Insight Central Europe News


Poland's candidate for Prime Minister, Marek Belka, has been holding initial talks on forming a cabinet to replace Leszek Miller's government which plans to step down on May 2nd. Belka said that he would stick to the outgoing government's austerity programme, but that his team would have an entirely new face. He reaffirmed Poland's military alliance with the United States in Iraq.

Hungary has welcomed its neighbour Romania's accession to NATO. The Hungarian foreign minister told his Romanian counterpart that Hungary would also continue to help Romania in its bid to join the European Union. On Friday the flags of the seven new NATO members were raised at NATO headquarters in Brussels as foreign ministers from the 26 member countries met to discuss various global troublespots, where the alliance is engaged.

Slovaks are voting this weekend in Presidential elections. The result is likely to lead to a second-round poll on April 17th. The campaign has been dominated by two candidates, former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar and Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan.

The former leader of Austria's far right Freedom Party has been elected to a third term as Governor of the province of Carinthia. The Carinthian assembly voted Jorg Haider back in, following his party's victory in elections a month ago.

The Czech Prime Minister, Vladimir Spidla, has criticized restrictions to the movement of labour within the enlarged European Union. Of the EU states only Britain and Ireland have opened their markets fully to the newcomers. Speaking during a visit to Finland, Mr Spidla said that the restrictions against the new countries were based on prejudice rather than reality.

Slovenia's entry into the EU on May 1st will be marked by a human chain over the Karavanken Mountains. Organsiers says up to forty thousand people from Slovenia, Austria and Italy are expected to join hands across the mountains where the borders of the three countries meet


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