Press Review

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Following claims that the South Korean car manufacturer, Hyundai Motors planned to build a car facility worth tens of billions of Czech crowns in Northern Moravia, Jan Smid in Mlada fronta Dnes analyses the reasons behind the influx of foreign investment. The Czech Republic may be one of the most successful countries as far as attracting foreign investors is concerned, but it fails to lure investment in more modern and demanding projects such as the production of computers, software, and medicine. Smid believes that the problem does not lie with the investors but rather in the fact that the Czech Republic has nothing to offer in this field.

Welcoming new factory projects will help solve unemployment but won't help the country catch up with the rest of the world, Smid says and adds that investors will ultimately pull out of the country in favour of the better conditions offered in Ukraine and China. The country needs to learn the ways of the West, by acquiring the skill, know-how, and ability and to quickly offer what the investors require. Jan Smid puts the blame on the low number of skilled and educated people. This, he says, is due to the missing two billion Czech crowns promised to universities by the Czech government as well as the lack of skilled teachers. In order to improve the country's situation, the Czech approach to science and education will have to change, Smid concludes.

Lidove noviny looks at the reasons behind Wednesday's decision by the cabinet to bring the local Semtex factory 'Explosia' back under state control. Coincidentally, the decision to do so was made on the same day that the appeal hearing began in the Netherlands for the Lybian secret service agent convicted of blowing up a Boeing 747 over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988. Semtex was used to cause the explosion, which killed 270 people.

The paper also writes that Explosia was close to either being dissolved or sold to a foreign company, a move which would have deeply affected the Czech army, which receives much of its munitions from the factory. Finding a new supplier would probably mean a two-year waiting period for the supply of some military components. The factory's sale would furthermore risk having documents on the systems of weapons, or even worse on the production of Semtex, get into the wrong hands, the paper concludes.

Pravo's Oto Novotny looks at the recent developments in Czech-Austrian relations, focusing on Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman's recent statements, which have resulted in widespread protest. Czech and international reaction to Austria's petition against the Temelin nuclear power plant was sober. Even all of Austria's political parties, except for the Freedom Party, distanced themselves from the petition. There were restrained reactions until Mr Zeman entered the scene and connected the Austrians with the Nazis. That was not diplomacy but a mistake, according to Novotny. Czech-German understanding over past events that was built up with such difficulty in the 1990s, is now shaking to the ground. There is no reason to praise Premier Milos Zeman for what he said about Haider even if it were partly true, Novotny writes.

Martin Komarek in Mlada fronta Dnes concentrates on Mr Zeman's claim that only people with little intelligence could sign the anti-Temelin petition. Calling a group of people idiots just because they voice their own opinion is not normal, according to Komarek. He then goes on to analyse what events in Czech current affairs really have been normal. It was not normal, he says, when Zeman hurled the same insults, with the same intensity at people in his own country. He continues that it is not normal when a media mogul, meaning TV Nova's Vladimir Zelezny, suspected of fraud dominates the television market and manipulates public opinion. It is not normal when political leaders applaud him for this, whilst hinting at Zelezny's suspicious contacts with Speaker of the Lower House and the leader of the main opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS) Vaclav Klaus.

It is not normal when the Czech President Vaclav Havel uses his speeches as weapons in political struggles but claims that he is politically unbiased. Neither is it normal if - as revenge - other politicians say that he is an ageing monarch. After this look at the degree of normalcy in the country, Komarek concludes that those Czechs who believe that they are normal have been living at least for the fourth consecutive year in a country which is not normal since they have elected abnormal politicians. He ends his commentary by asking "are us Czech voters not idiots?".