Insight Central Europe News

Mirek Topolanek asked to make second attempt at forming a government

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has re-appointed Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek as prime minister and asked him to make a fresh attempt at forming a new government. Mr Topolanek was first appointed prime minister in August after a general election that left the 200-seat lower house of parliament equally divided between right and left-wing parties. But he failed to win a vote of confidence from parliament in October and was forced to resign after only 38 days in the job. Meanwhile, the Civic Democratic Party has launched informal talks on forming a new government. It has refused to hold talks exclusively with the Social Democrats and expects Mirek Topolanek to report on their results to the President next week.

Poland says its troops may be deployed in southern Afghanistan

Poland is to deploy 1,200 troops in Afghanistan by February and according to Defence Minister Radek Sikorski they will be allowed to operate in the volatile southern provinces. Sikorski said the troops will be based mainly in eastern Afghanistan but could be used to help allied forces anywhere in the country. NATO has 20,000 troops in Afghanistan and has recently fought fierce battles with Taliban insurgents in the southern Kandihar province.

European Commission urges Hungary to tighten budget controls

The European Commission this week told Hungary's government it needs better budget control. EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said since 2001 there had been slippage in public spending showing the lack of efficient control mechanisms. Hungary's deficit is expected to reach over 10 percent of gross domestic product this year. Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's government has said that from next year ministries will gain access to certain funds only if quarterly reviews showed they had kept spending within the required limits.

Inflation falls in Slovakia

Slovakia's hopes of joining the euro zone in 2009 improved this week with the release of figures showing a fall in inflation. Inflation in October dropped to 3.7 percent from 4.6 percent in September, mainly through a fall in energy prices. Economists have expressed concern about inflation, which reached a 20-month high in August. Countries have to meet strict inflation criteria before adopting the common European currency.

Slovenia "prepared" for the Euro

The European Commission on says Slovenia is well prepared to start using the euro currency as of Jan. 1. The commission says the former Yugoslav republic has already taken measures to ensure a smooth changeover but still needed to reassure its citizens that prices will remain stable as currencies change.