Polish President rallies behind Ukraine's bid to join the EU

04-09-2004

The Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has rallied behind Ukraine's aspirations to join the European Union. He accused the EU of ignoring Ukraine's European ambitions, and said that if the union decides to begin entrance talks with Turkey, it should also offer hope to Ukraine. EU officials have expressed doubts about the depth of democracy in Ukraine in the run-up to presidential elections later this year.

The Czech foreign ministry is considering tightening security measures for embassy staff in Iraq after the car of the Czech ambassador to Iraq Martin Klepetko came under fire on Wednesday. The ambassador himself was not in the car at the time of the incident and the two bodyguards travelling in it were unhurt. A spokesman said the Czech Foreign Ministry was cooperating with Iraqi police to determine if Wednesday's attack was directly aimed at the Czech ambassador.

The Croatian government says it will help buy land in Austria near where many thousands of Croats died in an incident at the end of the Second World War. As Croatia was being liberated from its pro-Nazi regime, thousands of fleeing Croats, some of them soldiers loyal to the Nazis, but also many civilians, were massacred by vengeful Yugoslav troops near the Austrian village of Bleiburg. Zagreb says it will donate around 100,000 euros towards buying and maintaining land and a memorial to those killed. The incident continues to arouse controversy in Croatia.

The leader of Poland's ruling Democratic Left Alliance has said that parliament should call an early general election for the end of May next year. Although its popularity now seems to be increasing under new Prime Minister, Marek Belka, the government has been under pressure to call an early poll, following corruption scandals from before he took over. For early elections to be possible, they have to be approved by a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Slovakia has opened its first boarding school for Roma children, as part of a pilot scheme to improve education for the country's Roma minority. Children at the secondary school in the town of Zvolen will have extra teaching in information technology and foreign languages, and will also have classes in the Romani language. The aim is to help create an educated Roma elite, but the project has caused controversy, as some Roma organizations have said that taking the children from their families amounts to forced assimilation.

The Hungarian authorities have destroyed 60 tons of paprika imported from Spain and Brazil, after health officials found them to contain toxins. The hot, red spice has been one of the staples of Hungarian cuisine ever since it was introduced by the Turks in the 16th century, and Hungarians consume 6,000 tons every year.

04-09-2004

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