Insight Central Europe News

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Slovak coalition pulls back from crisis

The ruling coalition parties in Slovakia have agreed to keep their coalition despite deep divisions. The centrist Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and the leftist Smer have clashed over land deals at an agency supervised by HZDS. Prime Minister Robert Fico sacked the HZDS agriculture minister amid allegations of corruption. After a party meeting last week HZDS chief Vladimir Meciar said the leaders had resolved some of their differences and that he would support the 2008 budget.

Putin signs law suspending participation in CFE treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law suspending Russia's participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, one of the cornerstones of European security. The move follows a dispute between Russia and western members of NATO over ratification of the treaty. Russia ratified the updated treaty in 2004, but the United States and others have yet to do so saying Moscow should withdraw its forces from Georgia and from Moldova's separatist region of Trans-Dniester.

Suspect nuclear smugglers arrested on Slovak-Hungary border

Police in Slovakia have arrested three men on the border with Hungary, suspected of involvement in a million dollar plot to sell uranium. They uncovered a little less than half a kilo of enriched uranium which, according to police, could have been used for a so-called "dirty bomb". A spokeswoman for the Slovak police said the men planned to sell the uranium.

Large majority of Poles support Iraq withdrawal – opinion poll

A new opinion poll says 73% of Poles are in favour of withdrawing soldiers from Iraq as quickly as possible. The CBOS polling centre says only 8% of those asked would support an extension of Poland's military presence beyond 2008. The same survey also found little support for the deployment of US anti-missile bases in Poland. Less than a quarter of respondents said it was a good idea and more than 60% said such installations would increase the threat of a terrorist attack.

Hungary and Austria agree on day-worker numbers

The Labour Ministers of Hungary and Austria have signed an agreement limiting the number of Hungarian day-workers employed in Austria. Monika Lamperth of Hungary and Martin Bartenstein of Austria said a total of 2,550 Hungarian nationals living in Western Hungary will be granted permits to commute to jobs in Austria next year. The figure is 200 more than for 2007. Austria placed restrictions on the free movement of labour from former communist states when the EU enlarged in 2004.

Slovenia’s sets budget target with lower deficit

Slovenia's parliament has approved a budget for 2008 and 2009 which calls for a lower deficit despite higher government spending. After a three day debate the parliament approved a deficit of 0.6 percent of GDP for next year - almost half of that originally planned. The budget calls for a further deficit reduction in 2009 and for it to be eliminated by 2011. Increased income plus European Union transfers are expected to more than balance out higher spending.

Czech doctors protest against longer working week

Around 300 people gathered outside the health ministry in Prague last week to protest against the minister’s proposal to extend doctor’s working hours from 40 to 48 hours per week. Health minister Tomas Julinek says the measure will decrease the number of overtime hours in hospitals. But the trade unions accuse the minister of trying to introduce a “work Saturday” and shadow health minister David Rath said the measures could make qualified doctors leave the Czech Republic for jobs abroad.