Insight Central Europe News

Slovenia celebrates EC green light for euro adoption in 2007

Slovenia had a good week this week - the European Commission gave the country the green light to join the euro zone on January 1st 2007. Slovenia will become the first of the eight former communist countries which joined the EU in 2004 to adopt the single European currency. The Commission's recommendation on Slovenia will now be discussed by the European Parliament and EU leaders, and is expected to get the final stamp of approval from EU finance ministers in July.

Hungarian PM warns euro-related austerity measures will require sacrifice

Across the border in Hungary, however, and there was little to celebrate as Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany warned his people austerity measures linked to euro adoption would require sacrifice from every Hungarian family. Mr Gyurcsany, who was re-elected prime minister in April, has the unenviable task of tackling the highest deficit in the EU - 6.1 percent of GDP - if Hungary is to bring its public spending under control and adopt the euro as planned in 2010. The prime minister said plans to slash the country's bloated bureaucracy would not be enough - Hungarian families will have to tighten their belts if they want euros jingling in their pockets.

US Senate passes law exempting Poles from visa requirement

The US Senate approved legislation which would effectively exempt Poles from requiring a visa to enter the United States, in recognition of Poland's support for the Iraq war. The two-year visa waiver amendment, which still requires approval by the House of Representatives, does not mention Poland by name, but applies to EU countries which have at least 300 soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan. The news was a blow to other Central European countries, including the Czech Republic, whose foreign minister Cyril Svoboda has lobbied hard to have visas lifted for Czechs.

Muted ceremony in Seoul as Czechs sign deal with troubled carmaker Hyundai

There was a muted ceremony in the South Korean capital Seoul as Czech Trade and Industry Minister Milan Urban signed a contract with the carmaker Hyundai to build a factory in the Czech town of Nosovice. Hyundai had originally planned to hold the signing ceremony in Nosovice, but was forced to change its plans after the arrest of the company's chairman Chung Mong-Koo on corruption charges. The contract binds Hyundai to begin construction by the end of 2007 at the latest, but reports from South Korea said the project had been postponed indefinitely.

Slovak experts suggest pilot error to blame for January crash

Slovak experts investigating a military plane crash that killed 42 people in January said they had found no technical problems with the aircraft. A Slovak Defence Ministry spokesman said experts had examined the wreckage of the Russian-made AN-24 plane but had found no evidence of technical failure. A preliminary report has suggested human error was to blame. Most of the 42 passengers were Slovak soldiers returning home from a NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.