Press Review

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Complicated talks on the formation of a new government and Brazil's victory in football's world cup dominate the headlines in Czech newspapers today. Some of the papers also report on what could be called an ultimatum made by four EU membership candidates concerning financial matters after accession.

Complicated talks on the formation of a new government and Brazil's victory in football's world cup dominate the headlines in Czech newspapers today. Some of the papers also report on what could be called an ultimatum made by four EU membership candidates concerning financial matters after accession.

The business daily Hospodarske noviny leads with a report on a stalemate in negotiations between the election winner, the Social Democratic Party, and the centrist coalition of the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, on forming a new cabinet. The potential government partners have found joint positions on many important issues, yet there are eleven chapters of the government manifesto in which neither side is willing to give in.

These include mainly social and economic issues in which fundamental differences between political left and right surface - basically, disputes over the level of re-distribution of wealth in the society. The weakest partner in the talks, the right-of-centre Freedom Union has to decide whether to accept the conditions dictated by the Social Democrats but which are in absolute opposition to the party's programme, or whether to stay in opposition.

However, whereas the Social Democrats can manage without the political minnows and seek other options to form a government, the Freedom Union party would most likely be condemned to extinction if it stays outside the government, writes Hospodarske noviny.

Pravo reports on a new joint position of four EU membership candidates, members of the so-called Visegrad four - the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. The prime ministers of these countries said they would be unable to join if they have to pay the full contribution to the EU budget, which means they would pay more than they got and in effect subsidise wealthier members.

According to Lidove noviny, the candidates chose a harsh tone in an effort to improve their position for the final round of accession negotiations. However, the paper is convinced that such pressure should have come earlier in order to make the EU change the framework of its proposal. The question therefore will be whether the newcomers pay less and have no say or pay the full amount and get proper representation.

Back to Pravo, and the paper analyses the negative impact of the strong Czech currency on the tourist industry. Gone are the times when the Czech Republic was a popular cheap destination of foreign tourists - the country is ever more expensive, which is reflected in decreasing numbers of hotel guests and falling sales of souvenirs.

It is not all bad, writes Pravo elsewhere. The unprecedented strengthening of the Czech crown makes it cheaper to repay foreign debts. The Czech Republic's foreign debt currently accounts for one third of GDP; experts agree that the highest acceptable level is 40 percent of GDP.