Press review

Riot in Haiti, photo: CTK

The situation in Haiti, where the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of a multi national force, fills the front pages of all Czech dailies. "The fall of a dictator", reads the lead headline in today's Mlada Fronta Dnes reporting that Haiti today is a mixture of euphoria and chaos. Closer to home, the situation in eastern Slovakia, where the Roma minority has been looting shops in protest of lowered social benefits, remains at the centre of attention.

Riot in Haiti, photo: CTK
Pravo reports on the dispute between the Slovak President and government on how to handle the crisis -with President Schuster urging Prime Minister Dzurinda to call off the army and police. The government has taken a hard line against the offenders, while the President is in favour of negotiations and wants to use his presidential right to amnesty Roma women who are in custody for looting, the paper says. However the main focus of attention is on the possibility of a Roma exodus to the Czech Republic, should the Slovak government fail to resolve the problem.

Slovak Prezident Rudolf Schuster with Roma people, photo: CTK
On the domestic scene, Mlada Fronta Dnes says the Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla spent eight hours in hospital over the weekend, getting a thorough medical examination, following his collapse in parliament a week ago. Doctors were worried in case there was a hidden heart problem, the paper says but the test allegedly ruled out any serious medical problem, confirming the earlier verdict that the Prime Minister was suffering from exhaustion.

Meanwhile, Lidove Noviny reports that the opposition Civic Democrats and the Christian Democrats of the ruling coalition are unwilling to bury their hostilities with regard to the country's future EU commissioner Pavel Telicka. The two parties claim that Mr. Telicka was not a good choice due to the fact that he was once a member of the communist party and claim that they know nothing about his views today. Lidove Noviny says they are determined to see him replaced after six months in office by someone more suitable.

In an interview for the same paper, Mr. Telicka himself says that his one time communist party membership is not something he is proud of but that he had never made any effort to hide his past. People were aware of my past and a discussion about it at this stage of my career seems pointless and counterproductive. These attacks could complicate my position in Brussles and damage the Czech Republic's name abroad, Mr. Telicka said.

He pointed out that the EC president Mr. Romano Prodi knew the facts and had voiced support for his candidacy, as had many other people. The more vicious the attacks from some politicians, the more support I get from others, Mr. Telicka said, expressing thanks to all who had sent him mails and SMS messages in the past few days.

Sale of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, photo: CTK
And -from the cultural scene - there are detailed reports of the Academy Awards and naturally there is some disappointment over the Czech film Zelary's failure to win an Oscar in the foreign firms category. As far as Czech kids are concerned none of this matters. They are over the top - having finally got their hands on the Czech translation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Bookstores launched the sale with a bang -at midnight on Saturday - and despite the late hour thousands of Czech kids cued up to get their hands on a copy.