Press Review

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There is no question that Friday's headlines are dominated by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose postponement of a visit to Prague is being viewed by many as a political snub: but Lidove noviny asks "Is it any wonder?".

There is no question that Friday's headlines are dominated by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose postponement of a visit to Prague is being viewed by many as a political snub: but Lidove noviny asks "Is it any wonder?".

In light of Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman's recent remarks, that liken former Czechoslovakia's Sudeten Germans to traitors, the paper writes that meeting with Mr Zeman would be political suicide for Schroeder, who is facing an election year. Because the German Chancellor is facing tough opposition at home, meeting with Mr Zeman would put him in the unpleasant position of having not only to play hard on the Czech Prime Minister's remarks, but also having to reopen the question of the controversial Benes Decrees.

Lidove noviny also says that in these matters Mr Schroeder is at a clear disadvantage to his political opponents, especially Bavarian leader Edmund Stoiber, and so it is hardly surprising that Mr Schroeder has put off his visit to Prague for now.

Moving on, Friday's Mlada fronta Dnes features extensive coverage of the convention on the future of the European Union, which has kicked-off in Brussels. The paper looks at the three delegates representing the Czech Republic: Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, Civic Democrat Jan Zahradil, and the Freedom Union's candidate Josef Zieleniec; three men on whose shoulders Czech negotiations ride.

Although it is important for all three to find a general consensus, the paper writes that they have only agreed on the basics so far. Mlada fronta Dnes quotes Mr Zahradil as saying the three have agreed to push for an increased role of national parliaments in the EU. The paper adds that they also agree that new member states should be represented in the upper echelons of the EU management, an area that so far has only been occupied by representatives from the current EU states.

And turning to Pravo, today's edition offers a long article dedicated to up-coming elections in the Czech Republic: the promises political parties are making to take a bite out of crime. The paper writes that the pledge to lower the crime rate is a popular one and the paper examines different proposals by the parties. Pravo writes that the Civic Democrats want to tighten their policy on foreign nationals in order to discourage foreigners from committing crimes, and the Freedom Union-DEU want to lower the age of legal accountability to just fourteen.

On to lighter news now, fans will be happy to relive the moment of Ales Valenta's Olympic freestyle aerial all over again in Lidove noviny's weekend supplement. The magazine offers an interview as well as photos of the Olympic gold medal champion, covering the ins-and-outs of a sport that has found a new fan-base throughout the Czech Republic. The interview also covers Ales's rise from being a factory mechanic to being a professional sportsman, and reveals that the Czech athlete has no time for good luck charms, which would only take his mind off the matter at hand.

As we round out this Friday's Press Review we stick with sport and how about Slovan Liberec... The Czech football side is continuing its Cinderella-run in the UEFA Cup after defeating Olympique Lyon to qualify for the quarter-final round. Mlada fronta Dnes writes that the team's Jiri Stejner created pure magic on the field, calling him "The King of Spring". It was Stejner who scored the go-ahead goal in the game's 75th minute: a crucial header that began an avalanche of strikes against Lyon.