Insight Central Europe News

German defence minister backs US missile defence in Central Europe

Germany's defense minister says the proposed U.S. anti-missile shield on European territory is in Europe's interest and should be extended to cover the whole of Europe. Franz-Josef Jung told the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee the planned system, with missile bases in Poland and radar bases in the Czech Republic, would leave the south of Europe unprotected. He said a system "for the whole of Europe" must be negotiated. The US says the system is aimed at missiles fired from so-called "rogue states." It is scheduled to brief NATO states and Russia on its plans at a meeting in Brussels next week.

Benelux-Visegrad relations on the agenda in Warsaw

Relations between the Beneulux countries and the Visegrad Four were on the agenda during a visit by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt to Warsaw on Friday. The talks also covered EU-Russia relations and the Russian embargo on Polish agricultural products. Mr Verhofstadt met with Polish President Lech Kaczynski and Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Czech Republic home to 200,000 foreign workers

Almost 200 thousand foreigners are now living and working legally in the Czech Republic. According to official figures just released the number has been increasing with an extra 43 thousand employed in the past year, boosted by economic growth and EU membership. The Labour Ministry says most of the foreign workers are from Slovakia and Ukraine.

Hungary: illegal waste dumping a "big problem"

Hungary's environment minister says the dumping of illegal waste has become a big problem. Miklos Persanyi told journalists that an environmental clean-up operation had inspected around a thousand sites and concluded that a small number of people were responsible for illegal waste dumping. The same survey also found only 41 percent of waste disposal facilities fully complied with regulations.

Slovakia: Jahnatek faces no-confidence vote

Slovak Economy Minister Lubomir Jahnatek faced a no-confidence vote in parliament on Friday. The ruling coalition, led by leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico, has a comfortable majority of 85 votes in the 150-seat assembly. All three governing parties declared support for the minister. The no-confidence motion came after opposition MP's objected to remarks by Jahnatek which appeared to suggest state arms makers should be able to include the cost of bribes as legitimate business expenses.

Slovenia's Foreign Minister in Latin America ahead of EU presidency

Slovenia's Foreign Minister, Dimitrij Rupel, has begun a tour of Latin America with a visit to Argentina. The visit is expected to coincide with the signing of a convention giving members of the Slovenian community in Argentina access to social security rights. Mr Rupel will also visit Chile and Peru. The trip is a preparatory mission for Slovenia's stint as EU president in the first half of 2008, when the EU, Latin America and Caribbean summit will be held.