More than one whistle-blowing farmer is shown on the cover photographs of most of today's dailies, after some 3,000 protested at the Office of the government in Prague on Wednesday for fear of worsening economic conditions in the agriculture sector. Pravo shows a crowd of angry farmers holding up a banner that, roughly translated, reads "You've given us the boot".
More than one whistle-blowing farmer is shown on the cover photographs of most of today's dailies, after some 3,000 protested at the Office of the government in Prague on Wednesday for fear of worsening economic conditions in the agriculture sector. PRAVO shows a crowd of angry farmers holding up a banner that, roughly translated, reads "You've given us the boot".
But, farmers' concerns aren't the only thing making headlines today: with the NATO summit to be held in Prague quickly approaching, defence issues are coming to a fore. Writes PRAVO it remains unclear whether the U.S. will help provide air defence during the summit, since the Czech Air Force is not up to the task, at least, not on its own. On Wednesday Minister of Foreign Affairs Cyril Svoboda met with the U.S. Ambassador to Prague in an attempt to reach an agreement.
PRAVO says, however, that the U.S. doesn't really want such a role, since it would require quickly signing an international agreement that would waive foreign soldiers' accountability in the case of damages in an accident or attack. To make matters worse the Foreign Ministry has not prepared any such agreement, which would also have to be passed by the U.S. Congress. Still, the paper writes, the Czech government has not given up, weighing other legislative solutions to remedy the dilemma at hand.
A vote of 61 out of 63, how's that for re-election? LIDOVE NOVINY writes that the academic senate of Charles University gave Rector Ivan Wilhelm a strong continuing mandate on Wednesday, that will last from 2003 to 2006. The paper writes that the rector's aim now is to turn Charles University into an internationally recognised institution, with its Masters students taking part in international research projects. The re-elected rector said it was important that as many students as possible studied at least one semester abroad.
In other news the Czech cabinet is looking for ways to appease junior coalition partners the Freedom Union to support a long-term budget plan. Currently the Freedom Union is at odds over how the government should help pay off state debt in the coming years. HOSPODARSKE NOVINY writes that Freedom Union MP Hana Marvanova insists the plan include the possibility of reducing debt by using future proceeds from privatisation.
According to the paper Ms Marvanova has stipulated the inclusion of such terms as a trade-off for her support of next year's budget proposal; HOSPODARSKE NOVINY reminds readers that the failure for the budget proposal to pass in a first reading would have serious consequences for the government - in line with an earlier coalition agreement, the Freedom Union would have to leave the cabinet, which would certainly shake things up in Czech politics.
"They've survived the crisis and they can't complain." writes MLADA FRONTA DNES, meaning 80s pop stars - not politicians - who feared they would be relegated to the dustbin of communist relics after 1989. Since then, Communist-era singers like Petr Kotvald, Helena Vondrackova, and Michal David have reinvented themselves for new Czech audiences. Writes MLADA FRONTA DNES, performer Iveta Bartosova has sexy new clothes, and new seductive looks, in a video now out on Czech TV screens. The irony? The song is from 1987.