…notes plans to slash military service

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The government intends to reduce conscription to eight months after 2006 in a phased decline, Defence Minister Yiannos Papantoniou noted last Sunday. In an interview on state-run NET television, Papantoniou explained the decline would commence next year, falling to 12 months in the army, 14 months in the air force and 15 months in the navy. ....


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Government promises pay raises for 2003

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Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis has reiterated the government's promise of above-inflation wage and pension rises for next year. He also said major increases in spending would be ordered in the health, education, and social insurance sectors....


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Starbucks in cradle of civilisation

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American tastes to challenge Greek frappe tradition

Hoping to challenge the well-established Greek coffee house, Starbucks Coffee Co. has recently opened its first branch in a country gradually developing new tastes beyond the traditional brew.
Starbucks has some 5,790 locations throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim, in light of which Peter Maslen, president of Starbucks Coffee International, noted: "This is historically such an important country ... We couldn...


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ING Asset Management launches new market fund

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ING Asset Management has introduced a new money market fund, Bluebull quoted the group's general manager Zsolt Kovacs as saying. According to him, the average length of the fund portfolio's investment period would be up to 182 days. Kovacs explained the main aim of the market fund will be to improve services and introduce a portfolio division service. Only institutional investors and enterprises will be permitted to work with the fund, however. Under the plan, the bank will charge 0.85 percent o...


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Budapest home to new daily newspaper

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Residents of Budapest can now read a new paper that is published daily. The City Rag went on sale recently and it is the first wide-ranging, general news publication to focus on events in Budapest, according to BBJ. Budapest Piac Trade Rt owns the 32-to-40-page paper. Piac Trade already operates the publishing of a free advertising paper in the capital city. An editorial team of 50 people will produce the daily paper....


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Origo.hu holds top spot for third consecutive year

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Matav's Internet portal Origo.hu ranks number 1 in Hungary, Bluebull reported citing a recent poll conducted by Szonda Ipsos, a local poll institute. According to the data, some 200,000 people make 600,000 visits and download five million pages from the Origo.hu site on an average day....


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MAV says will report 123 mln Euro loss this year

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State-owned railway group MAV Rt announced it could post losses of some HUF 30 billion (123 million Euro) in 2002, according to Bluebull. MAV chief Laszlo Udvari said the large loss is likely even though the company's state subsidies increase each year....


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8-mo C/A deficit climbs to 2.089 billion Euro

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National Bank of Hungary said in its latest report that the state's current account deficit totalled 74 million Euro in August, according to Interfax. The eight-month deficit stood at 2.089 billion, against a surplus of 201 million Euro. The drop was mainly due to an adjustment made by the bank to a growing trade deficit and a shrinking services surplus, most notably in the tourism sector. Tourism revenues stood at 377 million Euro and spending dropped by 32 million Euro year-on-year.
August's ...


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Hungary’s EPC membership to benefit foreign investors

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Foreign investors will profit more than domestic investors once Hungary enters the European Patent Convention (EPC) in 2003, BBJ quoted experts as saying. "Foreigners will merely have to put one more tick on the European patent application form beside Hungary's name, and the procedure will become simpler and cheaper for them, so more investors are likely to apply for patent protection in Hungary," Gyorgy Pintz, trademark attorney at Pintz and Partners, was quoted as saying. "But while the proced...


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Families reap benefits of new Idea service

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PTK Centertel, aiming to attract "family" business, has introduced a new range of mobile phone services that offers a single package of services for use by several telephone numbers. Both new and existing customers of the Idea network are eligible for and can now purchase a monthly package, for between 99.99 zlotys and 139.97 zlotys. The packages can be used on two, three or four numbers, while a group of users will be able to take advantage of lower rates on calls and SMS messages, as well as a...


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…in hot pursuit of strategic investor

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Previously known as Telefonia Lokalna, Telefonia Dialog, together with its KGHM owner, is presently in search of a strategic investor. Dialog, which entered the market in 1997 and had 293,000 subscribers at end-2001, secured 194,000 new clients in 2001, representing a 196 percent increase. The operator's plans to up its subscriber numbers to 430,000-450,000 by the end of this year, implies an investment of some 400-500 million zlotys in its network, mainly in expansion and the launch of services...


