Insight Central Europe News

09-04-2004

A United Nations report on poverty in Central Europe has warned that groups like the Romany minority in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary face growing marginalization. It calls for specific action to be taken by governments to prevent an unemployable underclass developing. The report states that overall standards of living in the region are rising, but that the gap between rich and poor is growing.

The International Monetary Fund has urged Poland to cut its public debt, saying that it was the country's central macroeconomic problem ahead of entry into the European Union. An IMF official said that Poland had reached a point where fiscal adjustment had become critical.

The Slovene government has survived the resignation of five ministers, after one of the coalition parties carried out its threat to leave the government when it failed to force the sacking of the interior minister. The government's majority is now sharply reduced.

Three days of motorway blockades by Austrian environmental protesters this week were designed to cause maximum disruption as the Easter Holidays began. The protesters are demanding less heavy vehicle traffic. They point to surveys which show poor air quality in narrow Alpine Valleys is causing health problems.

Fourteen years after the fall of communism, Budapest's city fathers are to strip Stalin of his title as honorary citizen of the city, granted in 1947 in acknowledgement of the Soviet liberation of the city. Up to now Stalin has retained his special status because of a legal technicality, which did not recognise the current city council as successor to its predecessor nearly sixty years ago. The council's resolution points to Stalin's "grave crimes against humanity."

09-04-2004