Insight Central Europe News

Central Europe braces itself for bird flu

Demand for flu vaccines and face masks has increased dramatically throughout Central Europe, following bird flu scares in Turkey and Romania. All EU countries have stopped the import of poultry and poultry products from both countries. Hungary, which is the only EU country bordering on Romania, has begun disinfecting all poultry in transit through Romania. Slovenia has increased controls on the import of animals and animal products and the Polish government is considering an order for all poultry to be kept indoors. The Czech Republic has also prepared an emergency strategy in the event of a pandemic.

Presidential race in Poland gets personal

Poland's presidential candidate Lech Kaczynski has sacked his campaign manager for saying the family of rival Donald Tusk had ties to Nazi Germany during World War Two. After a day of controversy and amid signs the campaign was turning nasty, Kaczynski stepped in and sacked Jacek Kurski from his campaign team. Kaczynski later apologized to his rival for the comments. Opinion polls suggest that the conservative Kaczynski is trailing free-marketeer Tusk by over ten percent as the two presidential candidates prepare for a second round run-off on Oct. 23. The left-wing candidate, Marek Borowski, who was knocked out in the first round, has put his weight behind Donald Tusk.

Hungary busts coin forgery operation

The Hungarian authorities have broken a euro coin-forging operation, arresting two people and seizing coins and equipment. Most of the coins were marked as originating in Austria and Germany, and an official from the Hungarian Central Bank said that the coins would have fooled ordinary people, but not coin machines.

Czech government approves family policy to boost EU's lowest birth rate

The Czech government has approved a strategy aimed at boosting the country's birth rate, which is among the lowest in the world. It wants to extend maternity leave for up to eight years and boost the role of the father, including the possibility of shared parental leave. The plan also foresees giving fathers the right to receive financial support if they take time off work when their child is ill, and encouraging firms to introduce creches.

Slovak opposition angry with World Bank

The Slovak government has come into conflict with the opposition party Smer over a strategic plan which the government commissioned from the World Bank. Smer leader, Robert Fico, said the report amounted to interference from abroad into Slovak domestic affairs. He claimed that the plan advises the cabinet, which is trying to push through sweeping free-market reforms, to adopt new countermeasures to resist political opposition to the changes.

Nazi compensation money for scholarships

An Austrian government committee has proposed that money left over in a fund meant to compensate people forced to work for the Nazi regime in Austria during World War II be used for scholarships and research. The Austrian Reconciliation Fund has paid more than 360 million dollars to compensate victims of the Nazis. The government's constitutional committee proposed that some of the money left over in the 524 million dollar fund be used to promote research on Nazism and other totalitarian regimes.