Insight Central Europe News

Czechs and Slovaks mark 16th anniversary of Velvet Revolution

Czechs and Slovaks on Thursday marked the 16th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. On November 17, 1989, an attack by riot police against demonstrating students in Prague sparked mass protests around the country that eventually led to the fall of the Czechoslovak Communist government. Czech President Vaclav Klaus described the event as a key moment in history; those who had experienced the events that followed experienced the birth of freedom, he said.

Historian David Irving arrested in Austria

The far-right British historian David Irving has been arrested in Austria on charges of denying the Holocaust. Mr Irving is the author of numerous books on the Second World War, including some which challenge the extent of the Holocaust. David Irving was pulled over by police while driving in the southern Austrian province of Styria. He was taken into custody on the basis of an arrest warrant issued in Vienna in 1989, when it was alleged that he gave a speech denying the existence of the gas chambers used by the Nazis to murder millions of Jews.

Washington in talks with Warsaw over military base

The United States is holding talks with Poland about establishing a military base there to shoot down long-range missiles fired from the Middle East or Africa that could threaten Europe, the Pentagon said on Thursday. Although Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, said his government was considering hosting US missile-defence sites, no immediate decision is expected in the talks with Poland. However, Pentagon officials say the possible future base in Poland would be part of a broader missile-defence system being developed by the United States and would begin operating no earlier than 2010.

EU urges Hungary to lower budget deficit

The European Union has urged Hungary to lower its growing budget deficit or else do without financial aid. With the deficit expected to reach 6.9 percent of the country's GDP by 2007, the European Commission warned that Hungary will not be able to enter the Euro zone when planned. The EU's ceiling is 3 percent of GDP. If Hungary fails to lower its deficit, the EU will freeze access to the cohesion fund, which finances motorway construction and environmental clean-up projects and could be worth hundreds of million euros over the next few years.

Slovenia begins construction of second of five planned hydroelectric plants

Slovenia's state-owned power utility, HSE, has begun construction of the second of five planned hydroelectric plants. The Blanca plant is to begin operations in 2009. It is part of a state project, which aims to produce over 20 percent of the country's installed hydro generation with five plants by 2018. Construction of the third plant at Krsko is expected to begin next year.

Greenpeace activists cease blockade of ship carrying GM soya beans to Poland

Bad weather conditions on Thursday forced a group of environmental activists to stop a campaign against the import of genetically modified soya beans to Poland. The forty Greenpeace activists from ten countries tried to prevent a ship that was bringing in 25,000 tonnes of beans from Argentina from landing its cargo at Gdynia port. Activists had tied themselves and a rubber boat to the ship's anchor chain for five hours when temperatures suddenly dropped below freezing point and weather conditions worsened to dangerous levels.

The campaign - the largest of its sort ever held in Poland by the Greenpeace organisation - was in protest at GMO crops, which environmental activists say pose health hazards for consumers and are destructive to the environment in which they are grown.