Press Review

Once again all the Czech dailies pay much attention to the consequences of the terrorist attacks on the United States. MLADA FRONTA DNES reports that 12 Czechs are still missing - people who last contacted their relatives from New York and have not been heard from since the attacks on the World Trade Center. The Czech Republic's general consul in New York told the paper's reporter that these were people visiting the city and none of them had been working in the Trade Center.

In its economics supplement today's LIDOVE NOVINY looks at the economic consequences of the events in the United States, which could lead to a fall in foreign investments in the Czech Republic. The planned privatization of some Czech enterprises could be threatened, and the boom in foreign investments we had been witnessing is clearly over, the paper adds.

But the director of the government's agency for foreign trade, CzechInvest, Martin Jahn does not believe the decrease in direct investments will be drastic, the paper says. He believes the situation will soon return to normal.

LIDOVE NOVINY also publishes an interview with the commander of the Czech chemical unit, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Weiser. The unit, which became renowned for its successful participation in the Gulf War, is a part of the NATO rapid reaction force. The chemical unit is ready, its commander re-iterates, to take action within three hours on Czech territory, and within 7 days anywhere in the world. Its members are professional soldiers and ready, Lieutenant Colonel Weiser stresses, to function under the most difficult conditions. At the moment the unit is preparing to take part in previously planned NATO maneuvers in Turkey.

The Prague daily PRAZSKE SLOVO comes back to a local problem that has been the topic of heated discussions for some time, namely the funding of repairs to Charles Bridge, one of the most famous historic monuments in Prague. Built in 1357, the bridge has been repaired a number of times. For example in 1890 when a flood tore down three of its pillars.

The last repairs were made in the 60s and 70s, but the waters of the Vltava River have been eroding the pillars to such an extent that new repairs are badly needed - but the problem is, where to take the money to meet the cost. Prague's Mayor Jan Kasl has launched a collection, asking people to contribute, while the mayor of the Prague district, on whose territory the bridge stands, Jan Burgermeister, is opposed to the idea. Charles Bridge, he says, is a national monument and it is up to the city to take care of it from its own coffers. PRAZSKE SLOVO quotes a number of well known personalities, most of whom are willing to contribute, and the city has already collected 7.5 million crowns out of the 100 million it is hoping to receive from donors.

Today's PRAVO criticizes the Ministry of Education's restrictions on teaching children at home. The system is new in the Czech lands, where school attendance has always been compulsory. Three years ago four schools in various parts of the country started trying the new system, enabling children to learn at home, only coming for examinations at the end of the year, and this idea has been gaining in popularity.

Now the Education Ministry has issued regulations specifying that only children with learning difficulties or very gifted children could be taught at home and the schools responsible for them should check the process every month. Which, in effect, threatens the very system of home education, PRAVO says. It adds that the ministry has failed to give a sound reason for restricting home teaching and has not consulted with parents themselves - parents who are motivated by enthusiasm and commitment. On top of that, the article concludes, the new restrictions go against the principles of the ministry's own plans for new legislation on education, which point to individual teaching as a valid alternative.