Final Word from Friday, July 18, 2003

Premier Vladimír Špidla and his entourage are in the U.S. this week and are looking for a payback from Washington for the CR's position on Iraq. The Czech press has given the impression that a deal is in the works that calls for the Czechs to get contracts in Iraq in exchange for awarding a building contract at Prague airport to Bechtel, the U.S. company overseeing the reconstruction of Iraq. Competitors and some opposition politicians are already sounding the alarm. Czech officials insist that there isn't a link between the two events and that, like with the fighter contract, only objective criteria will be used. The U.S. government and the American Chamber of Commerce have been among those at the fore in seeking transparency in Czech public procurement. The slightest hint that a U.S. company is getting favorable treatment in a tender can only damage these efforts.


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