18-02-2004

There's good news and bad news in today's papers - Czechs might not be able to work freely in the current 15 members of the European Union after enlargement, but they will be able to work in the other nine countries that join on May 1st. Bad news for opponents of abortion, it seems few of the MPs who've received graphic photographs of aborted foetuses have been persuaded to back a bill banning abortion.

Pravo says Czechs might find themselves shut out of EU labour markets on May 1st, when the Czech Republic joins the European Union, but they will be able to work in places like Poland and Estonia. Unlike most of the present EU 15, the 10 accession countries will not place restrictions on each other's labour markets after enlargement.

Speak Polish or Russian? asks Pravo. If the answer's yes, says the paper, then you could easily find work in the Poland, or the Baltic states, or Slovakia, Hungary and so on. However the 10 countries are reserving the right to introduce short-term restrictions to protect their labour markets.

Mlada Fronta Dnes writes that members of the 200-seat lower house are being bombarded with graphic images of aborted foetuses from Czech pro-life groups, as parliament begins discussing the first draft of a law banning abortion. MPs are receiving emails, letters, photographs, videocassettes and even lifelike models of aborted foetuses.

The bill, submitted by Christian Democrat MP Jiri Karas, has little chance of making it past the first reading, says Mlada Fronta Dnes. Many of the MPs say they were shocked and offended by the anti-abortion propaganda. "The blood of the unborn child is the same as that shed at Auschwitz," says Mr Karas. Most remain unswayed by the campaign.

Meanwhile the Prague section of Mlada Fronta Dnes carries details of an operation to count the number of homeless people living on the streets of the Czech capital. Estimates of how many homeless people there are living in Prague vary wildly - from a few hundred to 15,000. This Thursday volunteers from homeless charities will spend two hours - from 8pm to 10pm - counting those sleeping rough on the streets.

Lidove Noviny writes about the escaped prisoner who managed to speed across two international border crossings earlier this week. The driver, apparently a Serb man with a Belgian passport who'd escaped from a Czech prison, managed to force his way across the Czech-Slovak and then the Slovak-Hungarian borders.

The incident began when police at the Lanzhot border crossing with Slovakia stopped a BMW with Belgian number plates for a routine passport control. The driver attacked two policemen, jumped back into his car, and sped across the border. A few hours later he repeated the stunt on the Slovak-Hungarian border. He's apparently rather keen to get back to Serbia, says Lidove Noviny, adding that the Hungarian police have mobilised an anti-terrorist unit and helicopters to track him down.

18-02-2004