Press Review

The headlines in Czech daily newspapers today are dominated by a diplomatic row between the United States and the Czech Republic over a resolution criticizing human rights violations in Cuba. All the papers also celebrate the success of Roman Sebrle, who won a gold medal in the heptathlon event at the World Indoor Championships in Lisbon.

The lead story in today's PRAVO has a rather dramatic headline, which reads "The Czech Republic and the United States engaged in their first conflict". The newspaper points out that the U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has voiced his country's disapproval with the wording of a Czech-sponsored resolution condemning human rights abuses in Cuba twice in a just a few days.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY notes that Mr Powell even went as far as to telephone Czech President Vaclav Havel over the issue of the resolution. The paper quotes Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil as saying that the text of the resolution is not final. The paper also lists reactions from Czech opposition parties, who are convinced that the ministry's approach might damage the Czech Republic's reputation.

ZEMSKE NOVINY carries an appalling report that many road bridges in the Czech Republic are in such a bad condition that they might collapse. The road maintenance authority says it does not have enough money for repairs and says the situation has been getting worse. The paper reports that although more than 8 percent of road bridges are dilapidated and therefore dangerous to use, they have not been closed down.

LIDOVE NOVINY comments on some of the promises the Czech government has failed to deliver on, especially the installation of at least one computer with internet connection in every primary and secondary school in the Czech Republic. However, there are not sufficient funds for this and the authorities are unable to say whether the project will actually be implemented or not.

This is not a surprise, the paper notes, because providing better education for the younger generation is a catchphrase suitable for use in any political manifesto. In reality, other ways to spend state budget funds are given priority, such as covering the losses of commercial banks, saving ineffective companies from bankruptcy, or buying new aircraft for the military, the LIDOVE NOVINY editorial concludes bitterly.