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March 8, 2006

Editorial review from the opinion pages of the Czech press

Russian President Vladimir Putin came and left; we could easily say that his visit offered nothing significant but it is worth considering the words spoken during his stay that tell us there are things to remember, Jan Ryb writes in Mlad fronta Dnes March 3.

The documents signed were unimportant and hardly anything significant was heard during the talks on raw material deliveries. But this is true about most state visits. Still, historians and political analysts must remember Putin’s words on Russia’s moral responsibility for the 1968 invasion, which he called a tragic event.

In our part of Europe, this makes sense. However, many Russians still believe Soviet tanks came to Prague to save us. The fact is that it’s not very fashionable to talk about 1968 in Russia. And that’s why it’s worth remembering Putin’s words, which in a way amount to an indirect apology. At the same time, we have to see that this was no planned statement: Putin made it while answering a question at the press conference.

One state visit alone cannot improve relations, which are neither entirely bad nor entirely good. However, there was one difference. After listening to politicians’ speeches for two days, one could easily get a headache from the word that’s been repeated over and over again: pragmatism. In other words: We don’t have to love one another, but that shouldn’t prevent us from moreorless standard communication.

The important thing is that we are able to reach an agreement whenever possible. Pragmatism improved relations between Moscow and Washington. U.S. President George W. Bush and Putin don’t pretend to be great friends; they only keep saying that many issues are worth talking over without any emotions. For Prague and Moscow, too, this is the best way to go, Ryb writes.

Many still believe the Green Party is a group of halfcrazed people lost in space and time but the fact is that the party has forwarded a platform full of discipline, realistic thinking and words that cut to the point, Alexandr Mitrofanov writes in Prvo March 3.

And the party’s regional leaders have avoided promoting their own personalities. Instead, each one speaks of a part of the election program, the part for which he or she is responsible.

Dana Kuchtov, hitherto known as an antinuclear activist, has now said she’s no longer an NGO member; she has to learn how to act in this new role. The Greens admit that immediate or early abolition of nuclear energy is just a dream. That is why environmental protection has remained an important issue of the party’s program, but not the most important one.

The party proposes abolishing high school and university admission tests, rejects tuition fees and wants to limit Parliament members’ immunity. Other issues could be seen as more controversial: child adoption by homosexual couples and an environmental tax that would increase energy prices.

The idea of covering higher teachers’ wages from money obtained through reducing corruption in public tenders and rolling back bureaucracy is weak. Just as weak is the promise to stamp out corruption our political class is used to it, and a few idealists will hardly cure this illness.

But the Green Party is not necessarily lost in space and time. It is the only Czech political party possessing nearterm perspective cognizant of the day we will run out of oil. Those with small children cannot avoid considering life in a future world, Mitrofanov writes.

Compiled by Petr Kapar

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