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Mazowieckie voivodship boosts 2000 per capita GDP figures

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Recent figures released by the Main Statistical Office (GUS) show that the average values of per capita GDP for Poland in 2000 amounted to 17,725 zlotys (boosted by the Mazowieckie voivodship at 26,871 zlotys), while the median was 15,860 zlotys. High figures were also reported in the voivodships of Dolnoslaskie (18,324 zlotys), Mazowieckie (26,871 zlotys) and Wielkopolskie (18,900 zlotys)....


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Sugar production may exceed consumption needs, quotas

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Information released by the US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service Web site Friday before last, shows that Poland's centrifugal sugar production is likely to reach two million tonnes, almost 15 percent more than domestic use needs.
Planted area for sugar beets, according to preliminary information from the Main Statistical Office (GUS), this year amounts to 303,000 hectares, representing a 4.5 percent decrease from last year. While spring and summer weather conditions varie...


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MTV without a new president still – report

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Hungarian Television Rt (MTV) has yet to appoint a new president. Main problem is the rising discord among the delegates of the group's board of trustees, according to BBJ. Although Gyorgy Balo clinched the two-thirds majority approval of the presidium of political trustees on MTV's board, comprised of nine delegates of the four parliamentary parties, needed for nomination to the post, he failed to obtain the majority vote of the 21 trustees representing civil groups, BBJ wrote....


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MVM unit to sell energy to the corporate world

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MVM Rt, a state-controlled power grid operator, announced it has launched a new unit, called MVM Partner Energy Trade Rt, to sell electricity to corporate clients following the liberalisation of the domestic electricity market, which is scheduled to kick off in early 2003, according to Bluebull. Effective next year, clients using over 6.5 GWh of electricity each year will have the right to select a supplier of their choice. However, they will not be permitted to import over 50 percent of their e...


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Zollner opens second production plant in Hungary

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German electronics components maker Zollner has inaugurated its second plant in Hungary, located at Szugy, according to Bluebull. The HUF 4 billion (16.4 million Euro) plant was constructed on a site of 30 hectares. Main area of activity will be production of bases for office printers and photocopiers, and cases for extensive data-storage systems and x-ray equipment, Zollner Elektronics Szugy Managing Director Jozsef Ogl was quoted as saying. The German group said it will inject another HUF 500 ...


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Ferenc: Hungary eyeing bigger ties with Vietnam

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Hungary plans to strengthen its ties with Vietnam, particularly in the politics, economy, culture, education, and science and technology spheres, Hungarian President Madl Ferenc said, cited by the Vietnamese news agency VNS. Ferenc's comments were made at a ceremony to receive the credentials of Tran Huu Tung, the new Vietnamese ambassador.
The Hungarian leader reiterated his nation will consider Vietnam as its key partner in the Southeast Asia region. According to Ferenc, education could poten...


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Stock exchange revival

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Removal of restrictions, taxes connected to capital market investment at hand

The Hungarian government is making a sound effort to revive the Budapest Stock Exchange Rt (BIT). It plans to remove various restrictions and taxes related to capital market investment in 2003, BBJ said in a report. A promotional campaign to boost awareness of investment opportunities will also be kicked off.
Workers will be permitted to pay up to eight percent of their wages into private pension funds instead of t...


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KGHM to extend credit term for Telefonia Dialog…

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KGHM Polska Miedz has plans to convert shares in its dependent company (100 percent) Telefonia Dialog into short-term bonds redeemable in the second half of December 2002. Dialog, which owes KGHM more than 950 million zlotys in bonds issued, was already 400 million zlotys in debt when the copper mining giant assumed full control of it. KGHM continued to acquire bonds issued by the dependent company, which were due for redemption at the end of last month, PMR reported. Following an agreement betw...


