Insight Central Europe News

Kosovo status solution likely during Slovenia's EU presidency

A solution on the final status of Kosovo is likely to be taken in the spring, during Slovenia's presidency of the European Union. The EU's enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn made the statement after Serbia announced presidential elections for January 20th. Diplomats say foreign ministers have come to an informal agreement to avoid early action on recognising an independent Kosovo in order to avoid a nationalist backlash in Serbia. The EU is due to hold a summit in Slovenia at the end of March which will deal with integrating the Western Balkans into the EU.

Poland gives EU's Reform Treaty strong endorsement

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski have strongly endorsed the European Union's reform treaty at a signing ceremony in Lisbon. Mr Tusk said it was a "great day" for Poland. He added that the date was particularly symbolic for his generation as it was the 26th anniversary of the imposition of martial law in Poland. President Lech Kaczyński led the Polish delegation at the signing ceremony. The Treaty of Lisbon comes into force in 2009, provided it is ratified by all member states.

Gyurcsany - Hungary may be first to ratify EU treaty

Hungary may become the first EU member to ratify the new Reform Treaty. Speaking after the signing ceremony in Lisbon Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany told journalists there was a willingness to ratify the treaty in parliament on Monday. He expressed satisfaction with the treaty saying it included Hungary's priorities in terms of civil liberties and ethnic minority rights.

Czechs agree on church restitution

A Czech government commission and representatives of the country’s 17 registered churches have reached agreement on settling church restitution claims. According to Culture Minister Vaclav Jehlicka the state has offered to restitute a third of the property churches are claiming and is ready to pay financial compensation for property which cannot be restituted. The agreement follows a drawn-out dispute over church property confiscated by the Communists after 1948.

Slovakia to prosecute for political crimes under communism

An institute which administers the files of the former secret police in Slovakia has for the first time taken steps to bring to justice people who committed political crimes under communism. The head of the UPN institute, Ivan Petransky, says the crimes to be pursued are those that went unpunished during the communist regime because they were committed in order to strengthen the regime. One such case involved the alleged murder of a Catholic priest, Father Stefan Polak, in 1987. Petransky said new evidence had come to light through investigation of the personnel files of the former secret police.

Loss of Czech contract could threaten Steyr Vienna works

The cancellation by the Czech government of a major contract with the Austrian firm Steyr could spell the end for the company's plant in Vienna, according to the newspaper Kurier. The paper is reporting that the production of tanks may be moved to Switzerland. Steyr had had a contract worth 800 million euro with the Czech government for up to 234 Pandur tanks. Prague cancelled it saying the first deliveries were late and not technically up to standard. Representatives from the US firm General Dynamics, of which the Steyr unit is a 100% subsidiary, have been meeting with company officials.