Insight Central Europe News

Poland: Former interior minister detained - political crisis deepens

Polish prosecutors last week detained the former interior minister, Janusc Kaczmarek, on charges he obstructed legal proceedings in a corruption case. Mr Kaczmarek has denied the charges. The former minister was fired earlier this month by Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski. The opposition and human rights groups have denounced the charges against Kaczmarek as politically motivated. They said the move was an attempt by the government to muzzle critical voices and cover up abuses of power. MP's are expected to vote next week to shorten the parliament's term and call an election later this year, two years ahead of schedule.

Slovene PM accepts resignation of 3 cabinet ministers

Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa last week accepted the resignations of three of his ministers after fierce criticism of them by opposition parties. Jansa said the resignations of his ministers of health, transport and science would prevent what he called "unproductive tensions with the opposition". He said replacements will be announced soon. The opposition claimed that service in the public health sector had deteriorated under and that the Science Minister had failed to modernize universities.

Slovak President asks Hungary to control nationalists

Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic has called on Hungary to reign in nationalist groups, saying such movements were a threat to democracy in Europe. Gasparovic was reacting to the creation of a uniformed guard by a small group of far-right Hungarians. The guard has also angered Jewish and Roma groups for what they said was its use of Nazi-era symbols. Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and the governing Socialist and Free Democrat parties have also condemned creation of the guard. Around 3,000 people last weekend attended an induction ceremony for 56 members of the extreme nationalist group which calls itself Magyar Garda, or Hungarian Guard.

Czech President calls for "national consensus" on US missile shield

The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, says it is necessary to achieve a certain national consensus on the building of an American radar base in central Bohemia. Speaking after talks with US congressman Trent Franks in Prague, Mr Klaus said if the base was approved by the slimmest of majorities in the lower house it would create room for potential problems in the future. The Czech Parliament is set to decide on the planned US base in the early part of next year.

Austria not a "US State" says Foreign Minister

Austria foreign minister Ursula Plassnik has said that Austria is neither the "51st U.S. state" nor "a branch of Russia". She was attempting to clarify the country's position on the proposed U.S. missile defense shield in Central Europe. Her statement was related to remarks last week by defense minister Norbert Darabos about the planned shield. Mr. Darabos said in a newspaper interview he did not believe there was a credible threat that would justify building the anti-missile system. He urged U.S. officials to seek a compromise with Russia, which fiercely opposes the plan. This week he said he was surprised at the U.S. reaction.