Insight Central Europe News

Poland's prime minister says "neo-fascist" youth video "scandalous"

The Polish Prime Minister has condemned as scandalous a video allegedly showing a neo-fascist party organized by the All-Poland Youth. The party was held two years ago but the video of it was made public several days ago. The opposition has called for the dismissal of deputy Prime Minister Roman Giertych, leader of the rightist League of Polish Families and the main mentor of the All-Poland Youth.

Slovenia postpones lift in defence spending

NATO-member Slovenia is to postpone an increase in defence spending despite a request from the North Atlantic alliance to do so. Defence Minister Karl Erjavec said the 2008 state budget did not allow an increase but he hoped it would be possible in 2009. NATO has asked Slovenia to lift defence spending to 2 percent of GDP. Spending next year will amount to 1.65 percent. Slovenia joined NATO in 2004 and plans to raise the number of professional soldiers by more than 1,000.

Hungary welcomes Bush promise on Visas

Hungary's Foreign Minister, Kinga Goncz, has welcomed a pledge by U.S. President, George W. Bush, to abolish American visa requirements for new EU member states. The promise, made at the NATO summit in Riga last week, will mean visa free travel to the US for the ten countries which joined the EU in 2004. Ms Goncc said the US president's announcement came as a surprise. She praised the lobbying of the Visegrad Four countries Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Slovak police bust marijuana plantation

Slovak police have uncovered a major marijuana plantation east of Bratislava. Eight men, from Austria and Hungary were detained for questioning. The plantation was concealed in an abandoned meat processing plant near the city of Nitra and according to police was capable of producing around 180 thousand euros worth of marijuanan every three weeks. It was also alleged the men were involved in cocaine dealing. If convicted, the eight are facing up to 20 years' imprisonment.

Hungary courts Hungarians "beyond the borders"

Hungary's President Laszlo Solyom last week held talks with representatives of small Hungarian communities in neighbouring countries. A statement from the President's office said the talks focused on issues around preserving Hungarian culture and identity in small ethnic communities scattered around the Carpathian Basin. Parties at the meeting called for more attention to these communities, both in Hungary and in surrounding countries. The meetings were part of a series called "Hungarians Beyond the Borders in the 21st Century."

Central and SE European states meet in Albania

Prime ministers and senior officials from 18 central and southeast European countries met in the Albanian capital Tirana on Friday to discuss closer regional cooperation and to help some member countries in their bids to join NATO and the EU. The meeting, known as the Central European Initiative, was created to strengthen ties between the region and the EU. Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic are all members of the Initiative.

Czech's settle long running banking dispute

The Czech finance minister, Vlastimil Tlusty, says the government has settled a long-running dispute with a Japanese investment bank over its investment in the Czech Republic. Mr Tlusty said the deal means the end of all disputes with the bank Nomura Co withoug money changing hands. The government and Nomura had been suing each other in two arbitration cases involving the sale of Investicni a Postovni Banka, or IPB.