Insight Central Europe News

Council of Europe over-rules Polish objections on day against death penalty

The Council of Europe has over-turned objections from Poland and voted to make October 10th Europe's day against the death penalty. Poland's conservative government had blocked the plan at a meeting of interior and justice ministers on September 18th. The council, Europe's highest human rights body, voted 46 to 1 in favour. The death penalty is abolished in all EU member states and in all 46 members of the Council of Europe. President Lech Kaczynski and Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, have expressed personal support for capital punishment.

Hungarian PM calls for crackdown on corruption - after questioning

Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany is calling for a crackdown on corruption after he was questioned over allegations a Socialist politician had misused government funds. The investigation relates to Janos Zuschlag, a former MP from Gyurcsany's Socialist Party, who has been detained on charges that he abused funds from the Youth and Sports Ministry between 2002 and 2004. Zuschlag denies the charges. The Prime Minister said he did not suspect corruption and, if he had, would have ordered an investigation.

Slovakia rows over school book place-names

In Slovakia a row has broken out over the language used for place names in school books. The education minister, Jan Mikolaj, from the nationalist SNS party, has ruled that in future place names in school books should only be given in Slovak. Hungarian is an official minority language in Slovakia and school books also give Hungarian names. Members of the Hungaian coalition party, SMK, have sent an official letter of protest to Prime Minister Robert Fico, saying such a ruling was not even considered under totalitarian communism.

Slovenes save power - with a free light bulb

In Slovenia every household is to be given a free energy saving light-bulb. The electricity provider Eles is to provide a gift coupon to all of its 780,000 thousand customers with the next power bill. It says the step will enable Slovenia to save as much power as is produced in one year by the country's hydro-electric power station.

Austrian Foreign Minister calls for renewed efforts on nuclear disarmament

Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik has called for renewal of efforts to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction. Speaking on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Mrs Plassnik supported the Vienna based Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation. She said the hoped a recent conference held in Vienna would breathe new life into the treaty which bans the testing of nuclear weapons. She urged the United States to ratify the treaty saying this would send a strong signal to the international community.