Insight Central Europe News

07-01-2005

Slovenia's foreign minister, Dimitrij Rupel has praised Ukraine for the way it ran the repeat presidential election in December. He was speaking during a visit to Kiev, a few days after Slovenia took over the rotating presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Mr Rupel said that stability in Ukraine was important for the entire area of the 55-member organization, which includes most European countries. The Slovene Prime Minister, Janez Jansa, said that the OSCE presidency, which will run for twelve months, will be one of his government's key challenges this year.

169 Polish soldiers have left for Iraq to take over from other troops ending their service in the multinational Polish-led force. The new Polish foreign minister, Adam Rotfeld, has said that Warsaw wants to stick to plans to withdraw troops from Iraq by the end of this year. But he said that if Iraqis and the international community in the form of the United Nations, the EU or NATO saw a need for troops to remain longer to help transform the country, Poland may agree.

Hungary is to make it easier for ethnic Hungarians from abroad to gain citizenship or long-term visas. But the Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyucsany, said that the government would continue to oppose granting citizenship to all Hungarians living outside the country's borders. The move follows a referendum in December, when a small majority of those who voted endorsed giving citizenship to all Hungarians abroad. The vote was not binding as the turnout was below the minimum requirement. Up to five million Hungarians live in neighbouring countries, including Slovakia, Romania and Serbia.

The Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic has criticized the cabinet's plan to turn the Slovak National Theatre building, currently under construction, into a cultural and congress centre. According to the president the proposal is too commercial and puts culture in second place. The civic initiative Voice for Culture has written to the president's office, calling for the original strictly non-commercial aim of the building to be maintained. Prominent Slovak actors and opposition MPs have added their voices to those criticizing the government's plans.

Telekom Austria says it will make a share float worth up to one billion euros in order to finance its expansion in south-eastern Europe. The company said the issue will be made "in the near future" as part of a conference with investors "depending on market conditions." Telekom Austria is planning a take-over of the Bulgarian mobile phone operator Mobiltel.

Czech footballer Jiri Jarosik has joined the English club Chelsea from CSKA Moscow. The 27-year-old midfielder joins another Czech, goalkeeper Petr Cech, at the club. Jarosik has signed a six-month loan deal but may sign a full contract with the club in the summer.

07-01-2005