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Warsaw employment offices record lowest unemployment

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At the end of the 2002 first half, the lowest unemployment rates in Poland were recorded in the areas under the local employment offices in Warsaw (6.1 percent), Poznan (7.1 percent) and Siemiatycze in the Podlaskie voivodship (7.2 percent). The highest unemployment rates were recorded in the areas covered by three local employment offices in the Zachodniopomorskie voivodship: Lobez (38.6 percent), Bialogard (36.4 percent), and Drawsko Pomorskie (36.1 percent), PMR reported....


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Economic climate riding on tails of proposed 2003 budget

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Following two months of growth, August marked a year-on-year decline in industrial output of 1.1 percent, or 0.8 percent if seasonal factors are excluded, while construction output continued to show a decrease.
An increase in the turnover of goods in foreign trade, after the first seven months of this year, was slightly higher than in previous periods of 2002: seven percent in exports, and 4.8 percent in imports.
In the same month, average employment in the enterprise sector was still lower co...


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Cigarette makers fly off the handle over new tobacco bill

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Tobacco firms are bracing themselves for a sharp hike in duty on imports of tobacco as of this week. While cigarette makers worry that the duty increase will eat into profits, as they will have to maintain imports so as to produce consistent tobacco blends, the government hopes the move will prompt them to switch to domestic product and thus help boost sales for troubled Polish growers.
In a bill passed by the cabinet early last month and due to come in effect this week, the Finance Ministry ha...


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Government intent on rescue of troubled firms

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The Industry and Trade Ministry Friday before last told CTK that the Czech government should by year's-end discuss up to 10 revitalisation projects for problem industrial companies and, last Monday, was ready to deal with the rescue of Obrabeci stroje Olomouc, Elite and Metra Blansko. While the first two companies are likely to be sold, Metra has been marked for restructuring with state assistance. At the same time, the ministry will propose to cabinet that the selection of strategic and financi...


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Investors for Prague plan 25 bln crown investments

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Investors associated with the Investors for Prague 8 consortium have plans to build offices (totalling 450,000 square metres), hotels and flats for at least 25 billion Czech crowns in the locality over the next five years. The information was released by Arnost Hejduk of the Prague DC agency, which represents the consortium in the media. He noted that capital for these investments comes from, among other countries, Austria, Germany, France, Italy, the UK and the US. The Prague 8 quarter, and Kar...


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Cabinet begins discussion of 2003 state budget

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The Czech cabinet was due to discuss a proposal for the 2003 state budget last week. Submitted by the Finance Ministry, the budget expects revenues of 679.7 billion crowns and expenditures of 837 billion crowns, media reported. The ministries are requesting an extra 40.6 billion crowns, of which the Transportation Ministry has asked for an additional 14.3 billion crowns, the Education Ministry for 7.2 billion crowns, and the Labour Ministry for 5.8 billion crowns....


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Ministers disagree on new Unipetrol tender

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Jiri Rusnok, Czech minister of Industry and Trade, has proposed that petrochemical group Unipetrol be sold in a new privatisation tender as a whole in order to accelerate the transfer. This is contrary to the view of Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who has proposed selling off Unipetrol's subsidiaries one by one, Czech AM reported. It is expected that the tender for a 63 percent state stake will be prepared by the end of this year....


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CTU blocks Czech Telecom plans

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The Czech Telecommunications Office (CTU) has blocked Czech Telecom's earlier reported plans to introduce a new system of charging users for dial-up Internet as well as the way ISPs and telcos share revenue between them.
The decision was made just a day after Czech Telecom presented its final plans, insisting that it was not in violation of a standing CTU injunction aimed at blocking their implementation. However, Telecom has said it will adhere to the final decision, Prague Business Journal re...


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OKD layoff threats add to woes of jobless Karvina residents

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Some 26,123 of the north Moravian region of Karvina's 250,000 inhabitants are without work with no signs that the current unemployment rate of 19.2 percent will level off any time soon. In addition, new record levels of unemployment are such a frequent phenomenon that the local labour office hardly has time to notice the trend.
With every job vacancy attracting around 80 applicants, Jiri Montag, director of the Karvina employment office, stated: "We can't say that it doesn't make any difference...


