Press review

President Vaclav Klaus and the Dutch Prime Minister Peter Balkenend, photo: CTK

Stony faces in place of polite smiles on the front page of Lidove Noviny: the visit of the Dutch Prime Minister Peter Balkenend to Prague passed under a cloud of displeasure after the Dutch head of government announced that his country would allow Czechs only limited access to the Dutch labour market after the Czech Republic joins the EU in May. The Czech Prime Minister has threatened reciprocal action, says Pravo, but given the number of EU countries which are adopting a wary stand and restricting access to their labour markets such a policy would merely antagonize relations in the EU and have a counter productive effect, the daily notes.

President Vaclav Klaus and the Dutch Prime Minister Peter Balkenend,  photo: CTK
For the first time in the country's history a judge has been charged with fraud - after allegedly helping the mafia to arrange a series of bankruptcies in selected firms and helping himself and his partners to enormous sums of money. According to Mlada Fronta Dnes the "profits" from just two of these rigged bankruptcies amounted to 75 million crowns. The practice came to light when the judge went for the big league and organized the bankruptcy of Union banka. Within four days some very suspicious facts emerged and the judge was arrested on the orders of the President and Prime Minister, the paper says. The judge now faces up to ten years in prison. On a different topic Pravo reports that due to a lack of initiative and know how in the regions, the Czech Republic could have serious problems accessing EU funds for various projects. There are some bright exceptions but in general the regions have a problem presenting projects in a convincing manner. The EU will also demand a great deal more when it comes to documenting how money provided by the EU has been put to use, the paper says.

Mlada Fronta Dnes has devoted a full page to discrimination on the labour market. Under the heading "I have a child and want to work - is that so bad?" the paper features a number of real live stories sent in by women who have been repeatedly turned away by employers -for having children or for being over the hill. Mothers with children and women over 50 are the worst off, the paper says. And the anger is all too obvious from one of the headlines - a quotation from a woman's letter - "they must think I have amniotic fluid in place of a brain!"

Mothers with children often find doors slammed in their faces, says Mlada Fronta Dnes. The assumption is that they will be distracted and take endless days off taking care of sick kids. The only way to get around that is to lie and say they are childless -which is not advisable, the paper says. As for women over 50 one of them says she would gladly trade her university degree for a birth certificate dated ten years later.