Insight Central Europe News

25-08-2006

Poland is considering sending 700 soldiers to southern Lebanon as part of an expanded United Nations peace-keeping force. According to the foreign ministry, no political decision has yet been taken as the terms of relations between the peace-keeping force and the Lebanese army as well as Hezbollah guerrillas have yet to be specified.

Poland's Self-Defence says it will walk out of the ruling coalition should deputy defence minister Antoni Macierewicz fail to provide evidence justifying his recent allegations against a number of foreign ministers. Mr Macierewicz said earlier this week that most of the Polish foreign ministers in office since 1989 were Soviet spies. Agriculture minister and deputy prime minister Andrzej Lepper has threatened to call for Mr Macierewicz's dismissal, if no evidence is provided by Monday supporting the accusations. Should there be no dismissal Self Defence will leave the coalition, Andrzej Lepper says.

The political fallout in the Czech Republic is still being felt following Thursday's collapse in coalition talks between the Civic Democrats who won the recent general elections and their rivals, the Social Democrats, who came in second. On Thursday Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek abruptly ended negotiations between the two sides, saying that they could not find common ground on the future government's policy programme. Mr Paroubek said he would try to form his own cabinet with the help of the Christian Democrats, and received a positive response from the Christian Democrat leader, Miroslav Kalousek. After a meeting between the two, Mr Kalousek said he was in favour of a coalition government even if it meant leaning on the Communists for support. He has since gained approval from his party's leadership in the move.

Slovak MPs from the opposition Christian Democrat Vladimir Palko and Pavol Minarik have submitted to Parliament an amendment to the law on broadcasting and transmission. According to the amendment, the media will not under any circumstances be permitted to promote people, who due to their lifestyle, behavior or activities can be viewed as having a criminal background or connections. Mr Minarik says that creating a positive image for itself in the media is one of the typical features of organised crime. The amendment states that if the law is repeatedly broken, the minimum fine would be multiplied by the number of violations of the law in the previous 12 months.

A moment of silence was observed in Hungary this week to remember the victims of Sunday's storm. Heavy rains and winds up to 120 kilometers per hour hit Budapest while over one million people watched a fireworks display and an air show. Five people were killed and hundreds injured when the storm broke out. The event was held to celebrate St. Stephen's Day that honours Hungary's first king.

An Austrian school girl who disappeared in 1998, sparking a huge police search, has reappeared after apparently being held captive by her kidnapper for the entire time. Police say relatives have identified Natascha Kampusch after she was found in Lower Austria. DNA have confirmed her identity. The 44 year old man, suspected to have abducted and held Natascha for 8 years, has committed suicide. The young woman escaped from her kidnapper's home in a village near Vienna where she had been confined in a garage since her abduction.

Hungary should be able to join the ERM II system of requirements for adopting the European currency between 2007 and 2009, and then enter the Euro-zone between 2011 and 2013, Finance Minister Janos Veres told reporters on Friday. Mr Veres said the government discussed the draft euro plan in a first reading on Thursday, and the plan would be presented to trade unions, employers' organisations and parliamentary parties next week. The plan is due for submission to the European Union by September 1.

25-08-2006

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