Press Review

All of today's papers report on Saturday's Gothenburg summit in Sweden during which EU leaders officially named the end of 2002 as the target date for the completion of accession talks with the most prepared candidates and said that they expected them to take part in the 2004 European elections as fully-fledged members.

The papers look at the Czech Republic's chances of being among the first to take part in the enlargement process, quoting Prime Minister Milos Zeman as saying that the country had already closed 19 of the 31 chapters necessary for accession and would surely meet the remaining requirements before the target date.

MLADA FRONTA DNES has followed the example of LIDOVE NOVINY and PRAVO and, as of today, comes in colour with a bigger, more comprehensible lay-out - very similar to the other two papers. On its front page it reports on the unfortunate fate of participants of a meditating course who were poisoned after drinking tea containing the poisonous herb, Thornapple. The paper says that the leader of the course, Petr Chobot, who had brewed the tea without having any himself had received the herbs from friends who had come back from a trip to South America.

The 25 victims had to be rushed to hospital suffering from strong hallucinations, nervousness, and aggressiveness. Some even lost consciousness. So far, no one has been held responsible for the affair and the paper quotes Mr. Chobot as saying that it was an accident caused by an unfortunate case of mistaken identity during the gathering of the herbs.

Today's edition of LIDOVE NOVINY celebrates tomorrow's 60th birthday of Lower House Speaker and former Prime Minister, Vaclav Klaus with a special three-page supplement on Mr. Klaus' past twelve years on the political scene. The paper says that within 12 years the man had developed from a bank administrator to a Czech political phenomenon who has divided society into two irreconcilable groups: those who oppose him and those who admire him.

ZEMSKE NOVINY features an article on genetically modified food, saying that although ever more Czechs are rejecting it, almost everyone will unknowingly end up eating it sooner or later anyway. It bases this prediction on the fact that many biology labs in the United States have taken a liking to genetically modifying food, therefore putting more and more of it on not only on the American but also on the European market.

Czech citizens at the moment have no way of knowing whether they are eating GM food as current legislation does not require its labeling. This, however, is to change next year with the implementation of EU legislation which requests such labeling. The paper says, however, that special crops resistant to fungi, frost, and pests troubling basic organic food will soon gain popularity. It quotes experts as saying that the EU itself will sooner or later adopt a more lax attitude to controlling GM food.

PRAVO reports on the election of Senator Michael Zantovsky as chairman of the Civic Democratic Alliance - the ODA, one of the parties making up the right-of-centre opposition grouping, the Four-Party Coalition. The paper says that Mr. Zantovsky's election has been received with mixed feelings by his colleagues from the Four-Party Coalition as this is the third time that he has been elected as party chairman.

Whilst the Chairman of the Christian Democrats, Cyril Svoboda, has said that he looks forward to co-operating with Mr. Zantovsky, the paper believes that Mr. Svoboda's attempt to unify the coalition may not go down too well with the ODA.