Press Review

Czechs are eating more healthily - it's official. Today's MLADA FRONTA DNES looks at statistics showing that Czechs are eating less and less beef and pork, and that even the Czech holy-of-holies, the dumpling, is on the decline. Instead people are turning to poultry, fruit and vegetables. But all this is relative. If you compare the Czech Republic with Western Europe, you get a rather different story. Your average West European still eats 34 kilos more vegetables annually than his or her Czech counterpart, and by comparison Czechs are still avid pork eaters. And the paper reports on another interesting trend. Until recently Czechs used to be keen kitchen gardeners. There were few vegetables in the shops, so people would grow their own. These days vegetables are cheap and readily available, so gardens are being turned over to flowers and lawns.

But if today's LIDOVE NOVINY is to be believed, these days are numbered. The paper warns that we're about to see a dramatic rise in food prices, due to growing fuel costs and this spring's catastrophic drought. Over the last twelve months wholesale food prices have risen by 15 percent, and this is bound to hit the consumer. Least affected will be the old favourites beef and pork, so we can probably expect a return to the traditional unhealthy Czech diet, and daffodils will once more make way for cabbages.

ZEMSKE NOVINY's top headline also concerns farmers. It reports that Agriculture Minister Jan Fencl is about to ask the government for no less than seven billion crowns to compensate farmers for the drought. But the problem is that the state coffers are empty, so the paper predicts that at least three billion crowns will have to be borrowed. Ironically, this story comes on a day when several of the papers carry front-page headlines of floods in the eastern part of the country, where several rivers burst their banks on Monday after prolonged rain. Unfortunately the rain has come too late to save lost spring yields worth some eleven billion crowns, reports ZEMSKE NOVINY.

Today's PRAVO has a full-page report on child prostitution in the Czech Republic, in response to an article in the German magazine Der Spiegel. The article suggested that the country was rapidly becoming a paedophile paradise for German sex tourists, and that the Czech authorities were doing nothing about it. So PRAVO asks a number of Czech officials whether they think this is true, and not surprisingly they all deny the claim. Jitka Gjuricova from the Interior Ministry says that statistics reveal child prostitution in the Czech border regions to be minimal, and the mayor of the border town of Cheb shares the view, claiming that it would be hard for the pimps to hide mass child prostitution for more than a very short period. This view contrasts dramatically with Der Spiegel's claim that 6,000 Czech children are involved in prostitution every day. Prague social worker Laszlo Sumegh who works directly with prostitutes, shares the German view. He tells PRAVO that child sex tourism here is very cheap for German, English, Dutch and American paedophiles, and adds that although the average age of the prostitutes with whom he comes into contact is around seventeen, there are plenty of boys and girls as young as eleven or twelve. Most of them have run away from children's homes. Conflicting claims there from today's PRAVO.