Press Review

The bovine foot-and-mouth disease dominates the top stories in all the Czech newspapers today. The headlines read "Epidemic strikes the continent", "Foot-and-mouth a step closer to Central Europe", and so on. All the papers also describe measures the Czech Republic has adopted to prevent the spread of the disease.

LIDOVE NOVINY analyses the successes and failures of Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman's foreign visits. The paper recollects that almost all of Mr Zeman's journeys abroad were economically, not politically motivated.

While during his trips to the former Soviet Union and Asia, he promoted Czech exports, in Western Europe he has fished for foreign investment into the Czech Republic. However, some observers say that the prime minister would have done better if he stayed at home doing his best to improve law enforcement and make the Czech legislative environment more transparent for investors.

Today's PRAVO says that the Interior Ministry is highly inefficient, swallowing ever larger sums of money from the state budget. On the one hand, the police complain of a lack of money to buy proper equipment, and on the other, the ministry wastes large sums of money on disadvantageous contracts with suppliers.

An in-depth audit carried out by the Supreme Audit Authority has revealed that the ministry pays independent experts for analyses, and it has not occurred to the ministry's accountants that some of these experts declare 27 hours of work per day for the ministry, besides having a regular job elsewhere.

MLADA FRONTA DNES comments on the controversial Czech proposal for a UN resolution criticising human rights violations in Cuba. The paper sees it as unfortunate that Czech diplomats mix up human rights with U.S. economic sanctions against Fidel Castro's regime in a resolution which has no real practical effect, but merely strains Czech relations with its biggest ally. MLADA FRONTA DNES therefore recommends that the Czech foreign ministry backs down quickly.

And finally, LIDOVE NOVINY once again, and the paper writes that Czech mobile phone mania, which peaked before Christmas, is still far from receding. By the end of the year 2000, the number of mobile phones among Czech population exceeded that of fixed lines, and operators expect the growing trend to continue at the same pace this year, so that around a half the population will have a mobile phone by the end of this year.