Insight Central Europe News

27-10-2005

The chances of a majority government being formed in Poland following last month's general election are fading. The two centre-right winning parties, which previously promised to rule together, are increasingly divided, especially since the conservative candidate, Lech Kaczynski overhauled his liberal rival, Donald Tusk, to win last weekend's presidential election. The zloty has weakened, as financial markets had hoped the two parties would put together a strong government. The outgoing President Aleksander Kwasniewski warned that failure to reach agreement could lead to early elections.

Political leaders in Central Europe have been trying calm public fears over a possible bird flu pandemic. Hungary's Poultry Product Council took a full-page advertisement in a national newspaper saying there was no epidemic in the country. A number of dead pigeons found in the south of the country were shown to have died from pesticide poisoning, and a similar scare in Slovenia was also shown to be unfounded, when a dead swan was found not to have the virus. The European Union has halted live bird and some poultry imports from neighbouring Croatia, where authorities have begun the slaughter of ten thousand birds in an area where a case was discovered in swans.

Slovakia will back the Czech Republic's bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2008-2009. This was confirmed by the Foreign Affairs Minister Eduard Kukan after meeting his Czech counterpart Cyril Svoboda on Monday. The Czech Republic hopes to succeed Slovakia, which was chosen on October 10 as a non-permanent member of the Security Council for 2006-2007. During talks both foreign ministers also expressed support for the earliest possible entry of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU.

The Austrian government has been shaken by the disastrous result of the junior coalition party in local elections in Vienna. The Alliance for the Future of Austria, which was founded by the far-right Jörg Haider earlier this year when the Freedom Party split up, won just over 1% in the Austrian capital, failing to get representation in the provincial assembly. This led to speculation about a possible cabinet reshuffle.

Just days after a spate of food quality scares in the Czech Republic, a series of similar shortcomings have been revealed in supermarkets in neighbouring Slovakia. The State Veterinary and Food Inspection found shortcomings in about one in six retail outlets checked. The most serious violation was the repackaging of meat and its further sale for human consumption. Currently the maximum fine in Slovakia is 25,000 euros.

27-10-2005