Insight Central Europe News

29-04-2005

The Polish Catholic Church has called for an investigation into accusations that one of its priests spied on Pope John Paul for the communist era secret police. The Polish institute that oversees former communist files said that Father Konrad Hejmo had informed on the pope in the Vatican during the 1980s. The Polish Bishops' Conference said that the case required a complete and honest clarification. Father Hejmo insists that he never knowingly cooperated with the secret police.

A series of opinion polls have shown strong support for the European Union in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, one year after their entry. Support varies between 70 percent in the Czech Republic and 83 percent in Slovakia, far higher than in referenda that were held before they joined the union. The turnaround has been biggest among Polish farmers, who had feared they would be put out of business, but instead have seen a boom in demand for their products.

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution committing the EU to do more for the Roma minority. The resolution, which is not binding, sets out steps to promote integration and fight discrimination against Europe's largest ethnic minority. The resolution also calls for a pig farm on the site of a World War Two Roma internment camp in the Czech Republic to be removed. Roma MEP Livia Jaroka from Hungary said that accession to the European Union had not done away with discrimination against Roma.

The Czech Republic has a new prime minsiter, ending a prolonged political crisis. The new government is headed by Social Democrat, Jiri Paroubek, and is little changed from the previous cabinet led by Stanislav Gross, who resigned after a dispute over his personal finances. The new government will have to survive a parliamentary vote of confidence in the next 30 days, and hopes to lead the Czech Republic into elections in mid-2006.

The Slovak Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday that Slovakia should vote to ratify the European Union constitution on May 11. Initial debate was interrupted to settle legal questions as to the precise conditions required for the constitution to be approved, and its implications for the Slovak legal system. The ratification will require a three-fifths majority in parliament.

Four people were detained in Budapest on Tuesday, after triggering a radioactive contamination scare near the Hungarian parliament. The incident occurred during a demonstration by Hungarian and Russian activists against the export of nuclear waste to the Urals. The police cordoned off part of the square around parliament, fearing that the demonstrators may have radioactive materials. The fears later proved unfounded.

29-04-2005