Insight Central Europe News

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Poland's foreign minister pushes security support during Washington visit

Poland's foreign minister Radek Sikorski has pressed the US for security assistance in exchange for hosting a US missile defence system. At meetings in Washington Sikorski met US Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Since becoming foreign minister Sikorski has argued for more from Washington in exchange for support in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the planned missile defense system.

Czech and US officials work on details of radar base agreement

Czech and US negotiators have held another round of talks on American plans to build a radar base in central Bohemia as part of a part of a missile defence shield. Among the issues discussed were legal jurisdiction over US soldiers based in the Czech Republic, and whether US vehicles would have Czech or American number plates. The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, is due to discuss the planned base with President George Bush on a visit to Washington in four weeks' time.

Hungary: Fidesz backs referendum to block health financing reform

Hungary's main opposition Fidesz party says it will fully support a privately initiated referendum designed to block government legislation to reform the country's financing of health care. A senior Fidesz official said the Socialist-liberal government's bill to introduce an element of private insurance into the system was an important change requiring Hungarians to have a direct say in the matter. The government has already passed the bill which is now undergoing amendments before being sent to the President for approval.

Croatia accuses Slovenia of stalling its EU membership bid

Croatia is accusing neighbouring Slovenia, which holds the European Union presidency, of stalling its EU membership bid. The accusation came after Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel told the European Parliament on Zagreb had "virtually broke off". The two countries are involved in a long running dispute over land and sea borders. Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader has called for an urgent meeting of both foreign ministers.

European Commission warns Slovakia on spending and inflation

The European Commission has warned Slovakia it may have to rein in public spending and curb inflation if it wants to adopt the euro currency next year. The commission says rising prices in Slovakia could pose a problem and may require what he called "special attention". Slovakia has seen strong economic growth, along with rising food and energy prices, since joining the EU in 2004

Austria records a rise in HIV infections

Austria has seen a 16% rise in new HIV infections. Health authorities in Vienna say at least five more people are infected each week with the HIV virus. There are believed to be between 12,000 and 15,000 people in Austria who are HIV positive. Experts from the institute for virology have called for a new campaign to alert people to the dangers of AIDS and HIV.