Insight Central Europe News

11-11-2005

Poland's new government has won a confidence vote in parliament, but only thanks to the support of smaller parties which are sceptical of market reforms and the European Union. The centre-right Law and Justice Party of Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, has promised to stamp out corruption and red tape, and to continue Poland's commitment to the US led coalition in Iraq. After last month's election, the party, which embraces traditional conservative and Roman Catholic values, failed to strike a coalition deal, as originally expected, with the pro-business Civic Platform that came second.

The Czech Agriculture Minister, Petr Zgarba, has resigned over a controversy around the agency that oversees the sale of state land. He denied having advance knowledge of the sale of lucrative parcels of land to speculators, some of whom were associated with the fund. The Prime Minister, Jiri Paroubek, said he was confident Mr Zgarba had nothing to do with the sale, but added that he expected the new minister, Social Democrat member of parliament, Jan Mladek, to prevent such practices occurring in the future.

Over 3,000 Slovaks joined a protest on Wednesday in Bratislava to denounce neo-Nazism and all forms of extremism, which have seen seven people killed in recent years. The rally was in response to the murder last week by neo-Nazis of a 21-year-old student. The murder sent shock waves through Slovak society, with celebrities and politicians declaring war on extremism. The Deputy Prime Minister, responsible for human rights issues, Pal Csaky, said that he had come to support the idea of zero tolerance for neo-Nazi crimes.

Hungary has gassed around 200 chickens in a rehearsal of the country's ability to deal with an outbreak of bird flu. The virus has been detected in neighbouring Romania and Croatia among migrating flocks. Officials said that a bird flu outbreak could cost Hungary hundreds of millions of dollars if it remained unchecked.

The presidents of Slovenia and Croatia have vowed to resolve the dispute over their shared border on the Adriatic coast as soon as possible. They agreed that experts from both countries should try to find a solution acceptable to both sides, and that if they fail, the dispute should be put in the hands of an international court. The dispute, over a short stretch of coastline at the northern end of the Adriatic, dates from the time when both countries broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Vienna's famous Spanish Riding School is to have a new boss. She's Sissy Max-Theurer, who won a gold medal at the Olympics in Moscow in equestrian competition. The Riding School has faced financial problems recently and Ms. Max-Theurer hopes to promote young riding talents and become involved in the breeding programme of the famous Lipizzan horses used at the school.

11-11-2005