16-10-2002

Various forms of international terrorism have become a fixture on the front pages of most Czech dailies - and today is no exception. The papers report on the foiled hijack of a civilian airliner bound for Jeddah, there is an eyewitness account of the explosions on Bali by a young Czech tourist who escaped with only light injuries and there is much speculation surrounding the identity of the serial killer on the lose in and around Washington.

The wave of international terrorism, in which any target appears to be fair game, has further heightened security concerns in Prague which is to host the November NATO summit. "The Interior Minister has put his reputation on the line" says Hospodarske Noviny. Mlada Fronta Dnes notes that nothing has been left to chance and the planned security operation comes close to "military maneuvers".

The number of protesters expected to descend on Prague for the two day summit and the number of policemen in the streets are now on a 1: 1 ratio, the paper says. Prague learnt a few sound lessons during the IMF and World Bank summit here in Prague and they will now come in useful, adds Hospodarske Noviny.

The upcoming presidential elections in the Czech Republic have also elicited plenty of comment. Mlada Fronta Dnes notes that nothing has bee welcomes the fact that all political parties have finally agreed to support direct presidential elections, however shallow their reasons may be. It is obvious that presidential elections by the two houses of Parliament will never be more than a political farce, the paper says.

The country needs a president -not a political figurehead- and the only way to achieve that is to elect the head of state in direct elections, the paper says. Let the individual candidates come forward and address voters rather than sitting back and waiting for a political agreement which will put them in the hot seat. Not everyone however is letting the Civic Democratic Party off the hook for changing tactics at the eleventh hour, just to suit its own presidential candidate. Lidove Noviny notes that nothing has bee reports that there have been stormy protests from regional Civic Democratic Party leaders who say that principles should not be sacrificed at the alter of political ambition and that the party's sudden U-turn is personally humiliating for them.

Hospodarske Noviny notes that nothing has bee has an encouraging front page report today telling readers that the Czech Republic has managed to radically reduce air pollution over the past decade and the air Czechs breathe is now "more or less" comparable to that in Western Europe. We are gradually catching up with EU member states in this respect, and although some areas take longer to "clean up" than others the overall figures show a marked improvement, the paper says.

And finally, Mlada Fronta Dnes notes that nothing has bee reports that the health minister Marie Souckova has taken a radical step in trying to reduce the number of home births. "We can't stop women taking this risk but can make it more difficult for them to do so" the minister said and issued a ban which forbids midwives to attend home births.

Several dozen women a year opt for home births in the Czech Republic and most doctors in this country believe it is an unforgivable health hazard for both the mother and child. Doctors say the solution is to create a "home atmosphere" at the clinic - not the other way round, the paper says.

16-10-2002