Insight Central Europe News
Warsaw Archbishop resigns over communist collaboration
Warsaw's new Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus resigned on Sunday less than an hour before he was to take part in a Mass to mark his inauguration. The resignation came after he admitted collaborating with the communist era secret police. The Vatican's envoy to Poland said Pope Benedict had accepted the resignation and that outgoing Archbishop, Cardinal Jozef Glemp would administer the archdiocese until a replacement is found. Stanislaw Wielgus said he did not inform on anyone or try to hurt anyone. He expressed remorse over his contacts with the secret police and for failing to be forthcoming from the beginning.
EU says energy supplies secure after Belarus-Russia deal
The European Commission says it does not believe a gas pricing deal between Belarus and Russia will affect supplies to Europe this winter. At a press briefing on Thursday the commission also said the decision by Belarus to impose a duty on Russian oil exports transiting the country should not affect supply. But the commission warned that the crisis between Belarus and Russia this winter underlines the need for strong cooperation on energy security and supply. A significant amount of Central Europe's oil is piped from Russia through Belarus to Poland and Germany and through a southern line to Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
Slovenia says Euro change-over a success
Slovenes have been getting used to using euros as their currency this week after the country joined the European common currency on January 1st. The government in Ljubljana said it was the biggest national achievement since Slovenia joined the EU. A recent survey showed two-thirds of Slovenes are happy to exchange their old currency, the tolar, for the euro. The European Central Bank said the changeover is proceeding well and according to plan.
Czech roads becoming safer
The death toll on Czech roads last year dropped below 1,000 for the first time since 1993. Figures show 951 people died in traffic accidents last year compared to 1,127 the previous year. Authorities say a new penalty point system has improved the behaviour of Czech drivers. The transport ministry says the aim is to reduce the annual death toll to 650 within four years.
Slovak troops out of Iraq by end January
Slovakia is to withdraw its troops from Iraq this month. According to the foreign ministry in Bratislava around half of them should return next week with the remainder coming home before the end of January. 11 Slovak officers will remain in the country to assist in training Iraqi soldiers. De-mining devices will also continue to be made available to Iraqi forces. Slovakia has had just over 100 soldiers in Iraq since 2004. Three have died in the line of duty.
Hungary's much travelled conductor, Janos Furst, dies in Paris
Janos Furst, the Hungarian violinist and conductor who worked with orchestras around the world, has died after a long illness. He was 71. Furst died of cancer in a Paris hospital on Wednesday. He had worked with orchestras in Paris, Madrid, Prague, London and Helsinki and was music director of the Marseilles Opera for nine years.
Slight rise in Hungarian jobless numbers
Hungary's unemployment rate rose to 7.5 percent at the end of 2006, up slightly on the previous quarter, according to the Central Statistic Office. Unemployment was also slightly higher than a year earlier with 321 thousand out of work.