11-11-2003

Vaclav Klaus, photo: CTKVaclav Klaus, photo: CTK Without a doubt one of the most interesting items making the front-pages this day is the BBC's interview with Vaclav Klaus. The Czech president appeared on the BBC's hard-hitting discussion programme Hardtalk, hosted by Tim Sebastian, on Monday. The programme, which does exactly what its title implies, asked some tough questions of the Czech president, asking him to reflect on the situation of the Czech Roma and alleged weapons exports, both issues the president downplayed or rejected outright, says MLADA FRONTA DNES. The daily quotes the president as saying "the situation with the Roma had always been a problem in many countries". He is also quoted as rejecting the question of discrimination as a whole, indicating it didn't deserve a response.

Meanwhile, on the question of arms deals Mr Klaus indicated that they belonged to Czechoslovakia's communist past. MLADA FRONTA DNES writes he refused to give any weight to a recent Amnesty International report claiming Czech weapons had recently been uncovered in 'hot zones' around the world. "Amnesty International", Klaus told the BBC, was not an institution "he believed in".

If nothing else Mr Klaus was his usual self in the BBC interview, indicates MLADA FRONTA DNES: the paper writes that the president was just as prickly with Tim Sebastian as with any Czech reporter: in the interview Mr Klaus rejected several points outright, and once he warned Tim Sebastian that allegations over arms deals bordered on insult. As far as the more interesting aspects of the interview went they were questions concerning the Czech Republic's joining the EU. MLADA FRONTA DNES writes that Mr Klaus reiterated his well-known fear the Czech Republic might dissolve in the union like a sugar cube in a cup of coffee. Ultimately, Mr Klaus called himself an optimistic Euro-realist in the interview, adding that there were "many freedom-loving people within the EU who could help form its future".

Turning now to a different topic, PRAVO writes that a new medicine called LA-12 that has been developed by a Moravian pharmaceutical company should not be mistaken for a miracle drug. The reason: although it has already been patented in 50 countries and is now being tested in clinical trials, doctors involved in the project do not want to give rise to false hopes in patients suffering from the disease.

Even so, says PRAVO, early tests have been encouraging. Pre-clinical results suggested that LA-12 far exceeded existing treatment while proving less toxic. The drug is administered not by injection but taken in tablet form. It is apparently capable of destroying tumours where chemotherapy fails. The daily says the soonest that the new medicine could make it onto the market would be in three or four years' time.

Today's LIDOVE NOVINY offer good news for Czech football fans, now that two Czechs have made a short-list for this year's European Player of the Year Award. The two nominated are star midfielder Pavel Nedved, who plays for Italy's Juventus Turin, and Jan Koller, who plays for Borussia Dortmund. The list of names nominated for Best Player is put together every year by the magazine France Football: fifty have been chosen in all.

The results shall be made public in December and other favourites include England's David Beckham, Brazil's Ronaldo, and France's Zinedine Zidane. Still, many observers are saying this could be Nedved's year, although he has made the list five times before and come away empty-handed. Meanwhile, LIDOVE NOVINY writes that Pavel Nedved's personal pick for this year is neither himself nor his Czech colleague: "I'd give it to Raul," Nedved tells the Czech daily, Raul being one of Spain's most famous players.

11-11-2003