Insight Central Europe News

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Polish opposition leads in polls ahead of early election

Poland's main opposition party has a strong lead in opinion polls as the country heads towards an early election. The latest poll from TNS put the support for the Civic Platform at 32% compared to 24 percent for the Law and Justice Party of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.The polling agency said Civic Platform would be on the verge of an absolute majority in parliament if the poll predictions proved accurate. Mr Kaczynski, who now leads a minority government, said this week that elections could be held on October 21st or November 18th.

US official: Hungarians may get "visa-free" status in a year

A United States official says the US may be able to grant Hungarians visa-free travel in a year's time. Nathan Sales, a Deputy Assistant Secretary, told the Nepszabadsag daily that the US Department of Homeland Security had changed its requirement for states applying for visa-free status. He said the earliest Hungary could expect to achieve this was within one year. Hungary along with Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia has been urging the US to relax its visa entry requirements.

Prague: Complaints of anti-Semitism at Sparta soccer matches

The head of the Prague Jewish Community, Frantisek Banyai, has sent a letter of complaint to the management of Sparta Prague football club over anti-Semitic slogans heard during a game last week. Members of the audience yelled the slogan "Jude Slavia" referring to Sparta city rival Slavia which was playing on the same day. The letter alleges the term is used in a derogatory way and that some of Sparta's fans openly embrace Nazi-type anti-Semitism. Mr Banyai said he hoped the club will do everything to prevent this from happening in the future.

Slovakia jobless hits an all-time low

Unemployment in Slovakia is at its lowest level since the country achieved independence in 1993. Figures from the National Employment Office released last week show the unemployment rate for July at 8.3%, almost two percent down on the same period last year. In 2000 Slovakia's unemployment rate was over 20%. Along with the Baltic states Slovakia has one of the highest rates of economic growth in the European Union.

Slovenia prepares to tackle sensitive issues with Croatia

Slovenia is preparing the way for a new round of talks with Croatia on issues which have strained relations between the two countries. Prime Minister Janez Jansa got together with coalition leaders on Friday as he began consultations on outstanding issues with Croatia. Jansa is also expected to hold a joint meeting with the leaders of all groups in parliament. The consultations come before the government is set to debate Croatia's response to Slovenia's latest initiative for the resolution of open issues, which includes the proposal for third-party assistance over the disputed border and a dispute over the Krsko nuclear power station.

Brussels blocks Austria's plan to double the road toll

The EU Commission has said Austria may not double road tolls for heavy trucks. Transport minister Werner Faymann had said he wanted the increases to encourage a shift in transport to rail traffic and to protect the environment. A doubling of road tolls for heavy trucks would bring Austria into line with charges applied in Switzerland. However the EU says the increases of 4.2 cents a kilometre which came into effect in Austria on July 1st, and which reflect inflation since 2004, are the most that can be expected at the moment.