Insight Central Europe News

21-04-2006

Students in Slovenia have held their biggest rally since independence in 1991 to protest against planned government reforms they say would make them poorer. The Slovenian Student Organisation said some 10,000 students and high school pupils gathered in the centre of Ljubljana. They oppose the introduction of university fees and higher taxes on students' part-time earnings, part of a government reform package aimed at increasing economic growth.

The Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and his Socialists look likely to remain in power after this weekend's second round of parliamentary elections. In the first round two weeks ago they beat the right of centre Fidesz party, which was further weakened by a split in the right-wing vote. The first challenge of a new government will be to reduce the country's budget deficit, the highest in the European Union relative to the size of the economy.

The Czech Republic has expelled a senior Cuban diplomat, in a tit-for-tat response to the expulsion of Czech diplomat Stanislav Kazecky from Havana last week. Mr Kazecky was accused by the Cuban authorities of subversive activities and working for the USA. The Czech Foreign Ministry dismissed the claim. Czech-Cuban relations are tense, as Prague has been urging the European Union to adopt a tougher stance towards the country's hardline communist regime.

The three-week long strike by healthcare workers in Slovakia looks set to continue. The strike committee chief, Marian Kollar, said that protests would go on until the government met their demands. These include higher wages and a stop to sweeping market-oriented reforms. The widespread protests have come just weeks before parliamentary elections are due in June.

Poland has welcomed the support of the Israeli Holocaust museum Yad Vashem in a debate over the name of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Poland wants the camp officially renamed to make clear that Nazi Germans rather than Poles were to blame for it. It has proposed the official name: "The Former Nazi German Concentration Camp of Auschwitz". Warsaw has been angered by references in the foreign media to Auschwitz as a Polish camp.

Police in Slovakia have charged seven people, including three police officers, with smuggling people into Austria and Italy. Officials allege that migrants, mostly from Ukraine and Moldova, were provided with fake documents and smuggled across the border in trains. If convicted the suspects face up to eight years in jail.

21-04-2006

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