Insight Central Europe News

05-08-2005

The new Hungarian President, Laszlo Solyom has been inaugurated in Budapest. The former chief of the constitutional court was voted in by parliament in a third round of elections in June, after defeating the candidate of the ruling socialists.

Protests have been continuing in the Czech Republic against the way police broke up a techno music rave last weekend. They used teargas, water cannon and batons, and dozens of party goers and police were injured. The police action has divided Czech society. The Prime Minister, Jiri Paroubek, said there may have been isolated incidents of police brutality, but that the action was necessary to uphold the law. President Vaclav Klaus and his predecessor Vaclav Havel both condemned the police intervention.

Poland has refused to apologise to Russia over the mugging of three teenage children of Russian diplomats and their Kazakh friend. Moscow said that fifteen young attackers shouted anti-Russian slogans as they beat the teenagers, and has called for an official apolgy. But the Polish ambassador in Moscow said that it was an attack of skinheads against children, not of Poles against Russians. The incident comes at a time of diplomatic tension between the two countries.

Firefighters have succeeded in putting out Slovakia's worst forest fire in 60 years and a state of emergeny has been lifted in the High Tatra Mountains. Nearly 250 hectares of woodland near the border with Poland were destroyed, just months after high winds caused devastation in parts of the same region. A spokesman from the High Tatra national park said it would take up to 15 years for the trees to grow back.

The Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel has said that a multitude of separate trade agreements in Southeastern Europe ought to be replaced by a free trade zone. Speaking at a meeting in Salzburg attended by prime ministers and other top officials from Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia-Montenegro he said that such a zone could promote growth in the region and that an integrated market would attract more investors.

The chairman of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Slovenia's Foreign Minister, Dimitrij Rupel, has said that the organisation may have to re-focus on fighting terrorism. He said that all 55 member states are confronted with the problem of terrorism, and that the OSCE needs to take its role. On Monday the organisation celebrated the 30th anniversary of its founding principles, the Helsinki accords.

05-08-2005