Insight Central Europe News

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Poland ready to lift EU-Russia talks veto - but conditions remain

Poland says it is ready to lift a veto on talks between the EU and Russia if Moscow ends its ban on Polish meat and plant imports. Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski told journalists that if the ban was lifted, and energy issues were included in talks, then, quote, "we will lift the veto." A spokesman for the European Commission said Poland has given a "green light" for starting negotiations but added that progress would also depend on Russia. Poland blocked the EU's talks on a strategic partnership with Russia last November over the Russian embargo on imports of Polish meat.

Czechs ask for "stronger security

The Czech Republic has asked the United States to provide stronger security guarantees and military cooperation in exchange for hosting part of its missile defence shield. The request was included in a diplomatic note sent to the U.S. government last week and which agreed to start talks on the missile shield. The United States wants to deploy a radar system in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland. Russia has raised objections to the shield saying it could undermine global non-proliferation.

Slovenia: Constitutional court rules against cancelling Corruption Commission

Slovenia's constitutional court has ruled against abolishing the Commission on Corruption Prevention. A judge on the court ruled that a law passed last year, replacing the commission with a parliamentary committee, was unconstitutional. Parliament has been given six months in which to amend the law.

Hungary's Free Democrats - health reform a condition for remaining in coalition

The junior partner in Hungary's coalition government, the Free Democrats, are demanding that health reforms, including the introduction of private health insurance, must continue if they are to remain in coalition with the Socialist party. Free Democrat leader Janos Koka told a press conference the introduction of the multiple insurer system "is an indispensable element of the health reform." He said "health reform is a condition for the continued existence of the coalition." Earlier the Free Democrat health minister resigned in the middle of major reforms of the health care sector.

Slovak diplomat likely to become Bosnia's High Representative

The Slovak diplomat Miroslav Lajcak is reported to be the only candidate to replace Christian Schwarz-Schilling as the International High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The German diplomat is expected to leave the post in June. According to newspaper reports in Bosnia the appointment of Lajcak will depend on the Slovak government's support for the UN's proposal of "supervised independence" for Kosovo. Lajcak's experience in the region includes acting as the EU's observer to the independence referendum in Montenegro.

Visegrad 4: Slovaks most optimistic

A new opinion poll says Slovaks are the most optimistic in the Visegrad 4 countries, while Hungarians are the most pessimistic. The poll, carried out by Focus Agency, asked people in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia about their expectations for the next few years. The agency says the result reflects the success of reforms in Slovakia and disappointment in Hungary after the government admitted lying about the state of the economy.