Press Review

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President Havel opening an exhibition on the lives and work of Czech expats in the United States, his idea of a future United Nations; members of the Czech Olympic team posing for photographers in Sydney; and the OPEC agreement which has brought a wave of relief not only in Europe--those are the dominant stories on all front pages today.

Zemske Noviny is concerned about the Czech Republic's sinking ever deeper into debt. This year's deficit alone is a staggering one hundred billion Czech crowns, roughly two and a half billion dollars, or almost a sixth of the state budget for the year 2000, and officials of the Czech National Bank claim that the governing Social Democrats resolve their problems by creating more and more debt. Independent analysts are equally critical, noting that the former right-wing government of ex-premier Vaclav Klaus shares the blame, since it first started creating institutions intended to cover up the state's billion-crown losses. The Social Democrats are continuing this practice, and our main problem today is a lack of "debt-transparency", says the president of the Liberal Institute, Jiri Schwarz.

Both Lidove Noviny and Mlada Fronta Dnes have reacted to the recommendation of the 'three wise men' regarding the lifting of sanctions against the Austrian government. Lidove Noviny notes that the sanctions were not very effective in view of how they radicalized public opinion in the country. However, it sees one positive aspect of the matter in that for the first time the EU has addressed an issue not linked to monetary or economic policy, but which is important for the Union's future. Mlada Fronta Dnes agrees that the sanctions against Austria should be lifted, but it is of the opinion that the Freedom Party and Mr. Jorg Heider should remain in isolation. The future of Europe depends on whether it can open itself to people of different races and nationalities, the paper says. The society which the likes of Mr. Heider are advocating is one of intolerance, hatred and ultimately war.

And finally, Jiri Bigas of Slovo has a few words to say about the Olympic Games. The Olympic Games have drifted very far from the original concept, Bigas says. Guns are no longer silenced during the Olympics and the games have become one big business. Sport in general has changed for the worse. Winners are paid staggering sums of money for which they often resort to doping. The people in the audience pay large sums to get good seats for the show, but increasingly they put themselves in the hands of plastic surgeons to achieve the Greek ideal of beauty of body and spirit. And all the while, ad companies rake in enormous profits. The challenge we all face is to try and reverse that trend, the author says.