Press Review

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A day after the Czech ice-hockey team said farewell at the Olympics, fans had reason to cheer again, after the Czech women's cross-country ski team had an unexpectedly strong finish in the 4x 5 km cross-country skiing relay on Thursday.

A day after the Czech ice-hockey team said farewell at the Olympics, fans had reason to cheer again, after the Czech women's cross-country ski team had an unexpectedly strong finish in the 4x 5 km cross-country skiing relay on Thursday. Today's Pravo features a cover photo of a slim and determined Katerina Hanusova coming into the finish at Salt Lake City's Soldier Hollow, just over a minute off gold winners Germany.

Although the Czech team finished fourth, just outside of the medals, the strong showing was a welcome surprise. The fourth place finish is the best Czech women have had in the relay since the Sarajevo Olympics of 1984. Pravo quotes trainer Stanislav Fruhauf who praises the ladies for " wonderful skiing".

Turning now to today's Mlada fronta Dnes it's all about the Benes Decrees, with growing political pressure from Austria, Germany, and now even Hungary, to have the decrees abolished. The Benes Decrees sanctioned the expulsion of two-and-a-half million Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after WW II, and the annulment of the decrees is a debate almost all Czech politicians would like to avoid. Now, the paper reports, the Civic Democratic Party's leader Vaclav Klaus has attempted to cut off any discussion, by proposing a legal clause in the Czech Republic's accession agreement to the European Union, which would uphold the validity of the decrees once and for all.

But such a proposal is clearly not without it's risks - as seen by Mlada fronta Dnes commentator Karel Steigerwald, who suggests Mr Klaus's proposal could have the effect of "provoking" the Czech Republic's EU neighbours. Mlada fronta Dnes also quotes Pavel Telicka, the Czech Republic's head negotiator for EU accession, who fears that lumping the question of the decree's validity together with entering the EU, could actually make it more difficult for the Czech Republic to join.

Mr Telicka also stresses that "EU accession" and "revision of the Benes Decrees" were issues that had always been kept separate on the negotiating table, supposedly for good reason: the Czech Republic's EU neighbours could try and stipulate the abolishment of the decrees as a necessary step to accession.

Moving to another compelling issue - is Prime Minister Milos Zeman really in danger of being pushed out of office just four months before the end of his mandate? Earlier in the week the prime minister provoked international outcry, as well as criticism at home, by comparing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to Adolf Hitler... Lidove noviny reports that the Czech opposition Coalition bloc, made up of the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union has been calling for Mr Zeman to step down.

But the paper writes that the Prime Minister does not really have to worry he'd lose his job. The paper points out that the largest opposition party, the Civic Democrats, have resolutely denied supporting a vote of no-confidence, which has been proposed by the opposition Coalition bloc. And because the Coalition has refused to work with the Czech Republic's Communist party on the issue, it seems clear Mr Zeman can rest easy, at least on the home-front.

And finally, the last thing we look at in today's Press Review is Friday's Hospodarske noviny, which features an interview with Czech war photographer Jan Sibik in its weekend magazine. The article, titled "I no longer have any taboos", features Mr Sibik's insights into his profession and his credo on photographing situations and people in extreme conflict: he says that for him it is important "to be everywhere where social injustice is found, to document the situation and show the photographs to as many people as he can".

And, the subjects of Mr Sibik's photographs are painful and disturbing beyond a doubt. The magazine offers examples of Mr Sibik's work, which focus on starvation in the Sudan, bombed out houses in former-Yugoslovia, and the clash of anti-globalisation protestors in Prague. Always central in Sibik's photographs: the human being in his moment of suffering.