Insight Central Europe News

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Poland is to investigate secret CIA prison claims

Poland is to launch an investigation to find out whether the country was used as the European centre for a secret CIA prison network. The Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz made the announcement after the Polish press reported that CIA interrogations had been carried out in the country. He said that the report must be concluded within days as the rumours were not of benefit to Polish security. The outgoing President Aleksander Kwasniewski continues to deny outright that any such prisons existed.

Austria wants to help all former Yugoslav republics join the EU

Austria will devote its six-month presidency of the European Union from January 1st to cementing EU commitment to membership for all the countries of the former Yugoslavia. A senior Austrian official, currently acting as a United Nations envoy to Kosovo, Albert Rohan, said that Vienna would "reaffirm" the EU's strained commitment to embrace the western Balkans. On Monday France proposed postponing a decision to give Macedonia candidate status. So far Slovenia is the only former Yugoslav republic in the EU.

UNICEF report reveals poverty and exclusion among Roma

A newly published survey by the United Nations Children's Fund suggests that the Roma minority throughout Eastern Europe is living in poverty and suffering exclusion. Research shows that 88 percent of Roma in Romania live below the poverty line and over 90 percent in Hungary. The survey also suggests that three quarters of Roma children in Central and Eastern Europe are attending special schools for the mentally disabled. Helping Roma children to gain access to education has become one of UNICEF's priorities in the region.

Gay marriage bill passed in Czech lower house

Gay marriage has come a step closer in the Czech Republic. The lower house of parliament has approved a bill legalizing civil partnerships for same-sex couples, despite strong opposition from Christian Democrats in the government. If the bill is rejected by the Senate, the lower house will have to hold a second vote, requiring an absolute majority for it to become law.

Croatia accuses Slovenia of abusing its EU membership

Croatia has accused Slovenia of abusing its membership in the European Union and NATO to put pressure on Zagreb over resolving a border row between the two countries. Slovenia's foreign ministry said on Monday that its maritime border dispute with Croatia must be resolved before Croatia joins the EU. Zagreb replied that linking the border issue with membership ran contrary to international standards

Slovakia's agriculture ministry recommends excluding the National Stud Farm from privatization

Slovakia's agriculture ministry has recommended that the country's National Stud Farm near the town of Topolcianky should be excluded from any future privatization plans. The ministry says that legislation should protect the renowned state-owned horse-breeding centre, as it does in Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany.