Insight Central Europe News

Russia may pull out of arms treaty over US missiles in Europe

Russia is threatening to pull out of a major nuclear arms control treaty unless the US drops plans to install a missile defence shield with radar bases in the Czech Republic and missiles based in Poland. The Russian army chief of staff, Yury Baluyevsky, says Moscow might unilaterally withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty because "many countries are developing and perfecting medium-range rockets." He also linked Russia's position to US plans to extend its missile defences into central Europe.

Poland's PM and Condoleeza Rice discuss missile locations

Poland's Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice have discussed the location of elements of the US anti-missile shield in Poland. Washington described the talks as constructive and the main top was the start of negotiations on deployment. State Department spokesman Chase Beamer said the US government welcomed a statement by Mr Kaczynski supporting the placing of the anti-missile shield in Poland.

Czechs to put secret police files on the internet

The Czech Interior Ministry is making files of the communist-era secret police the StB more accessible to the public under a new project called Open Past. It aims to gradually put some 17 kilometres of files on the internet, although so far less than 4 percent have been processed. A number of public figures in the Czech Republic have recently been accused of collaboration with the StB.

Slovenia: bitter debate over defence contract

There was a bitter debate during special sitting of Slovenia's parliament this week as opposition parties raised questions about possible irregularities in a major defence contract. The opposition accused defence minister Karl Erjavec of misleading the public on the cost of new armoured vehicles and of releasing information in dribs and drabs. Erjavec rejected the allegations and the governing majority passed a motion saying the purchase of 145 armoured vehicles worth 278 million euros was handled correctly. It's one of Slovenia's biggest ever defence purchases.

Slovakia: Clothing Maker Ozeta Neo will Lay Off 870 Employees

The biggest men's clothing maker in Slovakia Ozeta Neo in Trencin will lay off 870 employees as of the end of March. The company will shut down plants in Trencin and Skalica but retain others in Topolcany and Tornala. The strengthening of the Slovak crown against the euro has been cited as one of the main reasons to shut down the plants. 90 percent of the Ozeta Neo output is exported. The company is opening factories in Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia because of lower labour costs After the layoffs, Ozeta Neo will have around 1,500 people on its payroll.

Hungary: Talks continue on Audi investment

Hungary's economics minister Janos Koka says the government is still in talks with German car maker Audi on a possible half billion euro investment in Hungary. Last October Audi threatened to halt new investments in Hungary because of a 4 percent tax on pre-tax profits. Koka told a press conference in Gyor, where Audi's Hungarian unit is based, that Audi would benefit from a decision allowing companies to write off research and development costs. He said the move would encourage investment.