Insight Central Europe News

Slovakia to adopt euro next year

Slovakia has got the green light to adopt the common European currency the euro next year. The European Commission said on Wednesday the country was ready to switch to the currency now shared by 15 states, crowning years of ambitious economic reforms. If, as expected, it receives the go-ahead from European Union finance ministers in July, Slovakia will become the fourth of the states which joined the EU in 2004 to adopt the euro. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank acknowledged Slovakia’s meeting of euro zone benchmarks, but said it was worried about its ability to keep inflation down.

Hungary to take over command of Kabul airport in October, send more troops

Hungary will take over command of Kabul international airport from October and plans to send more troops to Afghanistan next year as part of its commitment to NATO, Defence Minister Imre Szekeres said last weekend. He said Hungary would send 60 troops to take over command of Kabul airport for a period of six months. The country already has 210 soldiers in Baghlan province helping with reconstruction work.

Prague hosts major international conference on missile defence

The Czech Foreign Ministry on Monday played host to a one-day conference on missile defence, with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Rood among the key-note speakers. The conference focused on US and European perspectives on missile defense and explored the possibility of incorporating a planned US radar base in the Czech Republic and an interceptor missile base in Poland into a future NATO defense system.

Pass tax and budget bills or lose power, Hungarian PM warns government

Hungary's minority Socialist government needs to pass tax and budget bills, due in the second half of the year, if it is to hold on to power, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said on Wednesday. His Socialists began ruling alone after their smaller coalition partner, the Alliance of Free Democrats, stood down on April 30, complaining about a lack of economic reforms. Hungary cut its budget deficit to 5.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2007 from 9.2 percent in 2006, but it remains the highest in the European Union.

Polish police arrest man who hostage taking at hotel

Polish police arrested a 23-year-old man identified as Mohammed A. after he took three young Israelis hostage in a hotel in Warsaw last Monday. The man threatened to blow up an explosive device before policemen overpowered him. No bomb was found during a subsequent police search of the hotel.

Priceless cross looted by Nazis returned to Poland

A priceless medieval religious cross stolen by the Nazis in Poland during World War Two was returned last week to the heirs of the rightful owners after it was found in a rubbish skip. The 47-cm high enamelled cross, originally from Limoges in France, was discovered in a container full of junk from a house clearance in the Austrian ski resort of Zell am See. Acquired in 1865, the cross featured among the thousands of works of art in the collection built up by Countess Isabella Dzialynska who displayed it in her castle at Goluchow for many decades.