Insight Central Europe News

18-02-2005

The Polish Prime Minister, Marek Belka, has rejected calls that he should resign, following his government's failure to push through key healthcare reforms. He also refused to accept the resignation of his health minister. Elections are to be held by this autumn at the latest, but Mr Belka said that forcing an early poll through the collapse of the government would create a period of chaos.

The Slovak government has approved an order allowing the country's armed forces to shoot down planes as a last resort if Slovakia's airspace is violated by civilian aircraft. The government has adopted the provision in the run-up to the Bush-Putin summit next week, although the Defence Ministry says that the timing is a coincidence.

Austria's ranking as an Information Technology business location has slipped from 9th in the world to 21st according to a survey by the World Bank and World Economic Forum. In comparison neighbouring Switzerland improved from 16th to 7th place. The "Network Readiness Index" also puts Austria well down the list of internet broadband connections. At a press conference on Thursday the head of Telekom Austria, Heinz Sundt, used the data to call for less market regulation of the telecommunications sector.

Roma campaigners in Hungary say they have forced an internet website to remove a game called "Gypsy Action" in which players were invited to ethnically cleanse the country of its Roma minority. The Roma Press Centre said that the game offered players a variety of firearms and if they managed to wipe out the entire Roma population, the country turned white. The centre added that the site had had more than 4,000 visitors in a few days of operation.

The Czech Republic's dominant telecommunications company, Cesky Telecom, has announced plans to expand to foreign markets. The company's director said they had generated record consolidated revenue last year and could afford to ponder foreign investment.

An exhibition is under way in Warsaw's Polish Army Museum, devoted to Napoleon and the Poles. Some 100,000 Poles fought alongside the most famous leader in French history for Polish independence, and today Poland is the only country in the world to include a reference to Napoleon in its national anthem. Mementos on show include a lock of his hair and paintings depicting the Poles fighting alongside their French allies.

18-02-2005