Press Review

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HOSPODARSKE NOVINY turns to the recent development in the row over the former medieval Jewish cemetery located on a current construction site of the Ceska Pojistovna insurance company. The only way out of this dilemma, writes the daily, is to negotiate and compromise. And although such a compromise had been within reach, the inability of the Prague Jewish community to explain its requirements and the insurance company's inability to comprehend them have brought the whole process crashing down. The international Jewish community lost patience and accepted a call from the Committee for Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe for the halting of construction. Now, speculates HOSPODARSKE NOVINY, the whole case could escalate to the level of human rights violations and end in international embarrassment. The government should abandon its insistence that the case is closed and look for ways of getting all sides back to the negotiating table, concludes the paper.

MLADA FRONTA DNES picks up the eternal "what's in a name" debate by examining the confusion over which English short form to use when designating the Czech Republic. At first glance, writes the paper, the designation "Czechia" may seem to be leading in the battle of names, as evidenced by its use by Foreign Minister Robin Cook, EU executives and even the American news channel CNN. However, the recent scandal at the EXPO 2000 in Hanover, Germany, where "Chechnya" was mistakenly used to indicate the Czech pavilion on an official map shows that despite being officially in place since 1993 this term does not yet roll smoothly off tongues either at home or abroad. The Czech Hockey Association, the paper points out, has refused to use the term at international tournaments, opting simply for the short form "Czech", which has recently also found favour with the British public. And just to complicate matters further, ever since the Foreign Ministry showed preference for it in 1993, "The Czechlands" has been a favourite among ambassadors and government officials. Oh dear, one more thing to add to our worries, sighs the paper cheekily.

LIDOVE NOVINY returns to Prime Minister Milos Zeman's recent two-year tally of his accomplishments from a different angle, comparing his Social Democratic government with that of Gerhard Schroeder in neighbouring Germany. Both governments had similarly unlucky starts, and by the end of their first year in power, their popularity had sunk to record lows. However, while Gerhard Schroeder managed to turn this trend around by introducing fundamental economic and social reforms, most of which came with the replacement of "old Left" Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine by financial hard-liner Hans Eichel, Prime Minister Zeman has shied away from taking the steps the country desperately needs, says the paper. Any sensible reforms have only come as a result of EU pressure, the power-sharing pact with the opposition Civic Democrats, or simply the current economic situation. While the German chancellor has become a leading proponent of the "Third Way," Prime Minister Zeman has stuck to traditional leftist politics coupled with pragmatism, concludes LIDOVE NOVINY.