Press Review

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All the Czech newspapers today report on the conclusion of negotiations on the formation of a new cabinet. The papers write that now a battle over who will have which ministerial post will break out.

All the Czech newspapers today report on the conclusion of negotiations on the formation of a new cabinet. The papers write that now a battle over who will have which ministerial post will break out.

On other domestic issues, Mlada fronta Dnes writes that relations between the chairman of the Social Democrats, Vladimir Spidla and president Vaclav Havel, are exceptionally good. In an interview for the French newspaper Le Figaro, president Havel described Mr. Spidla as a practical, decent and judicious man, and that - unlike the majority of Czech politicians - he is not exceedingly self-satisfied.

Mr. Havel also praised the atmosphere of the talks on the forming of the new government. 'Politicians seem to realize that they should behave decently and correctly, and that mistakes made in the past should not be repeated,' the paper quotes him as saying. About his main rival, the chairman of the Civic democrats, Vaclav Klaus, the president is quoted as saying that Klaus was going to re-appear soon, and that in a way he admired Klaus for his never-ending stubbornness, writes Mlada fronta Dnes.

Lidove noviny informs its readers about the Czech government's decision that pictures from the famous collection of Vincenc Kramar would not travel to Paris, where The Czech Season - a project introducing the Czech Republic - is currently underway. The cabinet showed firm resolution not to send the priceless pictures out of the country, because it feared that they might not come back.

The main reason for this is the fact, that the collection, worth half a billion US dollars, could be confiscated because of a dispute between the Czech Republic and the American company CME over the commercial TV station Nova. CME sued the Czech Republic for insufficient protection of foreign investment in the country, and although the Americans won the case in international arbitration, the Czech Republic is refusing to pay up, notes Lidove noviny. This makes Czech state property vulnerable to confiscation abroad.

'The government has made concessions to the Vatican concerning church weddings' - reads a headline in today's Pravo. The paper reports that the Czech cabinet has unanimously approved a draft bilateral agreement, that regulates relations between the Czech Republic and the Vatican as well as the position of the Catholic church in this country. The government had originally had plans to require all couples getting married in church, also to have a civil ceremony, but now has agreed with the Vatican not to introduce the change.

And finally, Hospodarske noviny writes that big cultural festivals in the Czech Republic keep their heads above water only thanks to sponsors. The paper writes that big companies with foreign owners prevail, such as Transgas, the Czech Savings Bank or Czech Telecom.

These companies are well aware that the money will come back - writes the paper. It's an investment that in the future will cover the company's costs and ensures rich returns. The paper writes that for instance the Karlovy Vary film festival, which opens on Thursday, is sponsored by Czech Telecom, because the town itself could not afford such a big event.