Press Review

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Most of Thursday's papers cover the decision of Czech politicians to send Czech soldiers to Afghanistan and Kuwait and the fact that former top Communists Milos Jakes and Josef Lenart may face charges of treason.

The Czech Parliament has been prompt in approving the deployment of Czech soldiers to take part in the campaign against terrorism, says the daily Slovo. Compared to the situation two years ago when NATO attacked the former Yugoslavia there has been a clear change in the thinking of Czech politicians. Then, Czech parliamentarians supported the NATO action. However, their vacillation was quite obvious and Czech people were not unanimous either about whether the decision was right or not.

This time polls suggest that more than half of Czechs support the deployment and almost three quarters are for NATO helping the United States. As soon as Czech soldiers start on their peace mission, they'll contribute to the fight against terrorism. And not only that. They'll help to pay back what the United States did for Europe during WW I and II, concludes Slovo.

Body tissues have been exported from the Czech Republic. According to Lidove noviny pathologists from a hospital in Decin hand over the tissues of dead people for money to the Prague company Medal. This firm then sells the body parts to processing companies abroad. According to the director of the Medal company Jiri Prib the tissues help to save lives or make operations easier.

Some time ago the Czech Medical Chamber examined the practice of doctors at Decin hospital. It turned out the law had not actually been broken. Taking body tissues from dead people without the approval of their relatives can merely be described as unethical in the Czech Republic, read Lidove noviny.

Pravo comments on President Havel's hospitalisation due to his pneumonia. Even though doctors say his health has improved since his admission on Monday it makes Czechs very upset. The cause of Mr Havel's poor health is quite obvious, the daily says - the years he spent in jail under the former Communist regime. Due to his post as president it is wrong to even think about Mr Havel following his doctors' advice and step down before his term ends in January 2003.

Czech people would most probably survive the inevitable political wrangle over the post of president if it were free. Over time the Czechs would even put up with the fact that without Vaclav Havel as president their country would loose a certain international prestige.

Mlada fronta Dnes focuses in one of its commentaries on problems Czech universities are facing. Not long ago there was a debate between the Education Ministry and the state run colleges and universities about the two billion Czech crowns they lack. IN the end the funds have been included in the state budget for next year. People who are not involved in this matter could have got the impression that the issue of the two billion crowns was the only problem of third-level education in the Czech Republic.

The almost complete dependence of the school system on the state budget is more of a long-term issue. Therefore it is crucial to reform Czech education, says the daily. One issue is the introduction of tuition fees. In January Czech MPs are going to debate a bill on financing universities. The question remains to what extent it is suitable to start discussing such a matter only a few months before the parliamentary elections, asks Mlada fronta Dnes.

Author: Lucie Moučková
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