21-11-2003

Istanbul, photo: CTKIstanbul, photo: CTK All today's front pages are dominated by reports on Thursday's blasts in the Turkish city of Istanbul accompanied by photos of the scenes of destruction. The papers also carry statements by the US President George W. Bush and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair condemning the attacks.

Onto domestic stories now, and MLADA FRONTA DNES features an exclusive article by the former Czech president Vaclav Havel in which he reacts to an article written by his successor Vaclav Klaus and published in Saturday's edition of MLADA FRONTA DNES to mark the anniversary of the start of the 1989 Velvet Revolution. In the article, Czech President Vaclav Klaus played down the role of the dissident elite, saying it was ordinary people who should really be thanked for bringing down communism.

Vaclav Havel, on the other hand, writes in today's MLADA FRONTA DNES that the activities of the anti-communist opposition clearly affected the changes that took place in the late 1980s in all countries of the Eastern Block, including the Soviet Union. Had it not been for the dissidents, writes Vaclav Havel, things would have been far more complicated. For example there would have been no clear, recognised and credible partner with whom the ruling power of the time could negotiate at the crucial moment. Otherwise, there might have been chaos and bloodshed, says Vaclav Havel in MLADA FRONTA DNES.

LIDOVE NOVINY has been accompanying Labour and Social Affairs Minister Zdenek Skromach all day on Thursday. The reason - Minister Skromach volunteered to spend all day in a wheelchair to test the challenges wheelchair users have to confront in their daily lives. An organisation of disabled people had invited Mr Skromach and other well-known personalities to spend one day in a wheelchair in order to draw attention to the difficult life conditions of wheelchair users in the Czech Republic.

LIDOVE NOVINY writes that the minister encountered the first problems already in the morning in front of the ministry building as there are no parking spaces for handicapped people and he could not get out of his car and sit straight into his wheelchair. Mr Skromach told LIDOVE NOVINY's reporter that his visual perspective changed completely. While under normal circumstances he can look people straight in the eye, his eyes were on a totally different level when he sat in the wheelchair. Finally, Zdenek Skromach recommended that architects and investors, who decide about the future shape of towns and cities, should follow his example.

The Czech business daily, HOSPODARSKE NOVINY compares prices of apartments and rents in nine European capitals, and they differ significantly. The paper has counted for how many years inhabitants of the cities have to save money to be able to buy a flat there, and how many days they need to work to earn a monthly rent of a seventy-square-metre flat. While a Berliner needs mere seven days of work to cover a monthly rent, and seven years to be able to buy a flat in the German capital, a citizen of Prague has to work over fifteen days to cover the rent and a whole seventeen years to be able to afford a flat. Readers of HOSPODARSKE NOVINY can take comfort in the fact that a Parisian has to work even longer - as long as twenty-eight years to be able to buy a seventy-metre apartment.

And finally, PRAVO gives front page space to the death of Czech country musician Jiri Brabec. The 63-year-old pioneer of country and western music in Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic, apparently committed suicide earlier this week by shooting himself in the head, PRAVO writes. Among the suspected reasons of Jiri Brabec's suicide were financial problems, including large debts. The paper says Jiri Brabec left behind a young wife and a 4-month baby son Dominik.

21-11-2003