There have been mixed reactions from Central Europe to the European Commission's recommendation that the EU begin membership talks with Turkey. Slovenia's foreign ministry welcomed the decision. The Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said he would support the process, as did the Czech Prime Minister, Stanislav Gross, although both said it would be a long time before Turkey finally joined. Poland's Foreign Minister, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz described Turkey as the best example of a democratic state in the Islamic world. The chairman of Slovakia's parliament Pavol Hrusovsky, said that Turkey needed to do more work in protecting human rights, and the head of Austria's far right Freedom Party, Ursula Haubner, condemned the Commission's recommendation outright. She said that her party, which forms part of Austria's ruling coalition, would vote to block Turkish membership.
Poland's Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz has played down a mention of illegal Polish arms sales to Iraq mentioned in a CIA report. He said that it would not cause any problem between Poland and United States. The report presented names of firms internationally which conducted trade with Saddam Hussein's regime despite the UN embargo imposed on Iraq in 1991, and included several firms from Poland.
In a phone call to US President Bush the new Hungarian Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsany, has said that Hungary will seek continuity in its foreign policy. Hungary has so far been a staunch ally of the United States in Iraq, but amid growing public discontent, has not yet decided whether to keep its 300-strong transport battalion in Iraq beyond the new year.
The surprise winner of last weekend's Slovene general election, Janez Jansa of the centre-right Slovenian Democrats, has said that there will be no dramatic policy changes in the country. Both sides of the political spectrum favour early adoption of the euro in 2007 and a gradual privatization of large state-owned companies. It is not yet clear whether Mr Jansa will be able to put together a majority right-of-centre government.
The Austrian novelist and playwright Elfriede Jelinek has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Swedish Academy praised what it called her "musical flow of voices and counter-voices" in her novels and plays. Ms Jelinek is known for her highly critical analyses of Austrian society and is best known for her 1983 novel 'The Piano Teacher', which was made into a movie in 2001. The 57-year old writer was born to a Czech-Jewish father and a Viennese mother.
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