04-09-2003

Rudolph Giuliani (left), photo: CTKRudolph Giuliani (left), photo: CTK The man dominating the papers today is former mayor of New York City, Rudolph Giuliani, who arrived in the Czech Republic for the first time on Wednesday to participate in a two-day conference on the European Union in the Moravian city of Brno. His photo is splashed across all the front pages, with most papers speculating whether his next stop on the political ladder will be the White House. Locally, the papers offer a good mix of stories ranging from internal disagreement within the Social Democratic Party over whether or not to hold a referendum on the EU constitution to a detailed look at the working conditions of Czech scientists.

In Wednesday's edition, LIDOVE NOVINY reported on a plan to introduce a Czech version of the Nobel Prize to honour domestic scientists. Today, it puts their working conditions under the microscope and concludes that they are far worse off than their colleagues in most other developed countries. Their main problems are low wages, badly equipped laboratories, and a lack of financial support for scientific research.

What's even worse is that the successes achieved usually end up profiting foreign companies as most Czech firms do not have the time or money to invest in long-term research. The result, the paper notes, is a brain drain as many Czech scientists go to the USA, Switzerland, the UK, or Singapore for better work conditions and higher wages.

MLADA FRONTA DNES reports on a new government initiative to come to the aid of women who have been forced into prostitution. The scheme will help those who make the decision to leave the oldest profession, by offering a one-month intensive co-operation programme in which the police and support organisations will provide the victims of forced prostitution with a secret hiding place and financial support to start a new life. Those prepared to contribute to police investigations are promised further aid for a long-term period. Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Stanislav Gross is currently working out the details of the plan, the paper concludes.

Although the Czech Army is expected to cut down in size by half in the next three years, it has no plans to give up some of its five training areas that take up 1.5 percent of the country's land, HOSPODARSKE NOVINY writes. The paper compares this to neighbouring Germany, where the Army only has a little over half a percent of the country's land at its disposal for training. It quotes Defence Ministry spokesman Ladislav Sticha, as saying that the Army is holding on to the bases on the request of NATO, adding that US, Belgian, and Dutch soldiers often use it for training, paying quite generously for the space.

LIDOVE NOVINY writes that the senior ruling coalition partner, the Social Democrats, are facing a dilemma as they stand divided over whether or not to hold a referendum on the EU constitution. While the party has traditionally supported the principle, stressing that people should have the right to decide on important matters, it is being warned that a public vote on the EU constitution may not end according to the party's expectations. A problem that benefits the main opposition Civic Democrats who can now come in and push for a referendum, gaining public support in the process, the paper writes.

04-09-2003