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Press Review
12-11-2003 - Ian Willoughby

The front pages of today's Czech newspapers carry reports on the finding of a bugging device in the car of MP Josef Hojdar and the government's plan to bail out heavily indebted hospitals, while the plan to build at national sports stadium also receives a lot of attention.

Vaclav Klaus Vaclav Klaus, photographed in several of today's papers, has been president of the Czech Republic for over six months. However, it seems that some people are still not used to him in that position: in Brno on Tuesday Mr Klaus was twice introduced as "President Vaclav HAVEL", writes MLADA FRONTA DNES. The first faux pas was made by the governor of south Moravia, Stanislav Juranek, with the second slip of the tongue coming from Brno mayor Petr Duchon, who is a member of Mr Klaus's Civic Democrats.

It seems, however, that Mr Klaus is used to being confused with his predecessor: he told people in Brno that he had also been addressed as "Mr Havel" at a recent meeting of Visegrad Four presidents.

There are only 20 Romany teachers in the whole of the Czech Republic, writes HOSPODARSKE NOVINY. Viktor Sekyt, who deals with Romany issues at the Office of the Government, tells the daily that if Romanies get to university, they tend to study medicine or law rather than go into teaching. That is partly because teaching is not well paid, he says.

In the town of Broumov one in nine citizens is a Romany, though only four Romanies there have passed school leaving exams, or maturita. That situation can change, says 29-year-old teacher Lenka Kurova, who is herself a Romany. She tells the daily her aim is to motivate her Romany pupils - six out of a class of 19 - to complete elementary school.

Lenka Kurova says, however, that some members of the Romany community no longer regard her as one of them since she became a teacher. Despite that, the school's head teacher says Ms Kurova is better able to deal with Romany parents than other teachers. If we castigate them, we are afraid they'll accuse of us of discriminating against them, the director tells HOSPODARSKE NOVINY.

The issue of discrimination against Romanies is also raised by MLADA FRONTA DNES, after President Klaus told BBC TV that he would not discuss the question, because it was nonsense. Commentator Martin Komarek draws attention to the number of Romanies who have been killed in racially motivated attacks in the Czech Republic in the last decade.

It is simply a fact that most Romanies live in worse conditions than white Czechs, the article continues, adding that many institutions try to help Romanies and most white people do not act against them. Surely, says the author, it would have been better for President Klaus to say 'Romanies are normal citizens, and the fact they live in poverty is a big problem for the whole country. And we have to do something about it.'

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