Press Review

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The growing rift between the Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has become a front page topic and snapshots of the two men together clearly portray tense relations. The papers note that, more than ever, the two officials are pulling in different directions foreign policy wise, with the Prime Minister ploughing ahead regardless of the diplomatic consequences, leaving the Foreign Minister to make his own explanations to outraged foreign officials.

The growing rift between the Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Foreign Minister Jan Kavan has become a front page topic and snapshots of the two men together clearly portray tense relations. The papers note that, more than ever, the two officials are pulling in different directions foreign policy wise, with the Prime Minister ploughing ahead regardless of the diplomatic consequences, leaving the Foreign Minister to make his own explanations to outraged foreign officials.

Pravo notes that the incident in the Middle East, when the Foreign Minister unexpectedly cancelled a planned meeting with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, but met with Israeli top officials, has dealt his candidacy to the post of UN Secretary General a bad blow. The fact that, as the Foreign Minister implied, this was done on the order of Mr. Zeman, makes little difference the paper says, Mr. Kavan will most likely now loose crucial support from the Arab states.

The two officials clearly have trouble coordinating their European foreign polices as well, notes Mlada fronta Dnes. Just two hours after the Foreign Minister had pronounced Czech-German relations to be "at their best ever" the Czech Prime Minister launched a vicious attack against the Bavarian Prime Minister and Conservative candidate for Chancellor Edmund Stoiber, comparing him to the politicians of the Third Reich. The paper shows a snapshot of a scowling and tight-lipped Mr. Kavan with the caption " Thanks a lot, Mr. Prime Minister".

While sensitive WWII issues create tension in central Europe, NATO and Russia are currently basking in goodwill, and all the papers report on their joint summit in Italy at which they are expected to create a new security cooperation forum. This truly symbolizes the end of the Cold War, says Mlada fronta Dnes of the partnership which is expected to give Russia an equal voice on certain security issues.

Who will govern this country for the next four years? As election day draws near there is increasing speculation as to the options. Lidove noviny notes that the upcoming general elections will also decide who will be the future Czech president, since the choice is expected to be a matter of political consensus or, as commentators say, a division of power between the parties of the future governing coalition.

The paper has presented readers with nine possible options in all of which the Prime Minister is either the leader of the Social Democrats Vladimir Spidla or the head of the Civic Democrats Vaclav Klaus. The three men closest to the presidency - according to the paper's forecast - are the current Speaker of the Senate Petr Pithart, Vaclav Klaus and Milos Zeman - depending on which way the tables turn in the elections.

Every day now readers get the results of various opinion surveys on election preferences, voter turnout and selected quotes from politicians. The papers keep readers up to date on the parties' election programmes and policy priorities, and Martin Hekrdla of Pravo adds a few words of advice to readers: be skeptical of self-praise and assess everything that is said and done through the prism of the general elections.