Press Review

The Czech Republic's controversial Temelin nuclear power plant comes alive and that's the single most important topic for the country's press today. Libor Kubik joins me in the studio now with a look at Tuesday's papers.

The main domestic issue today is Temelin, of course, and all papers carry extensive coverage of the plant's launch yesterday, amid fierce protests in neighbouring Austria and in the presence of Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY believes that the plant's only adverse impact on the environment will be a dramatic change of water conditions in the Vltava River basin. That would be the only legitimate cause for environmentalists to protest against. However, the paper points out, in the case of anti-Temelin activists, the end seems to justify the means. Czech protesters remained tactfully silent about the fact that the plant will save an estimated 14 million tons of brown coal annually, that it doesn't emit lethal greenhouse gases, doesn't consume oxygen and it generates much less radioactivity than a desulphurised coal-firing electric power plant. Plus, it will create thousands of jobs and thus stimulate workforce mobility.

On the same topic, LIDOVE NOVINY highlights the political aspects of Temelin. Prime Minister Milos Zeman, the paper says, fully grasped the message of his late colleague Lenin. Comrade Lenin used to say that communism equals socialism plus the electrification of Russia. The Czech premier updated this dictum to suit his purpose: a society which would be friendly to everybody equals the Social Democratic Party plus nuclear energy. Inaugurating projects in the presence of top party and state brass is one of the best traditions of this hard-working nation, LIDOVE NOVINY quips, tongue in cheek. Launching Temelin in the dead of night carries yet another symbolical meaning. It shows that the government is vigilant and at work while most of us common citizens are sound asleep after the day's toil. The government's message to all its people is, sleep well, you are in the right hands.

Away from Temelin and up north we go--to Poland, whose ex-communist President Aleksander Kwasniewski was returned to power by a landslide election victory on Sunday. HOSPODARSKE NOVINY points out that the elections produced quite a few surprises although Kwasniewski's win had been expected. One is that his arch-rival, Marian Krzaklewski, finished a poor third after having ridiculed Kwasniewski's affront to the Pope. Clearly, the paper says, Solidarity is losing its appeal in Poland.

LIDOVE NOVINY thinks the leftist candidate's victory could preview the outcome of Poland's next parliamentary elections. Ironically, Poles, who don't have much sympathy for anything left-wing, have failed for various reasons to support a credible right-wing government. And MLADA FRONTA DNES believes that in the coming years, Poland will be in need of a strong president who would press for the needed reforms. The incumbent right-wing government's performance in this field is sloppy at best and Mr. Kwasniewski has done his utmost to delay reform, the paper says.

And finally, back home, Czech bakers plan a 30-percent price rise on their products. ZEMSKE NOVINY predicts the rise will be gradual. The 75 hellers (.75 Kc) one pays for a salted roll today might soon become one crown twenty. The reason why we are likely to pay more for bread in the near future is due to the rocketing world prices of wheat. But the paper doesn't say what will happen to rye bread as the prices of rye have actually stagnated.

Author: Libor Kubík
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