29-10-2003

Vaclav Klaus, photo: CTKVaclav Klaus, photo: CTK Without exception all of today's dailies highlight Tuesday's commemoration of the founding of Czechoslovakia 85 years ago - the precursor to today's Czech Republic. Vaclav Klaus commemorated the state holiday for his first time as president, discussing the country's future, calling on Czechs not to give in to pessimism, and stressing hope the country's statehood would remain strong even after joining the European Union. As is traditional on October the 28th the president then awarded the Order of the White Lion, the Order of T.G. Masaryk, honours for bravery and orders of merit.

The only Order of the White Lion went to Alois Siska in memoriam, the famous general who died earlier this year. Some of those who received orders of merit included illustrator Adolf Born and actor Jiri Kodet - featured in MLADA FRONTA DNES. The daily notes that both are long-time members of Mr Klaus' fold, Jiri Kodet a strong supporter of the current president.

Vladimir Spidla and Rudof Schuster, photo: CTKVladimir Spidla and Rudof Schuster, photo: CTK Meanwhile LIDOVE NOVINY looks back at the break-up of Czechoslovakia in 1993, when the Czech Republic and Slovakia formed individual states. Czech Prime Minister Vladmir Spidla's visit to Bratislava was timed on the eve of the 28th - with both Mr Spidla and his Slovak counter-part Mikulas Dzurinda laying wreaths to commemorate the founding of the now non-existent state. Mr Dzurinda pointed out that relations between the Czech Republic and Slovakia were now the best they had ever been - better even than when the two formed a single federal state.

LIDOVE NOVINY goes on to write that although neither politician was eager to revisit the reasons for the split, they did agree on one point: a national plebiscite should have been held back in 1992 allowing the citizens to decide on Czechoslovakia's future. It is widely believed the split, orchestrated then prime ministers Vaclav Klaus and Vladimir Meciar, might never have passed had the people been given a voice. That said, cooperation between the two countries is now better than ever. The daily indicates that the Czech Republic and Slovakia are planning to share common air-space, as well preparing to streamline common positions before and after joining the EU.

If many commemorated the country's statehood on Tuesday it was also a sad day for some - in particular for Romany citizens, many of whom paid their final respects to late Romany "king" Vincent Lakatos, who died last week from long-term health complications at the age of just 54. Writes PRAVO some five hundred Czech and Slovak Roma attended the funeral in the Church of the Holy Saviour in the city of Ostrava, east Moravia.

In keeping with Romany tradition the king's body was laid in an open coffin and covered by bank notes left by the teary-eyed. Many of the final gifts were thoughtful and unusual: PRAVO writes one group pointed out they'd left the king a brand new deck of cards, telling the daily Mr Lakatos was not only a great man but also a great player, who'd make good use of the deck in the next life.

Finally, musicians are planning to hold a concert to show theiy stand against the Communist Party, writes MLADA FRONTA DNES. This is in reaction to a recent poll showing support for the communists has been growing, something singers like David Koller of the famous Czech rock group Lucie find unacceptable. The concert, to be called "We don't talk with communists" after a petition of the same name, will include the talents of Ivan Hlas, Vlasta Tresnak, and younger bands like Krystof, and The Ecstasy of St Theresa, the daily writes. Lucie's guitarist Robert Kodym is even quoted as saying he thinks the very existence of the communist party is "crazy". Polls show that support for the communists hovering at over 18 percent, making them theoretically the 2nd strongest party in the Czech Republic following a drop in support for the Social Democrats currently in government.

29-10-2003