Insight Central Europe News

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Central European countries call for diversification of gas supplies

Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria have called for the European Union to diversify oil and gas supplies and extend a north-south pipeline system. Several countries in the region suffered natural gas shortfalls during the dispute over supplies between Russia and Ukraine. The Hungarian Economy Minister Janos Koka said that EU gas experts had agreed to consider building a pipeline from the Adriatic towards Central Europe to reduce dependence on Russian gas. He said Slovenia and Croatia also supported the idea. Meanwhile Austria's Economics Minister Martin Bartenstein said he welcomed the deal on supplies finally reached between Moscow and Kiev.

Slovakia Participates in UN Security Council Session for First Time

Slovakia has taken part in a United Nations Security Council session for the first time in the country's 13-year history as an independent state. The country became a non-permanent member of the Security Council on January 1 this year and its membership will last two years. Among Slovakia's priorities will be the West Balkan countries and especially the future status of Kosovo. It will also chair the committee on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

No end to Slovenia's border dispute with Croatia

The Slovenian government has said it is setting up its own fishing zone in the Adriatic. The move is likely to raise tensions with neighbouring Croatia, as the two countries are locked in a dispute over their maritime border. Slovenia's Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel said the move was a response to an act passed by Croatia at the end of last year, which claimed part of the same disputed waters. Slovenia was angered earlier in the year when Croatia and Italy agreed a demarcation of territorial waters without consulting Ljubljana.

Haider conducts "opinion" poll on dual language signs

The dispute continues in the Austrian province of Carinthia over bilingual place-name signs in German and Slovenian. Despite several court rulings that communities where more than 15 percent of the population speak Slovenian are entitled to bilingual signs, the regional governor Jörg Haider is refusing to erect the signs. Mr Haider has now begun an unofficial opinion poll, saying he wants to find out what people think of the ruling in the communities themselves.

John Paul II's car to come under the hammer

A car that once belonged to Pope John Paul II is to be auctioned in Paris next month. The car is almost 50 years old and is a Polish-made FSO Warszawa, specially ordered by the pope when he was Bishop of Krakow. The registration papers are still in his name. A spokesman for the auction house Christie's, which is handling the sale, said the car was expected to fetch between 5 and 15 thousand euros.