19-06-2003

Today's newspapers offer different opinions and prognoses of the trade union protests in Prague against the government's reform of public finances. MLADA FRONTA DNES warns that the protests and threatened strikes will not succeed, and quotes the finance minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, who has rejected any negotiations about the reforms, which he describes as optimal and necessary.

The trade unions have the right to strike since Prime Minister Spidla's promises in the election campaign were too good to be true, says the daily. On the other hand, those who plan to strike should be aware that the reforms will also bring prosperity, since they aim to lower state expenses, implement pension reform and support enterprise in the country.

While most dailies pay most attention to assurances by a doctors' trade union that urgent health care will be provided, even though every eighth doctor will be on strike, PRAVO devotes some space to Czech farmers. They are unsatisfied with cuts which will hit funds earmarked to make up for low European subsidies and to increase their competitiveness on the European market. The president of the Agricultural Chamber of Commerce, Vaclav Hlavacek, tells PRAVO "it's unfair, they should have told that to us before the referendum."

The most dailies also report that the Czech police broke a chain of human traffickers from Asia during an operation entitled Huang. On Tuesday they found 130 illegal emigrants near the border with Germany and caught 15 criminals. Although each emigrant had to pay up to $ 15, 000 USD to the gang, the long journey between China and Europe was carried out in inhuman conditions, with the refugees often going without food and water.

The Czech delegation is prepared for the upcoming European Union summit in the Greek city of Thessaloniki. However, one issue they are not ready to address is the controversial question of whether the Christian tradition should be part of the new European Constitution, reports LIDOVE NOVINY.

When it comes to the European Union, fewer and fewer of its citizens support expansion to take in neighbouring countries from the east, mainly due to fears of economic consequences, writes MLADA FRONTA DNES. On the other hand, most citizens of the union have a positive attitude to its institutions and foreign policy, writes the daily.

The same newspaper also devotes space on its first page to Czech pop stars Karel Gott and Eva Pilarova, who claim to be victims of censorship during the sixties, although it is no secret that they denounced the anti-communist Charta 77declaration.

And finally, when it comes to music, the Czech capital Prague may still be beautiful but it's losing the post-revolutionary charm which attracted big international rock stars. All they want is money, says the promoter of next month's Rolling concert tells MLADA FRONTA DNES.

19-06-2003