06-10-2003

EU summit in Rome, photo: CTKEU summit in Rome, photo: CTK Most Czech papers lead with Saturday's EU summit in Rome. While PRAVO writes that the 25 current and future member states are ready for compromise regarding the burning issue of the European Union constitution and that the summit took place in a friendly atmosphere, LIDOVE NOVINY comments that the very first day of negotiations on the European Union constitution confirmed that the debate on the future of Europe will not go smoothly. The paper goes on to say that the larger countries of the European Union have let the smaller ones know they want to be the bosses in the house.

MLADA FRONTA DNES even speaks of sharp verbal exchanges between European prime ministers and says that on Saturday, Rome was "shaken by the first salvos of a beginning battle" over the final form of the European Union constitution. The article in MLADA FRONTA DNES is accompanied by a photo of Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla presenting the Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi with a clock that's counting down the time that remains until the Czech Republic joins the European Union.

The second story in most Czech dailies on Monday is the weekend's tragic road death record. MLADA FRONTA DNES says that over the weekend 21 people died in 14 accidents and at least six of them were killed by drunk drivers. PRAVO even speaks of 25 casualties, adding that the past weekend was the most tragic on Czech roads this year. The paper writes that the weekend's crashes were an unexpected culmination of the weeklong traffic police operation code named "Krystof" which was meant to prevent traffic accidents.

According to PRAVO, rain might have been one of the causes of the large number of road accidents, but the paper notes that the bad habits of Czech drivers have deep roots. Police officers are mourning the deaths of three of their colleagues whose car was smashed in a crash most probably caused by a drunk driver. PRAVO quotes a policeman as saying that Czech drivers are unbelievably callous. They ignored the fact that 3,300 police officers were deployed on the roads last week, because they knew nothing would happen to them anyway even if they were caught breeching traffic regulations.

LIDOVE NOVINY carries an interview with the United States ambassador to the Czech Republic Craig Stapleton, who is to leave his post at the end of this year to assist US President George W. Bush in his second election campaign. Mr Stapleton tells LIDOVE NOVINY he expects Mr Bush to win the election, in which case Mr Stapleton admits, he might stand a chance of becoming a member of Mr Bush's administrative. Commenting on his recent visit to the Czech military field hospital in Basra, Iraq, Ambassador Stapleton said it was impressive to see the Czech flag flying above the hospital. He added that Czechs should be proud of the achievements of the military doctors in Iraq.

MLADA FRONTA DNES gets back to an issue much debated these days in this country as well as in most of the developed world - the decreasing birth-rate. The paper predicts that the Czech Republic may have only half of its today's population in less than 50 years if the birth-rate continues to fall. According to statistics, the average Czech woman has 1.17 children - the only European country with an even lower record is Armenia. According to the experts, Czechs postpone starting a family because of economic and career reasons and when they decide to have children, they usually only have one.

The economic daily HOSPODARSKE NOVINY writes that the public-service Czech Television has suffered losses worth more than one billion crowns in the last three years. The deficit for last year amounted to 413 million crowns. Czech Television published the figure only a month before the lower house of parliament will discuss a suggestion that subscription fees should be increased. The fees have remained the same since 1997 while the prices of power, post-office and telecommunication services have risen. On top of that, every year, Czech Television fails to collect around 600 million crowns from its viewers, HOSPODARSKE NOVINY writes.

06-10-2003