Insight Central Europe News

Danilo Turk has won Slovenia's presidential election

Danilo Turk has won Slovenia's presidential election, taking almost 70 percent of votes in the second round of the poll. He'll succeed outgoing President Janez Drnovsek. Observers says the result sends a strong signal of dissatisfaction to the conservative government. Mr Turk is a career diplomat who ran as an independent but was backed by left-wing opposition parties. His rival, Lojze Peterle, is a former prime minister who was supported by the centre-right governing coalition. The new president will be sworn in shortly before Slovenia takes over the rotating presidency of the EU on January 1st.

Donald Tusk nominated to lead Polish government

Polish president Lech Kaczynski has nominated Donald Tusk as head of the new government. Tusk's centre-right Civic Platform won a parliamentary election on October 1st defeating the conservative Law and Justice party headed by Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski. The handover of power to Civic Platform and its likely junior coalition partner, the centrist Polish Peasants' Party, began on Monday when Mr Kaczynski presented his resignation.

The borders fall - EU votes for Schengen enlargement

European Union interior ministers have voted to extend the border-free Schengen zone to nine additional member states on December 21st. Among those states are The Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland. Schengen allows passport free travel with its area with stronger security on its outer borders. Checks will continue at airports for intra-Schengen flights until the end of March. Austria is insisting on keeping random checks along its borders with the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia.

Czech minister praises Hungary's health reform

Czech Health Minister Tomas Julinek has praised Hungary for its rapid health reform. Speaking at a joint press conference with Hungarian Health Minister Agnes Horvath on Thursday he said he "admired the spectacular speed at which Hungarian reforms were tackled" and that the Czech Republic was bracing for similar reforms. All Visegrad countries (Hungary, Slovakia, the Republic and Poland) are either planning or currently undergoing reform of their health care systems.

SkyEurope switches more flights to Vienna

The Bratislava based low-cost airline SkyEurope is to move a significant number of flights from Bratislava to Vienna. Flights to Basel, Amsterdam and some holiday resorts will operate out of the Austrian capital from this month. SkyEurope's commercial director Karim Makhlouf said it was a nonsense to view the situation as competition between Bratislava and Vienna airports. He said many flights from Bratislava wouldn't survive, and stressed that Vienna airport is also available to Slovak passengers. SkyEurope reported last week that its passenger numbers for October were over 30% higher than for the same month last year.

Ministers sign up to 3 nation police station

The Interior ministers of Hungary, Austria and Slovenia signed an agreement in Brussels on Thursday to set up a common police station in the Slovenian town of Dolga Vas. Slovenia's Minister Dragutin Mate said it will be "an operative joint project in the strictest sense". The co-operation will involve joint action against cross-border crime, human smuggling and anti-terrorism following the enlargement of the EU's Schengen border free zone.