Insight Central Europe News

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Poland, Czech Republic deny part in spider's web of secret CIA jails, flights

Poland and the Czech Republic were among 20 countries implicated in what a Council of Europe report released on Wednesday called a global spider's web of secret CIA jails and flight transfers. However Poland has repeated a previous denial that the United States operated secret prisons on its territory, while the Czech authorities said as far as they knew US planes which refueled in the Czech Republic were carrying military personnel only. Critics of the report - prepared for the Council of Europe by a Swiss senator - say it is full of allegations but lacking in proof.

Hungarian government sworn in

Hungary's Socialist-led government, which was re-elected in April for a second term, was officially sworn in on Friday. The Hungarian Socialist Party and the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats have 209 of 386 seats in parliament. With a view to adopting the common European currency the euro in four years time, the government is expected to introduce tough reforms to tackle the country's deficit and various fiscal issues.

EU ministers give green light for Slovenia to adopt euro

European Union finance ministers have agreed to let Slovenia adopt the euro next year. Slovenia will become the first of the ten states which joined the EU two years ago to join the eurozone. A decision on whether to admit Lithuania was postponed to a later date.

Czech elections end in stalemate

Elections in the Czech Republic a week ago ended in political stalemate: the right-of-centre Civic Democrats came first and began talks with their two preferred partners, the Christian Democrats and the Greens (the latter entered the Czech lower house for the first time). However those three parties together would struggle to form a coalition, as they would have only 100 seats in the 200-seat Czech lower house. The other 100 seats were won by left-wing parties the Social Democrats - who led the previous government - and the Communists.

Main blocs neck and neck ahead of June 17elections

Slovakia, meanwhile, is preparing for early elections on June 17, with the leftist opposition Smer party neck and neck in the polls with a bloc of the three parties in the governing coalition. Smer's leader Robert Fico has made a number of allegations of corruption against the government led by Mikulas Dzurinda; they dismiss the claims as nonsense. With both main players at around 30 percent in the opinion polls, it is likely they will need coalition partners in order to form a new Slovak government.

Poland increases health spending in bid to keep doctors in country

Facing the threat of a further outflow of doctors seeking better paid jobs abroad, the Polish government has announced plans for substantial increases in spending on health care over the next three years. Health sector workers in Poland have demanded an immediate 30 percent pay rise; they say the country spends only 4 percent of its GDP on health care, the lowest in the EU.