterial disease which has appeared in south Bohemia, one of the hardest hit regions. The paper has advice on how to stay safe during clean up work of contaminated areas and describes the early symptoms of the disease, urging people to get a check up if they have any doubts. The paper says that given the fact that clean up work has been concluded in most parts of the country there is no reason to fear many more cases of what used to be called "swamp fever".

Although most people have now picked up the pieces and are getting on with their lives for close to 100 inhabitants of the Karlin district the floods remain a nightmare, says Lidove Noviny. The mayor of Karlin, has been unable to provide them with temporary accommodation and thus the new "homeless" are still living in a school gym, sleeping on the floor without any form of heating and with two electric cookers for close to 100 people.

Hospodarske Noviny comments on the record state deficit outlined in the government's draft budget proposal for 2003. The opposition is already forming a gauntlet to give the cabinet a sound thrashing, Hospodarske Noviny says. But would it not be much more useful if instead of the clubs and insults the opposition armed itself with a sensible counter-proposal?

Pravo notes that although the budget debate in Cabinet is far from over, the size of the proposed deficit - 157 billion crowns - is unlikely to change. The Social Democrats are counting on the governing coalition's 101 vote majority in parliament to push it through and there are already signs of acceptance. The Christian Democrats have said that the deficit is not "desirable" but reflects the country's present needs. The Freedom Union, the party most opposed to a high deficit in principle, does not have much maneuvering space or leverage to reduce it, the paper says.

08-10-2002