Insight Central Europe News

23-05-2008

The United States says Poland will have to meet most of the costs of updating its own defence services. Stephen Mull, the senior US official leading negotiations with Warsaw over US missile bases on Polish soil, told journalists "the Poles had grand dreams" but would still have to pay for most of what they wanted. Warsaw has been pushing for a military upgrade package from the US in exchange for hosting parts of a US missile defence shield.

Hungary is considering the purchase of L-159 military training aircraft from the Czech Republic. Defence minister Szekeres says the Russian Mig-29 is slowly being phased out and newer aircraft will be needed to keep pilot flying hours at the required level. The minister said other options did not seem as cost efficient as the offer from the Czech Republic.

A new play by former Czech President Vaclav Havel has received a standing ovation at its premiere in Prague. The play, "Leaving", is about the leader of an unnamed country who leaves politics after many years in power and has to adjust to a new life. Havel was a playwright and dissident during communist times and led his country in the Velvet Revolution of 1989. He served two terms as President.

The Slovenian Presidency of the European Union says it hopes to start talks on a new partnership agreement with Russia at a summit in June. Slovene foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel, speaking in Brussels, welcomed agreement on launching the partnership talks with Russia after addressing Lithuanian concerns over so-called "frozen conflicts" on Russia's borders. The deal ended 18 months of objections by former Soviet satellite states that are now EU members.

Slovakia has won a hotly-contested seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. Slovakia won its seat in the Eastern European group, defeating Serbia and the Czech Republic. 15 seats out of 47 were up for grabs on the Geneva based council which replaces the U.N.'s widely discredited Human Rights Commission.

German airline Lufthansa has said it is interested in buying Austrian Airlines. The announcement came after a deal with a Saudi born millionaire to invest 35 million euros in Austrian collapsed. The airline announced substantial losses in the first quarter of this year, and there is widespread agreement it will face difficulties surviving on its own.

23-05-2008