Press Review

Almost all the papers today carry front-page pictures of javelin thrower Jan Zelzeny, who won his third consecutive gold medal at the Olympic Games in Sydney. Zelezny was voted Czech athlete of the year last week, then received the further honour of being elected international athlete of the year. Most of the photographs in the papers today show a smiling Zelezny picking up his well-deserved award in Monte Carlo at the weekend.

LIDOVE NOVINY today discusses a comment made at the weekend by the Czech Republic's special envoy to the EU, Otto Pick. Mr Pick said the Czech Republic wouldn't be ready to join the EU in 2003, which is the accession date repeatedly mentioned by Foreign Minister Jan Kavan. Mr. Pick says the Czech Republic is more likely to join the EU by 2010. There are several reasons, he told LIDOVE NOVINY:

First, the EU has to complete its internal reforms before it takes on new members, which could take a lot longer than planned. Second, the Czech Republic has to fulfil all conditions for membership, and finally, the Czechs cannot join without Poland. Poland is a big country, says Mr. Pick, and has great strategic significance for the EU. The problem is, he says, Poland's massive agricultural sector could cause long-term problems for the country's membership, and as a direct result, for the Czechs.

It's been ten years since the last census was held in what is now the Czech Republic, says MLADA FRONTA DNES today, and the Czech authorities are getting ready to hold another one next year. Thousands of census commissioners will descend on towns and villages throughout the country to count not only people, but pets, cars and domestic appliances. The only problem is, says the paper, that many people will simply refuse to speak to the commissioners. In a test run held in 1999, up to thirty percent of households refused to participate.

HOSPODARSKE NOVINY today deals with an admission by newly elected senator Helena Rognerova that, prior to the collapse of communism in 1989, she applied for membership in the Communist Party. Mrs Rognerova, whose application was interrupted by the Velvet Revolution, says she was forced to seek party membership by her boss. The Four-Party Coalition, which Mrs. Rognerova will represent in the Senate, says it does not expect any problems from the revelation, as the new senator didn't hide the information and told the coalition about it before she ran for the Senate.

CESKE SLOVO today discusses the unwillingness of Miroslav Macek, the deputy chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats, who is usually quite talkative with the press, to discuss his business activities. Mr. Macek has been a member of the board of ten companies, three of which have gone bankrupt, and three more of which are heading the same way. To prove his reluctance to talk, CESKE SLOVO interviewed Mr. Macek, who told the paper that his business dealings were his own affair, and that there was no point in asking him any questions about it. People can speculate as much as they want, says Mr. Macek, it won't make any difference.

Christmas is once again just around the corner, says LIDOVE NOVINY, and shop owners are unanimous in their predictions for the biggest-selling gifts this year. Top of the list are the annoying little metal scooters that seem to have become immensely popular throughout the world over the past year or so. Next up are Pokemon action figures, and somewhat surprisingly, electric toothbrushes. That just leaves the question of how one can play with all of them at the same time.

And finally, MLADA FRONTA DNES deals with the bizarre story of a Czech woman living in Bratislava, who has been unable to gain Czech citizenship. Sixty-five-year-old Jarmila Papsova comes from an old East Bohemian family, but was born in Subcarpathian Ruthenia, which was part of Czechoslovakia until the Second World War, as her father worked there as a teacher. Mrs. Papsova grew up in her family's home town of Dvur Kralove, and went to school there. However, she's been living in Bratislava for the past thirty years, and when Czechoslovakia split at the end of 1992, she was automatically given Slovak citizenship. She has applied for Czech citizenship, but has been turned down, so finds herself in the bizarre situation of being a foreigner in her own land.