Press Review

The annual conference of the centre right Civic Democratic Party, held in Ostrava over the weekend, dominates Monday's front pages. Lidove noviny notes that after ten years in the hot seat, the authority of Vaclav Klaus as party leader remains unchallenged. He was the only candidate for the post of party leader and with 92% of votes in his favor he has an even stronger mandate than in recent years.

The Civic Democrats are ready to return to power after next year's general election and Vaclav Klaus is determined to lead them there, says Pravo. This party conference was a call to battle and Vaclav Klaus is putting his own political future on the line. Mlada fronta Dnes notes that although the Civic Democrats failed to come up with anything distinctly new the charisma and rhetoric of Mr. Klaus are as potent as ever. He remains the King of Hearts and he can still mix a cocktail of truth and ideology better than anyone else, the paper says. His words will be ridiculed, parodied and twisted around but they will leave an impression. Comparing other party leaders to Klaus is like comparing shadows to a marble statue, says Mlada fronta Dnes .

The paper likewise comments on Vaclav Klaus' words regarding the Czech Republic's future in the EU. Mr. Klaus, whose views have won him the label Eurosceptic, was well aware of the fact that to speak out against the European Union would not go down well with his party's supporters. Astute politician that he is Klaus chose a better tactic - he promised Czechs to negotiate an equal partnership for Czechs in the EU and said that if the country joined the EU under his leadership Czechs would not regret making that decision.

Of course a great many people are not able to judge how realistic -or unrealistic- that kind of promise is. The important thing is that it sounds good, Mlada fronta Dnes concludes.

Slovo and Hospodarske noviny have joined the media speculation regarding potential coalition partners for the Civic Democrats. Hospodarske noviny notes that the degree of acrimony on the Czech political scene is as great as ever and, judging by the heated weekend exchange between the Civic Democrats and leaders of the Four Party coalition, one cannot rule out a political scenario resembling the present opposition deal between the Civic and Social Democrats.

The paper notes that some Civic Democrats are openly discussing the possibility of a future coalition with the Social Democrats -if talks with other potential partners should fail. Hospodarske noviny notes in this respect that a coalition would be preferable to another opposition agreement. It would be more honest, the paper says.

The war against terrorism has also received plenty of media attention with commentators focussing on growing public disappointment with the military operation against terrorist bases in Afghanistan. The public expected early results and inevitably support for the military operation is dropping, says Karel Pacner in Mlada fronta Dnes.

He reminds readers of President Bush's statement regarding the fact that this war would be different from all others that the world has known. It may take many years to win this war and we must arm ourselves with patience and learn to live with whatever it takes because this is a war that must be fought and won in the interest of peace and democracy world- wide. That from Mlada fronta Dnes.