Insight Central Europe News

Putin derides plans for US anti-missile bases in Central Europe

Russia's president Vladimir Putin has renewed his criticism of US plans to deploy a missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic. In an annual news conference this week he rejected claims by the US that the system was designed to intercept possible missile attacks from Iran. He suggested Russia would take retaliatory measures but did not specify what they might be. The US is hoping to establish a radar base in the Czech Republic and missile launching bases in Poland.

Poland's "Solidarity" to be enshrined in Gdansk

A European Solidarity Centre is to be established in the Polish city of Gdansk. A letter of intent has been signed to create an institution which will focus on Poland's modern history including the creation of the Solidarity union movement and its role in the fall of communism. A part of the exhibit will be housed in a hall in the Gdansk shipyard where the historic August Accords were signed in 1980.

Hungary's Roma appeal for laws against hate speech

In Hungary the National Roma Authority is urging parliament to renew attempts to pass legislation against hate speech. The authority's chairman Orban Kolompar says there's been an increase in the number of verbal attacks on the Roma minority and called for legislation treating hate speech as a crime. Last year Hungary's constitutional court struck down as unconstitutional a law against hate speech which had been passed by the parliament.

Slovenia PM announces new Agriculture Minister

Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa has proposed the current Slovene ambassador to Israel, Iztok Jarc, as his new minister for agriculture. Parliament is expected to approve the appointment at the beginning of March. Jarc replaces Marija Lukacic who resigned in January amid criticism of her handling of the portfolio. Iztok Jarch was a former state secretary in the Agriculture ministry before being named Ambassador to Israel.

Slovak military laments lack of recruits

The Slovak Defence Ministry says young Slovaks seem uninterested in applying for careers in the army. Spokesman Milan Vanga said last week the army was only able to fill 87 percent of its staff requirements. He said the army is lacking doctors, lawyers and psychologists and must compete with the car industry to attract young, educated people. There's also a shortage of engineers, chemists and electricians.

Prague brings homeless on-board

The city of Prague has opened an unusual shelter for the homeless: a cargo boat converted into a hostel providing 250 beds. The boat, anchored on the Vltava River in the centre of Prague, opened for Prague's estimated 5,000-6,000 homeless on Thursday. The city authorities say it is the first homeless boat hostel of its kind in Europe. For 20 crowns (around a dollar) the homeless will be given a bunk bed, a cup of tea and access to sanitary facilities.