All today's major newspapers lead with President Havel's traditional New Year's address to the Czech people, featuring photos of Mr Havel in his office reading the speech for 2003 as well all the others during his thirteen years as President. The papers also report on New Year's celebrations around the globe which were in some cities somewhat dampened down by the fear of terrorism.
LIDOVE NOVINY notes that in this year's speech, Mr Havel for the first time ever defended the 1993 break-up of Czechoslovakia, dedicating a substantial part of his address to that topic. Vaclav Havel, one of the most vocal champions of the common state, for the first time ever said the split had been a good thing, although he criticised the fact that Czechoslovakia split without a public referendum. "I can not help but feel that no matter how queerly it happened then, it is a good thing that it happened. Evidently, most peoples must taste full statehood for at least a while in order to learn to cooperate with others," LIDOVE NOVINY quotes Vaclav Havel.
LIDOVE NOVINY carries a photo of the first baby born in the Czech Republic in 2003. Her name is Kristyna, she weighs 3.6 kilograms and measures 51 centimetres. She was born in the very first minute of the New Year in Kostelec nad Labem in Central Bohemia.
Today's business daily HOSPODARSKE NOVINY reminds its readers that as of today, their contact and dealing with the state administration should be a lot easier due to the completion of the regional administration reform. The aim of the reform was to bring bureaucrats closer to people. However, HOSPODARSKE NOVINY writes that the introduction of the new system has not been flawless.
At least in January, people should be prepared for a whole range of problems connected with the fact that more than 10 thousand bureaucrats have had to move to different offices and for a transitional period, the law gives them two-month to deal with people's applications and queries instead of the standard 30 days. Besides, top representatives of some of the newly established administration bodies admit that they are not sure what responsibilities and powers they have because they have problems digesting the new 350-page law.
LIDOVE NOVINY reports on what the producers say is a fresh world record in the film-making industry. Czech director F. A. Brabec shot a complete feature film in one day, which he says is the fastest-made movie in the world. The filming started in the morning of December 31 in the snow-covered streets of Prague and was finished the next day within less than 24 hours. The script for the film is based on the book called "Rat-catcher" by Czech writer Viktor Dyk who was born on December 31, 1877.
Some of the newspapers today also report on a tragedy that happened on New Year's Eve in Prague's Bohnice district. Local people describe it as the most horrifying New Year's Eve ever. Fire broke out in a thirteen-storey block of flats at around 8 p.m., destroying several flats, leaving nine people injured and sadly, claiming the life of an elderly woman in whose flat the fire started.
PRAVO quotes shocked firemen who said when they broke in the flat on the sixth floor they found huge heaps of rubbish inside as well as three dustbins the woman must have taken from the street. According to the newspaper, the damage will amount to several million crowns not only because of the fire but also the water used to extinguish it that completely drenched flats on the floors below.
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