Press Review

The forced labour settlement with Austria has naturally received plenty of attention. Mlada Fronta Dnes notes that the multilateral agreement has put an end to the myth of Austria as a victim of the Second World War rather than as one of the aggressors, a myth on which the country's post-war neutrality was built, the paper says. On the other hand it has praise for Vienna's constructive approach and the speed with which the negotiations were concluded, albeit half a century late.

Meanwhile, Lidove Noviny reports on a scandal causing uproar in neighbouring Germany. The German Suddeutsche Zeitung published a report claiming that the Bayerische Landesbank unwittingly co-financed the construction of the Temelin nuclear power plant. The author of the article says there is reason to believe that the Czech power giant CEZ violated the conditions of an agreement with the German bank, using a 280-million-mark loan for construction work on Temelin instead of the planned modernisation of several electric power plants. A spokesperson for CEZ has rejected the allegations, saying that not a single mark of the German bank's money had been used to finance Temelin.

Zemske Noviny features a disturbing headline, claiming that Czechs don't expect much from local self-government. The first elections for new regional authorities are just weeks away, and already the public regards them with a heavy dose of scepticism, says the paper. According to a survey conducted by the Sofres-Factum agency only a quarter of Czechs believe that the newly established regional bodies will bring about an improvement in their everyday lives. Most people see this as an increase in bureaucracy that they will have to help finance, and political analyst Petr Mach tells the paper that there is reason to fear that the chaos which will inevitably mark the first few month of local government will further deepen that scepticism.

Several papers have gone out of their way to reassure the inhabitants of the Cheb region that a warning from Czech seismologists about a possible stronger-than-usual earthquake in the coming days will not put their lives in danger. The warning was intended to prevent panic rather than spread it, experts say. If it happens, the coming quake should be no bigger than 5 on the Richter scale and the public should know what to expect. There has been growing speculation in the region about a big quake, following a series of small tremors in recent weeks. The last quake this size merely damaged a few chimneys and rooftops.

And finally, Mlada Fronta Dnes has an interesting article about a campaign organised by French doctors to ban ads on sweets and junk food. They claim that in the last 20 years the number of overweight children has doubled and that every tenth child is now obese. This is attributed to the amount of junk food and chocolate bars children consume daily. The Czech Republic has a similar problem but so far the Council for Advertising has turned a deaf ear to complaints. The most offensive ad in many respects is the one in which Olympics gold-medal winner Stepanka Hilgertova claims that she feeds her entire family Nutella chocolate spread for breakfast because it is so healthy for the children and gives her the energy she needs. Possibly the fact that as a top sportswoman Mrs Hilgertova must know what 'a healthy diet' means, has led more people than usual to complain about the ad. However the Council for Advertising has so far refused to deal with the matter, because it does not want to get involved in a lengthy investigation as to whether chocolate spread on white bread is healthy or not, the paper concludes.