Insight Central Europe News

17-10-2003

25 leaders of the current and future EU member states have wrapped up a two-day summit in Brussels without making much progress towards agreeing on the first constitution for the bloc. Stand offs on several key issues including voting rights have led some observers to conclude nothing will be finalised this year.

Slovakia has set a presidential election for April 3rd next year. Current President, Rudolf Schuster is still considering whether to stand for a fresh five year term, but several other candidates have announced their intention to run for the post - including Ex-Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar.

Poland's Prime Minister has denied rumours that his party wants to replace him in an effort to restore its popularity. Support for Leszek Miller and his leftist party has slumped since he took office in October 2001 following sleaze allegations against government officials and rising unemployment.

Slovenia has abolished its compulsory military service - nine months earlier than planned. The last 250 soldiers recruited through military service were discharged this week.

Meanwhile The Czech Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka has also confirmed that he wants compulsory military service to be phased out by the end of next year. If the plan is approved by parliament, the very last batch of Czech conscripts will begin their military service in April 2004.

Olympic boxing champion Laszlo Papp has died at the age of 77. The Hungarian, who won 3 consecutive Olympic gold medals between 1948 and 1956, died in hospital after a long illness. Papp also won six European professional middleweight titles. Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy says the nation had lost a hero.

17-10-2003