Press Review

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The EU commission on the Temelin nuclear power plant, the stranglehold of hypermarkets on food prices and an interesting method for keeping bears away from people in the Czech Republic all feature in today's daily newspapers. Nick Carey has been flicking through them, and joins me now with today's edition of Press Review.

All of the papers today deal with the news that the EU council of ministers has set up a commission to investigate the Temelin nuclear power plant. The move was initiated by the Austrians, who have been opposed to Temelin for years. While most Czech papers are digesting this news today, Petruska Sustrova wonders in LIDOVE NOVINY what effect this will have on relations between the Czechs and the Austrians. She writes that the EU cannot ban Temelin, and the whole commission may be in vain. But, the Czechs can expect that some politician or another here is going to start crying out that the Austrians should not be interfering in our affair, and some Czech politicians, she points out, are just the right men for the job. Will this intervention in Czechs affairs help relations between the two countries? Probably not, but sometimes there is no other option. What if your neighbour starts burning tyres in his garden, Sustrova asks. If you can't resolve the issue with him, then you involve the authorities. And in just the same way, Temelin bothers the Austrians a great deal, and in just the same way as neighbourly disputes, it could damage relations a great deal, Sustrova concludes in LIDOVE NOVINY.

ZEMSKE NOVINY comments today on the rise of the hypermarket in the Czech Republic, and the impact this is having on suppliers. Hypermarkets keep prices down, the paper says, which is good news for consumers, who flock to these massive superstores to take advantage of this. The problem is, say suppliers, and in particular farmers, that the prices demanded by hypermarkets are so low that many of them face bankruptcy. The figures for prices certainly back up their claims, the paper notes. The prices for many foodstuffs have risen only marginally in the past six years, while for some items the prices have even dropped. Chicken meat, for instance, now sells for about twenty percent less per kilo than in 1994. On their own, farmers and suppliers don't stand a chance when negotiating prices. One chicken farmer, who refused to give his name, said that he criticised two or three supermarkets for their pricing policies, and in return they ceased making orders from his company. The farmers are fighting back, though, they are forming large organisations to negotiate prices collectively. These organisations have also called for minimum prices to be fixed, to protect them, but also to protect small shop owners, who are also being forced out of business, ZEMSKE NOVINY concludes.

And in an interesting piece in CESKE SLOVO, park preservationists in the Beskydy Hills in North Moravia are taking strange measures to teach bears how to be afraid of people. The bears have recently returned to the hills from Slovakia, and are beginning to show a remarkable indifference to human beings. The bears are getting closer and closer to human habitation, raising fears of bear attacks. One local resident was confronted by a bear a few months ago, but used a chainsaw to frighten it off. Tourists on bicycles have also encountered bears recently, and have then been forced to beat a hasty retreat. The park preservationists have adopted a measure used by their Slovak counterparts, and are using special rubber bullets to scare them away. All it takes, says one local expert, is about ten shots with rubber bullets to scare the bears off and teach them to respect and fear people, and keep their distance. Other preservationists in nearby regions apparently have no intention, however, of taking the same measure, saying that these bears are a protected species, and that there is no need fear them, because they pose no threat to people.