Insight Central Europe News

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Pope Benedict XVI visits Poland

The Pope paid a visit to Poland this week - the first ever by a German pontiff. Poles gave Pope Benedict XVI a warm greeting, though not the rapturous welcome enjoyed by his predecessor, the Polish-born John Paul II. Pope Benedict said he wanted to keep alive his mentor's goals - German-Polish reconciliation, strengthening relations with Jews and keeping Poland a beacon of Catholicism in a secular Europe. The Pope's itinerary includes a visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp, a trip fraught with significance for relations between Catholics and Jews.

1956 Hungarian Uprising veterans protest at Napolitano invitation

Veterans of the 1956 anti-Communist uprising in Hungary protested this week after the authorities invited the new Italian President Giorgio Napolitano - an ex-communist - to official celebrations to mark the uprising's 50th anniversary. Three of the best-known veterans complained in an open letter to Hungary's president that Napolitano had supported the Soviet Union's bloody suppression of the uprising. The 50th anniversary commemorations will be held in October.

Czech foreign intelligence service publishes pre-1989 files

The Czech foreign intelligence service published unique documents from the Communist-era spy service, putting a large number of files and photographs on the Internet. The records describe collaboration with the Soviet KGB and other intelligence services from the Communist bloc. Releasing the files, the intelligence service said history was the property of everyone, not just historians. However the service said a number of documents were being kept secret for reasons of national security.

Slovak government in damage limitation exercise after Fico sleaze claims

Slovakia's government sought to limit the political damage from opposition charges of corruption and illicit campaign financing, dismissing them as lies intended to swing the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Robert Fico, leader of the left-wing Smer party, accused the centre-right government of financing their election campaign with kickbacks. Prime minister Mikulas Dzurinda's party said the accusations fitted a pattern of slander by Mr Fico, and predicted they would backfire. Slovaks go to the polls in early elections on June 17th.

Slovenia lifts restrictions for EU workers

The Slovene government decided to lift all restrictions on EU workers in line with Slovene efforts to see the principle of the free movement of labour implemented across the EU. Slovenia said it was dropping the reciprocal labour restrictions for citizens of the EU and the European Economic Area. The move means that workers from old EU members that have so far maintained restrictions on Slovenes working in their countries will no longer be subject to tip-for-tat Slovene restrictions.