Press Review

On its front-page editorial, LIDOVE NOVINY comments on the failure of the Arab-Israeli talks in Camp David. The newspaper points out that talks between the two quarreling parties have been dragging on for seven years without any need for any of them to find a quick solution. The biggest loser then is Bill Clinton, who seems to have lost his last chance to enter the history books as a Middle East peacemaker, LIDOVE NOVINY concludes.

MLADA FRONTA DNES unveils another suspicious case of political party sponsorship. The paper claims that several high-ranking members of the Social Democratic Party in northern Moravia have established a business and bought a villa with money donated by an unknown sponsor. The Social Democratic Party then moved its regional office into the building. MLADA FRONTA DNES reports that one of those involved is the minister for local development, Petr Lachnit, and suggests that the mysterious donor in return receives lucrative state contracts from the ministry. The paper points out that Premier Zeman, who has always criticised dubious business activities, sees nothing wrong with this particular case.

PRAVO highlights the necessity of investing more in the education sector. Every reasonable government must understand that a country like the Czech Republic, small, with no access to the sea and with depleted natural resources, cannot compete internationally other than with brightness of brain and skillfulness of hand. This year, the education sector, which suffers from mass fluctuations of qualified labour, has not received enough funding from the state budget, which has been focused upon bailing out troubled banks instead. This was supposed to be compensated for in next year's state budget, but then came bad news - the increase in the Education Ministry's budget will probably only amount to one third of the promised sum. The newspaper concludes by expressing hope that the government eventually does realise that investment in education is fundamental for the future development of this country.

LIDOVE NOVINY also comments upon some aspects of the Czech Republic's entry to the European Union. It recalls that the communist regime was afraid of many things and either regulated or suppressed them. But as we approach EU membership, it looks like we are replacing one cowardly guardian with another. In Europe, people no longer have to struggle for life's bare necessities, and so have more time to look out for the dangers that seemingly lurk behind every corner - they are afraid of genetically modified food, mad cow disease, nuclear energy and mobile telephones. Besides real threats, they also are wary of things they do not understand. The Czechs are about to replace the communist fear with this 'preliminary cautiousness', as it has been deemed in Europe, concludes LIDOVE NOVINY.