Insight Central Europe News

23-07-2004

The Polish government is taking seriously Wednesday's internet threat by an alleged Arab terrorist group that it will carry out attacks in Poland and Bulgaria if they do not pull troops out of Iraq. Prime Minister Marek Belka said that Polish security services had no information that would indicate an immediate threat, but that it was important to be cautious.

The government in Slovenia has decided to launch an investigation into why many buildings were damaged by last week's earthquake that left one dead and several injured, despite repairs that followed a previous tremor six years ago. Nearly two hundred people have had to leave their homes, and are staying with relatives or in emergency shelters.

The three parties of the Czech ruling coalition have agreed to nominate the outgoing Prime Minister, Social Democrat Vladimir Spidla, for the post of European Commissioner. Mr Spidla said that he would take up the post if he received an official offer. Mr Spidla would replace the current Czech commissioner, career diplomat Pavel Telicka.

And staying with the EU, Poland's Janusz Lewandowski has been elected chairman of the European Parliament's Budget Committee, one of the parliament's most important posts. 53-year-old Lewandowski served as privatization minister in two Solidarity governments in the 1990s. He was elected to the European Parliament as a member of the conservative Civic Platform, the strongest opposition party in the Polish Parliament.

An Austrian participant in the failed bomb plot to assassinate Hitler in July 1944 is to be given a memorial plaque in his home country. Colonel Robert Bernardis was hanged by the Nazis for his involvement, but up to now the Austrian authorities had declined to give him a memorial. The Austrian defence ministry decided to put up the plaque after coming under pressure from the media and the opposition.

Slovak MEP Edit Bauer complained in Strasbourg on Wednesday that MPs of her party, the Hungarian Coalition, do not have the opportunity to speak Hungarian in the Slovak parliament in Bratislava. She said that there had been great progress in minority rights in Slovakia, but that this issue still needed to be settled by an amendment to the rules of procedure in the Slovak parliament, which rule out the use of languages other than Slovak. The leader of the Slovak opposition SMER party, Robrert Fico, said that the request was excessive, and helped to stain the image of Slovakia abroad.

23-07-2004

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