Press Review

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Czech papers are a mixed bag today, because there were no newspapers in the past two days, which were national holidays here in the Czech Republic. In the meantime, stories to comment on have cropped up, chief among which doubtlessly is the continuing saga of the Temelin nuclear power station in southern Bohemia. The plant is now being stoked with nuclear fuel, its launching seems quite imminent, but environmentalists are not giving up their crusade against what they see as a liability and huge risk for the nuclear safety of Central Europe. Here's Libor Kubik with a review of Friday's press.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY believes that the dispute over Temelin, although conventionally presented in the media as a battle between the utility sector and environmental activists, is in fact a political issue, which must be resolved by political means. The paper thinks that arguments raised by the energy industry, ecologists and experts have always played a subordinate role and that Temelin will be completed and launched is a forgone conclusion.

MLADA FRONTA DNES describes the controversial power station near the Austrian border as a hugely expensive, poorly managed and hopelessly inefficient project. A true skansen of communism, the paper says, and a strange legacy of totalitarian megalomania. But the worst thing is that not even the right-wing governments found the courage to either stop construction work or install a more efficient management. The incumbent Social Democrats squandered the opportunity to appease environmentalists when the government gave Temelin the final go-ahead last year. Prime Minister Milos Zeman and his team must have known that all statistics for Temelin were padded up to suit the interests of the nuclear lobby, and ignored expert reports indicating that this country really doesn't need Temelin to meet its power requirements, concludes MLADA FRONTA DNES.

LIDOVE NOVINY looks into yet another problem which could reduce the international standing of the Czech Republic. The first 30 obsolete, Soviet-era T-55 tanks that the government has decided to sell to Yemen are on their way to Aden and the rest of the shipment will follow suit in the autumn. The land and sea route as well as other details of the contract are being kept under government lid, the paper notes, offering an analogy with Poland, which faced an international scandal last year after some of the surplus tanks it sold to Yemen were intercepted in Sudan -- a country under an international arms embargo. On the other hand, LIDOVE NOVINY admits that the deal may be advantageous for the Czechs in that it would cost this country more to scrap the aging relics of the Cold War era than to pay the price of shipping them away. The net profit from each tank sold amounts to 100,000 crowns -- the price of a used Skoda car, the paper notes.

ZEMSKE NOVINY describes the Czech system of special schools as the ethnic majority's revenge for the Roma community's way of rearing their children so differently from the rest of society. By sending Roma children to schools for underachievers, Czechs automatically reduce children from ethnic minorities to second-rate citizens, who are strangers in their own country. The education minister, Eduard Zeman, has proposed that, for the sake of political correctness, all these special and auxiliary schools be closed and Roma children be sent to normal primary schools instead. But unless teachers succeed in overcoming their bias against Romanies, this will be only a cosmetic change. The paper explains that Roma children are used to other types of communication than those practiced by today's teachers, a vast majority of whom are non-Romanies. So, rather than schools with a changed name, what Roma children need are open-minded educators and unclogged communication channels between them, their parents, and the schools they attend, ZEMSKE NOVINY suggests.

Author: Libor Kubík
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