Insight Central Europe News

05-09-2003

A multinational force led by Poland has taken over responsibility for security in Central Iraq. The force replaces US soldiers. Poland has sent 2,400 troops into the zone.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder used a one-day visit to the Czech Republic to warn against dismantling the draft EU Constitution, saying that dismantling even a part of the draft could make it impossible to put back together. Small and medium-sized countries met in Prague on Monday to discuss changing the document.

The Hungarian minister for Health and Social Affairs, Judit Csehak, resigned this week. Mrs Csehák said she had asked to be relieved of her job in accordance with an earlier agreement with the prime minister. Earlier, there were reports the minister would resign because the health budget would be given 50-70 billion forints (210-300 million US dollars), less than requested.

In the Austrian city of Linz, 12,000 people protested against the sell off of the state's remaining share in the steelmaker Voest Alpine. The government's state holding company has announced plans to float their remaining 35% of Voest Alpine on the stock exchange.

Slovakia's Catholic bishops are stressing the positive aspects of next week's visit by Pope John Paul. It will be his third visit to Slovakia and local media have criticised the cost of security measures.

05-09-2003