Press Review

The front pages of all of today's papers look at different aspects of the international war against terrorism, launched in the wake of the attacks on the United States. Whilst a Mlada fronta Dnes headline reads "Blair Says: There Will Be War", Pravo focuses on the American fear of chemical weapons. Lidove noviny looks at the "One And A Half Million People Fleeing Afghanistan" and Hospodarske noviny writes "Surrounded Taliban Now Isolated". The only newspaper that does not have the fight against terrorism as its main story is Slovo, which is more interested in the fact that the cost of fuel is set to go down, and stay down for some time to come.

On page two of Hospodarske noviny, the paper looks at the extent to which fears in the United States of chemical warfare have now spread to the Czech Republic. The paper writes that despite recent information gathered by the U.S. authorities that one of the September 11th suicide terrorist pilots had also learned how to use agricultural technology, not much has been done by the Czech government to secure its chemicals. It also writes that the country does not intend to limit the use of crop-spraying planes in order to minimise the possibility of them being used to spray deadly chemicals.

Lidove noviny writes that in the wake of the attacks on the U.S. a new poll shows that 80% of Czechs say they are ready to have their rights limited for the sake of their country's safety. One of those conducting the poll, Jan Spousta, told the paper that based on his past experience, he was surprised to see such a large number of Czechs willing to grant the police more powers. He added that a third of those polled agreed that safety would be ensured if the government had more power over its people. Only 17% of those polled refused to give up their freedoms in the interests of security.

Today's Pravo writes that despite the fact that a new law on compensation for WWII resistance fighters and political prisoners from the Communist regime came into effect two months ago, the Czech government still has no idea where it will get the 2.6 billion Czech crowns, to be paid out over the next two years. The paper says that payments are supposed to begin in October and the government now has to make some decisions fast. It quotes Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla as saying that the government had only four, rather weak, options. The first two - using the state's financial assets and issuing state bonds - were immediately rejected by Mr Spidla as both would have to be approved by parliament. The third option is finding ministries who would be willing to limit their budgets. That, also, did not seem too realistic to Mr Spidla. Since, for political and ethical reasons, the compensation payments cannot be postponed to next year, Mr Spidla has suggested finding a way of skimming funds from the state budget.

Lidove noviny writes that the Czech Republic fails to respect international sanctions. At the moment, there are economic sanctions placed on 17 countries. The most strict have been placed on Burma and Iraq, with trade with Baghdad limited to the so-called "oil for food" deal. But quoting customs officials, the paper says the Czech Republic is flouting the sanctions and continues to export its goods to both countries. Goods exported to Iraq, mostly heavy engineering equipment, have allegedly amounted to nine million Czech crowns in the last 18 months, the paper concludes.