17-12-2003

Fighter jet F16, photo: CTKFighter jet F16, photo: CTK The government tender on fighter jets for the Czech Air Force, the future of the European Union following discord over the European Constitution and the situation on Czech roads in the wake of the first heavy snowfall - those are the main stories on today's front pages.

Europe has woken up to reality, says Lidove Noviny. The ideals of a united Europe lasted only until it came down to a division of money and power. The paper notes that the accusations German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder levelled against the Polish and Spanish delegations about considering only their national interests and not the interests of a united Europe had a false ring to them.

How cynical, the paper says. Poland is only doing what everyone else is -particularly the larger EU states. Let's face it : the interests of a common Europe are secondary to all, says Lidove Noviny. Mlada Fronta Dnes says that the president of the European Commission Romano Prodi is deeply disappointed by this fact and has warned European countries that without a union they will have no future.

Pravo reports that once again the first heavy snowfall in the Czech Republic has caught both maintenance crews and drivers unprepared. The number of road accidents is reported to have tripled over the past two days and some mountain roads have had to be closed to traffic. Police are issuing repeated warnings asking drivers to make sure they are equipped with winter tyres, chains and a bag of sand before heading for the mountains.

Mlada Fronta Dnes reports that one Czech firm is already doing business with Iraq. Mars Jevicko was among the first to sign a post-war contract and is now sending a delivery of six thousand bullet-proof vests worth 2.7 million dollars to Baghdad. According to the paper the vests have been bought for state funds and will be used by Iraqi police officers.

And finally, Pravo reports that the Catholic church is selling off property - mainly unused buildings due to a lack of priests and a lack of money for maintenance. It is also considering the sale or lease of unused churches, a list of which is to appear on the Internet. Asked to comment on this culture minister Pavel Dostal said the Church had the same ownership rights as anyone else and was fully entitled to make such a decision. He expressed the hope though that these buildings would be used in a way that would preserve their historic and cultural value.

17-12-2003