Insight Central Europe News

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Polish President re-states support for NATO

Polish President Lech Kaczynski has rejected comments by some officials which called into question Warsaw's commitment to NATO. A deputy Polish foreign minister and a senior parliamentarian were quoted as saying Poland needed a bilateral security pact with the United States because it feared NATO lacked the will to counter any serious threats. However President Kaczynski told a news conference in Brussels that Poland is "a loyal NATO member" and treated "NATO membership as a success." Some Polish officials are concerned NATO would be unable to react to threats from Russia. Relations between Warsaw and Moscow have deteriorated over several political and trade disputes.

Czechs and Slovaks urge EU to reconsider stance on nuclear energy

The Czech Republic and Slovakia are urging the EU to reconsider the merits of nuclear energy. Speaking ahead of the EU summit in Brussels the Czech ambassador to the EU Jan Kohout said "the atmosphere around nuclear energy is changing" and a Slovak diplomat said it was "time to discuss nuclear energy more openly. Both countries believe nuclear energy will help the EU meet its targets in cutting greenhouse gasses. Both countries have nuclear power stations and oppose setting a binding target for the EU to produce 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources.

Hungary: report claims 25% of GDP from shadow economy

A new report in Hungary says clandestine or illegal labour generates 25 percent of the country's gross domestic product. The research institute Ecostat reports that in a survey of business leaders 46 percent said their competitors were involved in illegal employment practices while 44 percent said there was no illegal activity in their industry. Many of those surveyed said lower taxes would help fight illegal employment practices.

Slovakia: Move to raise pensions for former political prisoners

The Slovak parliament is considering a bill which would improve pensions paid to former political prisoners. Slovak National Party MP's propose amending laws to increase state pensions to former prisoners or their widows. Those who prove they were imprisoned for more than three months for political reasons will be given an extra 1.7 euro per month for every month they have spent in jail. There are around two thousand former political prisoners living in Slovakia.

Slovenia's top journalism prize to Horst Ogris

Slovenia's Jurcic prize for truth in journalism has gone to the Austrian journalist Horst Ogris. Ogris, from Carinthia in southern Austria, received the award for his cultural work with the largest newspaper in the region, the Kleine Zeitung. At a ceremony in Ljubljana this week Ogris was praised for interviews which informed the Slovenian minority in Austria of the most important cultural developments.