Press Review

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The Czech papers rarely feature so many prominent figures in one edition, but the intellectual gathering Forum 2000 has given reporters a field day. There are snapshots of the Dalai Lama lighting a candle at St. Vitus' Cathedral, former President of the South African Republic F.W. de Clerk chatting with former Israeli Prime Minister Simon Perez, Jordanian Prince Hasan Ibn Talal and Russian human rights activist Sergej Kovaljev. Those are just some of the VIPs invited to Prague by President Havel this week.

And of them all it's the Dalai Lama who has received the most media attention. As always whenever he comes to Prague at the President's invitation there are protests from China and a subsequent debate in the papers as to whether the President was right to invite him. Lidove Noviny carries a full-page spread on the Tibetan spiritual leader, and on the sympathy and support Tibet has aroused among Hollywood celebrities, mentioning the films Seven Years in Tibet and Kundun.

The controversy over the Temelin nuclear power plant is still getting plenty of attention from the press. Pravo has an interview with Frantisek Janouch, a prominent Czech nuclear physicist, who claims that with Westinghouse technology Temelin is now more modern than the nuclear power stations operating across most of Europe. But there's plenty of negative comment to be found as well. For instance, Karel Hvizdala of Mlada Fronta Dnes showers criticism on the Czech government, claiming it was displaying an arrogance comparable to that of former Soviet leaders in their dealings with communist Czechoslovakia.

One cannot blame the Austrians for worrying. When they see the sorry technical state of some Czech vehicles on their roads, they can't be blamed for thinking that Czechs are equally 'benevolent' about the state of their nuclear power stations, Hvizdala says.

Lidove Noviny has a new angle on Temelin today, reporting on expected meteorological changes in the vicinity of the plant. For people living close to Temelin the news is not good--apart from the fact that their view of the surrounding countryside has been ruined, they can now expect "more rain, frost and fog and fewer sunny days". The experts in question hasten to add that these changes will be so slight that people will barely notice the difference.

As usual the papers also carry various tidbits of information about Czech politicians. Civic Democratic Party leader Vaclav Klaus, who has just made friends with the Internet, is reported to have made his first Internet purchase: a Benny Goodman CD. And ex-Justice Minister Otakar Motejl was in cracking form when interviewed by Lidove Noviny. Asked how he felt after his two years in office he said, "it's like a very bad hangover." When questioned about his candidacy for the post of Ombudsman he joked "It's what I always wanted to be when I was a boy."