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Generic drug makers complaining process for product approval unfair

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The State Institute for Drug Control (SUKL) has for some time now found itself to be the subject of controversy as generic drug producers claim it is giving higher priority to innovative drugs produced in the EU. The Czech Pharmaceutical Association together with individual firms have noted that the registration of generic drugs can take nearly eight months longer than drugs already registered in the EU.
This makes it almost impossible for domestic producers to adequately compete with foreign c...


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US Steel Kosice signs deal with SMS Demag

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US Steel Kosice has entered into an agreement with German company SMS Demag AG for the supply of a new line of isotropic sheets for the electro-technical industry, Interfax quoted the steel maker's spokewoman, Anna Misinova, as telling the Czech news agency CTK. Valued at several million US dollars, the agreement will permit the Slovak arm of the US group US Steel to increase its annual output of dynamo sheets by 90,000 tonnes. The France-based group Stein Heurtey will supply the line's new tech...


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State budget deficit shrinks in September

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The Slovak Finance Ministry announced the state budget deficit dropped to 17.83 billion Slovak crowns in September from 22.66 billion crowns in the previous month, according to Interfax. However, the figure was 2.78 billion crowns more than September 2001. The state budget deficit reached 32.19 billion crowns in the first nine months of this year, up by 9.31 billion crowns. Costs of 14.37 billion crowns in bank restructuring were primarily the reason behind the rise, the ministry said. State rev...


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Charges against ministry officials in railways procurement scandal

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Some Transport Ministry officials have been charged by Slovak police with misusing classified information in a railways procurement scandal a few months ago, which resulted in the sacking of Transport Minister Jozef Macejko, according to The Slovak Spectator. Deputy Minister Michal Balog and office leader Peter Klucka were also charged, the paper said. Jozef Baksay, the former Czechoslovak minister of Transport, was accused of trying to corrupt Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda's brother Miroslav,...


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Ethnic Hungarian party calling for post-WWII compensation

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The Slovak Spectator wrote local reports said the SMK ethnic Hungarian party, which is currently negotiating its participation in the four-party coalition for the new government, is urging that compensation for Hungarians who were stripped of property at the end of World War II be included in the government programme. The reports said problems might emerge with the demand because local parties have said it is practically the same as challenging a series of state edicts issued by Czechslovak lead...


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Rautenbach arm opens revamped plant

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Car body parts maker Rautenbach Slovakia recently inaugurated a revamped plant in central Slovakia, worth 13 million Euro. The company will be making parts for Czech Skoda, German Porsche and Audi and South Korean Daewoo automakers. Parent company Rautenbach of Germany said it will shell out another 30 million Euro for the Slovak plant in four years' time to increase production and the number of staff....


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EU Enlargement: Slovakia joins the select band of nations

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Mihok hails domestic election result on way to EU membership

Taking a decisive step to end Europe's decades-old east-west divide, top European Union officials last Wednesday identified 10 mainly central and eastern European states including Slovakia as ready to join the bloc in 2004, producing delight among them all. All 10 countries will wrap up negotiations with the EU at end 2002, with accession treaties expected to be signed in spring 2003.
Slovakia applied for the European Union membe...


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Putin’s rating surges in September – poll

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The popularity rating of Russian President Vladimir Putin saw an unprecedented surge in September. According to sociologists from the All-Russian Centre for Public Opinion Studies, 58 percent of Russians would give their vote for Putin, an 11 percent increase from August. Simultaneously, Putin's confidence rating went up seven percent to 54 percent, the highest since he became president. About 77 percent of respondents approve of the president's performance, while 20 percent disapprove of it. Le...


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Ivanov reaffirms Russia’s independent policy

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Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has reaffirmed Russia's independent policy on the international arena. "Russia will always have an independent voice in international affairs," Interfax quoted Ivanov as telling a conference sponsored by the Russian Armenians Union. "Russia is not seeking an exclusive status, nor does it want the role of a big brother in the post-Soviet space," he said. Russia "will continue to strengthen strategic stability and international security, promote the limitation and redu...


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