Press Review

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Today's Lidove noviny carries a headline which readers are unlikely to overlook. "Chemical and biological weapons to be tested on Czech soil" the headline reads. According to the paper there is a lack of such training centres in Europe, meaning that European NATO members would have to fly their experts to the United states for training in chemical warfare. The Czech military has suggested a solution - offered one of its military sites in southern Moravia for that purpose.

Today's Lidove noviny carries a headline which readers are unlikely to overlook. "Chemical and biological weapons to be tested on Czech soil" the headline reads. According to the paper there is a lack of such training centres in Europe, meaning that European NATO members would have to fly their experts to the United states for training in chemical warfare. The Czech military has suggested a solution - offered one of its military sites in southern Moravia for that purpose.

Anti-chemical defense is something that Czech military experts excel in -Lidove noviny says- and the military clearly wants to strengthen its position in NATO by further building on its achievements in this sphere. However this is a serious matter that merits public debate. Before the government approves such a plan it should inform the public in detail what the project entails and in particular find out what people living in the vicinity think of the idea.

Why are Czech courts releasing long-wanted criminals? According to Mlada fronta Dnes the latest amendment to the criminal code has presented judges with a problem - an article relating to the length of custody can be interpreted in two different ways. As a result people charged with large scale fraud are being released, to the chagrin of police who have worked long months to track them down. In several cases the Supreme Court has had to step in to reverse the judge's decision.

On a different topic, Pravo notes that there's been a drop in public support for EU membership. According to the latest poll results only 41% of Czechs are in favour of joining the EU - a fact ascribed in part to the ongoing controversy over the Benes Decrees and in part to the way that individual parties present EU membership in their election programmes.

All leading political parties in the Czech Republic agree on one point - there is no viable alternative to EU membership for the Czech Republic. However in presenting themselves as "defenders of nationals interests" they have managed to turn the EU into a threat. How ironic, that these scare-mongers should damage the country's chief national interest by pretending to defend national interests, Pravo notes.

There is no love lost between rival politicians at election time , but in some cases the existing hostilities reach a point of absurdity. This was painfully obvious at the unveiling of a monument to the victims of communism in Prague. The mayor of Prague 1, a member of the Civic Democratic Party, which is at odds with President Havel failed to invite the head of state, himself a former dissident, to the unveiling ceremony because he had allegedly "made no significant contribution" to the monument, whatever that means.

He further failed to invite the Prime Minister Milos Zeman and the Speaker of the Senate Petr Pithart allegedly because they had once been members of the communist party. The mayor did invite some Christian Democrat and Social Democrat party members but they refused to attend saying that they considered the event to be a Civic Democrat election rally. President Havel later visited the memorial alone. The confederation of political prisoners who had looked forward to the event said they were stunned by this shameful display of tactlessness.