Insight Central Europe News

Remains of Hungary's last communist ruler stolen

The remains of Hungary's last communist ruler, Janos Kadar, as well as an urn containing his wife's ashes have been stolen. The marble stone cover of Mr Kadar's grave was removed, his coffin broken; grafitti on the pantheon read "a murderer and traitor may not rest in holy ground". Janos Kadar is considered a controversial figure in modern Hungarian politics. He led the country from 1956, when Soviet troops crushed the country's anti-communist uprising, until 1988. He died a year later. His supporters argue that Kadar provided relatively high living standards for Hungarians compared to some other Soviet satellite states.

Poland and Slovenia reportedly offered waiving 80 percent of Iraq's debt

Iraqi Finance Minister Bayan Jabor has said that Poland, Slovenia and Bulgaria have offered an 80 percent waiver of the debt owed to them by the government of war-torn Iraq. Mr Jabor says he accepted the offer as well as an Egyptian offer to forgive $800 million in debt on Thursday. However, he did not give figures for the three European countries. Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced that donor countries including Britain, Saudi Arabia and China had pledged to waive $30 billion in debt.

Slovak opposition: Prime Minister responsible for healthcare crisis

Slovakia's opposition leaders Mikulas Dzurinda, Pal Csaky and Pavol Hrusovsky have held a meeting at which they concluded that Prime Minister Robert Fico, rather than Health Minister Ivan Valentovic, is to blame for what they view as a healthcare crisis. Among Mr Fico's measures that came under fire was a recent proposal to merge all health insurance companies into one state-owned insurer. The opposition will not propose to hold a no-confidence vote against Minister Valentovic. Instead, they will issue a declaration calling on the cabinet to file a report to Parliament analysing the critical situation in the healthcare sector.

European court rules against Poland on gay march ban

Europe's top human rights court has ruled that Poland was guilty of discrimination for banning a gay rights march in Warsaw in 2005 when current President Lech Kaczynski was mayor of the city. The European Court of Human Rights said Mr Kaczynski's comments that "propaganda about homosexuality" was not the same as "exercising one's freedom of assembly" in a newspaper interview had influenced the decision to refuse permission for the march. The chief of Poland's National Security Bureau, Wladyslaw Stasiak, rejected the ruling, saying genuine security concerns had existed and suggestions that Poland was undemocratic were wrong.

Poland has come under increasing fire recently from EU lawmakers, who singled it out in a resolution condemning homophobia in the 27-nation bloc.

EU praises Slovenia for transition to euro

The European Union has praised Slovenia's transition to the euro on Jan. 1, noting that the changeover from the tolar led to only minimal price rises. A European Commission report labelled it a clear success and in certain aspects even surpassing the performance of the member states that adopted the euro in 2002. EU statistics show the adoption of the euro boosted the rate of inflation by an estimated 0.3 percentage points, comparable to the changeover in the 12 other euro-using nations. The Commission said abuses such as price hikes were limited, although some unusual price rises were noticed in restaurants and cafes.