Insight Central Europe News

Polish PM and Czech President to boycott Olympic opening

Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk has become the first European Union government leader to boycott the Beijing Olympic Games opening ceremony over China's crackdown on Tibetan protesters. Speaking on Thursday Mr Tusk said he "wanted to arouse further interest in the issue". Czech President Vaclav Klaus has also announced his intention to stay away from the opening ceremony in Beijing.

US and Russia remain apart on Central Europe missile shield

The United States says there are still unresolved issues with Russia over the location of a missile in Poland and radar bases in the Czech Republic. Speaking after talks in Washington a US official said much headway was made but significant issues still need to be resolved. Washington wants a "strategic framework" agreement in time for a summit next month between U.S. President George W. Bush and outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Thousands of unionists head to Slovenia to protest

Tens of thousands of union activists from throughout Europe are expected to demonstrate for higher pay in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana on April 5th. The demonstration is timed to coincide with Slovenia hosting a meeting of EU finance ministers as part of its EU presidency. Organisers say they expect up to 30 thousand people to take part. Workers from Croatia, Macedonia, Switzerland and Ukraine have also been invited to take part.

Czech health unions oppose privatisation

Czech trade unions in the health industry are urging the government not to privatise healthcare. In a statement they reject proposals by the Health Ministry to list teaching hospitals and health insurance companies on the stock exchange. Union representatives have described such moves as the first step towards the complete privatisation of Czech healthcare. Heath Minister Tomáš Julínek says the proposals will not end state ownership of hospitals.

Hungary’s PM calls for “peace and quiet” in the coalition

Hungary's Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany has called for "peace and quiet" in the governing coalition. The leader of the Social Democrats linked implementation of the government's reform program to an end to discussion about whether the coalition was stable enough to continue. Speaking ahead of a party meeting on Saturday Mr Gyurcsany said the coalition has to discuss how it can create circumstances "conducive" to implementing the reform program.

Slovak newspapers unite to criticise media law

Major Slovak newspapers have printed identical front pages to protest against a proposed new media law. The new legislation, which is being debated in Parliament, has been criticized by the OSCE, Europe's largest security organization. The newspapers all printed front pages which read “Seven Sins of the Press Law” followed by a description of what the papers consider are flaws in the legislation.

Austrian doctors link thyroid cancer increase to Chernobyl

Doctors at a hospital in Austria say the incidence of thyroid cancer and immune system problems has doubled and place part of the blame on the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe in 1986. Dr Gerhard Wolf, thyroid expert from Graz general hospital, says people who were between the ages of five and ten years and who were outdoors at the time of the accident would have come into contact with radioactive iodine. He said this is showing up as increased thyroid cancer in today's thirty year olds.