Insight Central Europe News

13-01-2006

European Union justice and interior ministers have given broad backing to a plan for dealing with sudden influxes of illegal immigrants or asylum-seekers. Meeting in Vienna, they agreed to create "rapid intervention teams" with mobile pools of interpreters, case-handlers and even psychologists from across the EU to help national authorities to interview asylum-seekers and to ascertain their status and country of origin.

Poland's conservative minority government has averted an all-out confrontation with the opposition over the 2006 budget, but political tensions remain strong. Failure to agree a budget could lead to early elections. The Law and Justice Party won an election in September, but failed to create a majority government. It has come under growing pressure to form an alliance with smaller parties, some of which are strongly Eurosceptic and opposed to the pace of economic reforms. The government is keen to secure these parties' support in the budget vote.

During a visit to Prague the Hungarian president Laszlo Solyom has thanked the Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek for a gesture of reconciliation over the treatment of Hungarians in Czechoslovakia after World War II. Just after the war, the country's Hungarian and German minorities were stripped of many of their rights, in some cases even if they had been active anti-fascists. Mr Paroubek said that an apology made last year by the Czech government to German anti-fascists who had suffered in the post-war period, also applied to Hungarians.

The Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic has accused successive governments since the country gained independence 13 years ago of failing to take care of Slovaks living abroad. The president said that many Slovaks abroad were in positions that could help Slovakia economically or politically. He also promised to get involved personally in trying to retain the international broadcasts of Slovak Radio.

New statistics reveal that a record 600,000 cars were manufactured in the Czech Republic last year. Almost 500,000 of those vehicles were produced by Skoda Auto, with the rest made at a plant opened by Toyota and Peugeot Citroen last February. The Toyota-Peugeot Citroen plant has the capacity to make many more cars, up to 300,000 a year. A similar number could be produced by Hyundai, if, as expected, it builds a plant in the east of the country.

13-01-2006

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