Insight Central Europe News

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Central Europe missile defence shield delay - funding denied in US congress

A planned US missile defence shield in Central Europe may be delayed after Democrat and Republican Senators in the US agreed to block funding for their construction. A senior Democrat said the US does not have a basic agreement with the "European governments" for the construction of the sites. The military spending bill, to be passed by congress, will have funds for the missiles, parts and radar but not the construction of the sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. The Bush administration wants to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and radar base in the Czech Republic to counter what it says are potential missile threats from Iran and North Korea.

Poland may pull troops out of Iraq next year - PM designate Tusk

Poland's prime minister-designate, Donald Tusk, last week suggested his government will end the country's military mission in Iraq by next year. Poland sent combat troops to Iraq in 2003 and still has around 900 soldiers stationed there. Tusk was quoted by the daily Polska newspaper as saying "we want to finish the mission in this form in 2008". A recent public opinion poll found 81% of Poles oppose the military mission in Iraq.

Czech deputy PM stands down as bribe investigation re-opens

Pressure is mounting on the head of the Christian Democrats, Jiri Cunek, to resign from his function as party leader. On Thursday, Mr Cunek stepped down from the posts of deputy prime minister and minister for regional development. Mr Cunek said he was resigning from the posts because of the reopening of an investigation into whether he had accepted bribes while acting as mayor of Vsetin in 2002. He said he wanted there to be an independent enquiry into the allegations.

Czech's get visa-free travel to Canada - Hungary expects to be next

Hungary is hoping that visa free travel to Canada may soon be possible after Canada dropped visa requirements for the Czech Republic and Latvia. On a visit to Quebec the Hungarian speaker of Parliament Katalin Szili said "Hungary could see a change in its visa situation with Canada as early as next year". Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania, Romania and Bulgaria also need visas for Canada while Canadians can travel visa-free anywhere in the EU.

Slovakia's boom in building logistic centres

The western region of Slovakia is experiencing a boom in the construction of transport and logistic centres. Local media reports that the HB Reavis group is to build ten huge ware-houses on a sixty hectare site in the town of Trnava. Several other projects costing hundreds of millions of euros are planned. When finished they will provide more than three-quarters of a million square kilometres of storage space. Western Slovakia lies on one of the busiest transport corridors in Central Europe.

Wedgwood reported to be planning move to Slovenia

The Irish firm Wedgwood, the world's top selling maker of crystal and fine china, may be moving a significant part of its operations to Slovenia. Waterford Wedgwood is declining to confirm or deny Irish media reports that the company is negotiating with Steklarna Rogaska, a Slovenia glass manufacturer, to shift more production lines to Slovenia. Union officials in Ireland say Waterford wants to cut its Irish workforce in half and is considering the move to Slovenia because of lower labour costs.

Hungary and Austria smooth over border patrol dispute

Hungary's foreign minister Kinga Göncz has indicated that the government in Budapest may be willing to accept an Austrian plan to continue border patrols after Hungary joins the EU's Schengen area in December. The governor of Lower Austria, Erwin Pröll, in talks with Mrs Göncz, said Austria didn't "mistrust" Hungary, but was concerned about security. Austria plans to keep patrolling just inside its border, despite an EU decision that Hungary and other east European neighbouring states have achieved adequate security standards on their eastern borders.