15-07-2003

Tuesday's newspapers don't agree on the most important story of the day in the Czech Republic, and lead with everything from tourists left high and dry by bankrupt travel agencies to a plan to attract workers from such countries as Bulgaria and Kazakhstan.

On its front page, LIDOVE NOVINY reports that United States President George Bush is planning to present former Czech president Vaclav Havel with the highest US civil honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Mr Havel is due to receive the honour when he visits Washington next week. Previous awardees include Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela and Simon Wiesenthal.

Vaclav Havel's successor, Vaclav Klaus, is not pleased by the manner in which the Czech Press Agency has been covering his speeches. According to MLADA FRONTA DNES, the president's office complains that CTK's man at the Castle isn't accurately reporting Mr Klaus's statements and paraphrases what he says rather than reporting his actual words.

Czech crown jewels, photo: ctkCzech crown jewels, photo: ctk And staying with Prague Castle, LIDOVE NOVINY carries a photo of the Czech crown jewels being replaced in their chamber on Monday evening, after being on display to the public for the first time in five years. The seven holders of the keys to the chamber, or their representatives, were on hand to lock the historic chamber once again.

The same daily examines the record of Vladimir Spidla's coalition government, exactly one year to the day after it was sworn in. Political scientist Miroslav Mares tells LIDOVE NOVINY he is surprised the government - which has a majority of just one - has survived this long. Another pundit, Bohumil Dolezal, says the cabinet has taken the credit for something which would have happened anyway: the "yes" vote in the referendum on European Union membership. Mr Spidla and co. have also benefited from their "on the fence" attitude to the war on Iraq, he says.

Though it is now almost a year since the devastating floods of last summer, Prague's biggest park - Stromovka - is still suffering the consequences, reports MLADA FRONTA DNES in its Prague section. Park workers have recently discovered that 200 conifers and hardwood trees in Stromovka are suffering from flood-related sickness and have to be cut down. That number brings the total number of mature trees lost there since last August to 600.

The Czech Republic's most popular singer, Karel Gott, turned 64 on Monday. However, reports MLADA FRONTA DNES, instead of partying the night away, Mr Gott ended up in hospital after collapsing at his home. Mr Gott, who has sold an impressive 30 million records over four decades, is not seriously ill, a hospital spokesman tells the daily.

LIDOVE NOVINY carries an interview with the head of the European Brewers' Confederation, who is - appropriately enough, given beer's origins - a Czech. Jan Vesely says his recent election to the post reflects the high regard Czech beer enjoys around the continent. Mr Vesely adds that two litres a day keeps men healthy, while two-thirds of a litre is appropriate for the ladies.

15-07-2003