Press Review

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The implications of the Macedonian crisis and the sinking of the worlds biggest oil rig off the shores of Brazil are the leading international stories on today's front pages - but it's Ed Fagan and his battle against the Temelin nuclear power plant who's attracted the most attention.

The famous US lawyer clearly made an attempt to impress local journalists, but today's headlines contain only thinly veiled ridicule. "'I'm normal' - says Fagan at the pub" reports Lidove Noviny. "Ed Fagan: 'I'm just a nice guy'" reads the headline in Mlada Fronta Dnes.

Lidove Noviny's reporter notes that Mr. Fagan pulled out all the stops at the local pub, greeting surprised locals as if they were long-lost childhood friends, showing snapshots of his children to anyone willing to look, and telling all and sundry that he just a nice, normal guy fighting for a worthy cause.

Whatever the locals thought, the commentators were clearly unimpressed. "We all want a safe nuclear power plant, but Mr. Fagan has chosen the worst possible approach" says Martin Komarek of Mlada Fronta Dnes.

"Insults and threats may work in America but here they'll only meet with hostility - both from the government and the public. Because listening to Mr. Fagan's ravings even those of us who are not too happy with Temelin want to defend it against an irrational attack from a foreigner," the author notes.

Temelin IS a problem - but it's political, not legal, says Mlada Fronta Dnes. The Czech Prime Minister was rightly criticised for ignoring concern over Temelin in neighbouring Austria and Hungary. Now that this has been rectified the political problem is well on the way to being resolved.

What the Prime Minister CAN afford to ignore is Mr. Fagan's threats, doubtless with the Czech public's blessing, the paper concludes. Hospodarske Noviny thinks likewise, advising Czech anti-nuclear activists to distance themselves from Mr. Fagan's media campaign, if they wish to be taken seriously.

On the home front, skirmishes between the "opposition allies" and the right-of- centre Four-Party Coalition continue. While the Four-Party Coalition is determined to break the power-sharing deal between the Social Democrats and the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party, the opposition allies have just sent them a message courtesy of the Pravo daily saying that given the chance following the next Parliamentary elections they'd prefer to maintain the present arrangement.

A leading member of the Civic Democrats, shadow minister Jan Zahradil, said that he had consulted foreign policy issues with Vladimir Spidla, the Social Democrat slated to replace Milos Zeman as party leader in April, and found them much closer to his own views that those of the Four-Party Coalition.

The current leader of the Social Democrats, Milos Zeman, told the paper that whatever their other failings, the Civic Democrats have two enormous advantages over the Four-Party Coalition: they were heterogeneous and could be trusted to respect any deal they signed.

And finally, all the papers report on film director Jan Hrebejk's departure for the United States. As Oscar night approaches, the Czech film world is holding its breath, says Zemske Noviny, reporting that Hrebejk, whose latest film "Divided We Fall" is nominated for an Oscar in the foreign films category, left Prague clutching a good-luck charm of St. Mary.

The paper says the film has a 20 percent chance of winning - but Hrebejk himself told journalists he was sceptical about his chances. "I've made a long list of reasons why I think we can't win - but I'm getting Oscar-night fever already so maybe I'll prepare a thank you speech as well" one of the most popular Czech film directors told reporters before boarding his flight.