Insight Central Europe News

Bush praises patient Hungarians

Hungary has been marking the fiftieth anniversary of the crushing of the 1956 uprising by Soviet troops, which left thousands of Hungarians dead. Commemorations in Budapest were attended by the US President George Bush, who compared the attempt by Hungarians to end Stalinist rule in the 1950s to Iraq's struggle to develop into a democracy. He pointed to the patience of Hungarians, who had to wait decades for political freedom, saying that liberty could be delayed, but not denied.

Poland ill-prepared for euro adoption

The European Commission has evaluated Poland as the least prepared of all the new EU members for the introduction of the euro. A report states that Poland has not yet set a date for entering the euro zone and experts are not even aware who will be supervising the process of transition to the common currency. Poland has not defined the period of accepted parallel use of the euro and zloty, nor presented designs for the reverse side of the Polish version of the European coins.

Three Czech parties reach coalition deal

Three Czech centre and right-of-centre parties have reached a deal to form a coalition government, three weeks after the country's general election. Mirek Topolanek, whose right-wing Civic Democrats won the most votes, said his party would hold the majority of cabinet posts, including the premiership, while the rest would be divided between the Christian Democrats and centrist Greens. The coalition holds exactly half the seats in the lower house of parliament, and the deal will need the support of at least one Social Democrat or Communist deputy to be approved.

Talks begin on new Slovak government

In neighbouring Slovakia talks have also begun on creating a new government, after the left-of-centre Smer party won the most votes in last week's general election. The talks will decide the fate of sweeping free-market reforms, launched by the current Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda, whose party came second. Smer leader Robert Fico held initial talks with two other current opposition parties. He said that their policy programmes had much in common. The centre-right Christian Democrats have also indicated that they may be willing to enter a leftist government led by Mr Fico.

Corruption suspected in Austrian bank losses

A report by the Austrian National Bank printed in an Austrian news magazine says that fraud may have contributed to the loss of billions of euros in investments by one of the country's major banks, BAWAG. The report shows that over several years Chief Executive Helmut Elsner invested money into funds managed by the son of a former BAWAG director which ended up losing nearly two billion euros of the bank's money. The bank had to turn to its owner, Austria's trade union federation, to help it cover the losses.

Slovenia produces white paper on border dispute

Slovenia's Foreign Ministry has published a "white paper" outlining the country's point of view on its maritime border dispute with Croatia. Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel said that the aim was not to accuse or attack Croatia but to work for dialogue. The Croatian Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader, said that his government would study the document carefully and respond with its own report.