Insight Central Europe News

04-11-2005

Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic have strongly denied the presence of secret CIA run detention facilities on their territory. According to Wednesday's edition of The Washington Post, the CIA's most important Al-Qaeda captives are held and interrogated at a Soviet-era compound somewhere in Eastern Europe. The daily wrote such sites were set up under a global network in eight countries after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

While the Hungarian government says it was never approached by the USA or any other state, the Czech Interior Ministry admitted on Wednesday that Prague declined a request one month ago to consider granting asylum to Guantanamo Bay detainees who were not linked to the Al-Qaeda and may face persecution in their home countries.

Poland's conservative leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said on Friday he was counting on support from anti-reform radical groups in next week's confidence vote in his party's minority cabinet. Talks between Mr Kaczynski's Law and Justice Party and Donald Tusk's Civic Platform (both rooted in the Solidarity movement) broke down in a dispute over parliamentary and cabinet posts as well as economic policies. The pro-business Civic Platform said it would not back the minority conservative government in the confidence vote.

Armed robbers on Monday night cleaned out over 400 safe-deposit boxes in Slovenia's SKB bank, in what is dubbed the country's biggest heist. Using a valid pass code, at least three robbers entered the safe deposit building in Ljubljana. They tied up the two security guards and spent seven comfortable hours breaking into the safe deposit boxes. The SKB bank is a Slovenian unit of France's Societe Generale.

The lower house of the Czech Parliament has approved a series of tax cuts which will primarily benefit people whose monthly income is below 30 thousand crowns. The bill was approved unanimously, although the opposition Civic Democrats criticized the ruling coalition for not effecting tax cuts which would benefit higher income groups as well. Finance minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the measure would affect 90 percent of all tax payers and would reduce income into state coffers by an estimated ten billion crowns. Approximately four million people would save around four thousand crowns per year. The bill has yet to be approved by the Senate.

Slovakia will support Croatia in its EU membership negotiations, President Ivan Gasparovic said at a joint press conference with his Croatian counterpart Stipe Mesic on Thursday. President Mesic, who was on a two-day official visit to Bratislava, welcomed the offer saying Slovak negotiators in Brussels worked "efficiently, quickly and with success". The EU opened accession talks with Zagreb last month. Croatia hopes to join the EU in 2009 but has been given no target date by the bloc.

04-11-2005