Insight Central Europe News

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Polish ambassador to Iraq injured in Baghdad bomb attack

Poland's ambassador to Iraq was injured in a bomb attack on his convoy in Baghdad on Wednesday. General Edward Pietrzyk was wounded and one of his bodyguards was killed in what Polish officials said they believed was a deliberate assassination bid. In response to the attack Poland's prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said his country would not withdraw its 1,000-strong troop contingent from Iraq. Mr Kaczynski, who is a strong supporter of the United States, said desertion was always the worst option.

Kaczynski postpones Katyn ceremony after protests

Meanwhile back at home, Mr Kaczynski's twin brother - President Lech Kaczynski - announced he was postponing a ceremony commemorating thousands of Polish officers killed by the Soviets at Katyn during World War Two, after being accused of trying to politicise it. His brother Jaroslaw is campaigning for re-election as prime minister in two weeks, and President Kaczynski had brought forward the ceremony from next spring to this Friday. But at the last minute the president decided to postpone it until Poland's Independence Day on November 11th. A spokeswoman for the president said his motives had been falsely interpreted.

Vienna police investigate U.S. embassy explosive incident

Police in the Austrian capital Vienna are continuing to investigate an incident in which a Bosnian man tried to enter the city's US Embassy carrying a rucksack filled with explosives. The bag contained two devices similar to hand grenades and other explosive materials; when it triggered metal detectors the man fled, though he was arrested soon afterwards. A second man has also been arrested in connection with the case.

Slovak fury at controversial Hungarian president visit

Slovakia summoned Hungary's ambassador last week after the country's president criticised the Slovak parliament for endorsing the expulsion of tens of thousands of Hungarians following World War II. Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom made the comments on a private visit to Slovakia's ethnic Hungarian-dominated south. Officials in Bratislava described statements as unacceptable meddling. The row was the latest strain on already difficult relations between the two neighbours, who have long disagreed over both Budapest's role among Slovakia's Hungarian minority and anti-Hungarian sentiment on the part of Slovak nationalists.

Czech Education Minister resigns in EU funds fiasco

Dana Kuchtova resigned as the Czech Republic's Education Minister last week, after coming under pressure for the mishandling of applications for European Union. Her party the Greens are divided over her forced dismissal, with some regional leaders suggesting the party should reconsider its membership of the Czech coalition government. Meanwhile, the European Commission has warned the Czech Republic stands to lose millions of euros in structural funds due to delays and poor organisation. In the course of this year the Czech Republic has failed to get a single grant application approved by Brussels.

Schengen zone to grow by nine countries on December 21

Nine additional member states are set to join the European Union's border-free zone on December 21 this year, the bloc's Portuguese Presidency said last week. Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland and the Czech Republic are among the countries whose citizens will not have to show their passports when entering the 15 states of the "Schengen" border-free zone. EU ministers are set to officially endorse the move next month.