APV appoints members for Szerencsejatek board

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Hungary’s State Privatisation and Holding Rt (APV) sent out members of the Board of Directors of Szerencsejatek Rt, the state lottery company, and appointed a new board, APV was quoted as saying by Econews. The APV also saw eye to eye with former CEO Jozsef Gebler, who was replaced by Gabor Szekely effective July 5....


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Index.hu launches free dial-up Internet service

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Index.hu, an Internet portal, has introduced its free dial-up Internet service, called Ingyennet, to bridge the gap between telecom group Matav’s cancellation of discount tariffs earlier this month and the launch of new state-funded packages on August 1, according to Bluebull. Hungarians will have access to the new service, through analogue and ISDN phone lines, between 2am and 6pm on weekdays and 2am and 3pm on weekends in the coming weeks. The service is now under testing phase. PSINet Hungary...


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GlaxoSmithKline opens new vaccine plant in Hungary

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GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical groups, has launched a recently obtained and revamped vaccine production facility in the eastern town of Godollo. The Anglo-American company purchased the facility from Human Rt, a subsidiary of Israeli Teva. It plans to develop the plant into a top producer of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines within the next three years. GSK, which has shelled out GBP 10 million for the Hungarian plant, anticipates it will be able to exp...


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ORTT kicks off inquiry against Pannon Radio

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ORTT, the Hungarian state media supervision board, has kicked off a pressing review of right-wing radio station Pannon Radio’s morning broadcast on July 4, ORTT spokeswoman Eva Vekony said. According to the board, the broadcast persuaded listeners to take part in the unauthorised protest at the Erzsebet Bridge that played havoc on traffic. No other information was disclosed concerning what possible actions ORTT might take against Pannon Radio....


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Synergon ups Infinity stake to 70% – report

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Synergon IT Rt, a Hungarian systems integrator, said it has upped its stake in Infinity, its Czech-based unit, to 66.68 percent from 50 percent plus one share. News of the increase was disclosed through the Budapest Stock Exchange’s information system. In the February-March period, Infinity recorded HUF 730 million sales, according to Econews....


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Hungary in 51st spot – Fraser Institute

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The Canadian Fraser Institute said in its latest report on the most economically free countries that Hungary ranks 51st out of 123 nations. The report was issued during the G8 summit in the Alberta town of Kananaskis. The institute assesses the level of economic freedom based on different factors like government size, legal structure, freedom of trade with foreigners, credit, labour and business regulations, and property rights’ security....


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CBA Trade clinches top spot in retail market

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CBA Trade Kft, a supermarket chain operator, clinched the No. 1 retail spot in Hungary as it recorded revenues of HUF 295 billion (1.21 billion Euros) in 2001. The ranking was determined by market research group ACNielsen Hungary Kft and disclosed in the Mai Piac trade paper, according to BBJ. Co-op Hungary Rt ranked second with hypermarket chain Tesco Global Stores Rt rounded out the top three. Their turnover figures amounted to HUF 260 billion and HUF 188 billion, respectively.
Some other gro...


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Ministry launches plan to offer new Net access prices

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Hungary’s IT and Telecommunications Ministry said Matav Rt, the country’s No. 1 telecom group, said it would keep its flat-rate Internet access package until the first of next month. In a statement, the ministry said it launched a plan wherein the government and ISPs would offer equal amounts of funding to ensure that clients get advantageously priced Net access packages.
According to the new plan, night time rates will be 85 percent cheaper than official telephone rates.
A group of 10 consume...


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Kovacs: Medgyessy’s claim on IMF secret is plausible

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Laszlo Kovacs, leader of the Hungarian Socialist Party and foreign minister, acknowledged that Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy’s claim that the country was able to keep its plans to join the IMF secret from the KGB for some time is plausible, Interfax quoted the foreign minister as telling the Hungarian International Press Association. Although Kovacs was never a member of the secret services, he admitted to participating in a small group working within the communist party about 20 years ago that...


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Poor market conditions force ITI to cancel IPO

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ITI Holdings media group did not carry out its planned initial public offering because of poor market conditions, a high offer price and worries about the ITI’s ownership structure lacking transparency, the company said in a statement, cited by Bluebull. ITI Holdings cancelled the IPO after the subscription closed. Media reports had claimed this IPO was going to be the largest seen on the Warsaw Stock Exchange since 2000. ITI Holdings controls the nation’s second largest commercial station TVN, ...


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lektrim energy scheme ready end-July – report

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Elektrim’s energy scheme should be ready by the end of July, Bluebull quoted an unofficial source as saying. “There are three options for Elektrim to choose from,” the source said. These are: creation of a new entity, consolidation within the group, or to keep the company structure as is and to slash costs. If the company were to decide on consolidation, it would entail an alliance between energy investment contractor Megadex with energy dealer Elektrim Volt. “Such a company would have an annual...


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Treasury says willing to give up 11% of TPSA

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Poland’s Treasury Ministry announced it would be willing to give up 11 percent of its shares in TPSA to stock exchange investors, WBJ reported citing the Puls Biznesu. Based on the report, the ministry had planned to issue a tender for the TPSA stake by December 2002. However, the ministry’s press office later denied such a claim. Treasury Minister Wiesaw Kaczmarek was quoted as telling the daily Rzeczpospolita that he is working on the next phase of TPSA’s sell-off, saying: “It’s not a final de...


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OECD: GDP growth for 2003 to reach just 2.5%

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Poland’s GDP growth for 2003 will stand at only 2.5 percent compared to the 3.1 percent government estimate, OECD said in its latest report. Main culprit for the laggard pace of economic growth is the decline of investments brought on by higher interest rates two years ago. “It is important to tighten fiscal policy next year,” the OECD report said. “If not, Poland might face many years of high budget deficits, high unemployment and larger public debt,” it added. This will likely happen if the co...


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Huta Czestochowa’s money woes

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Polish steel mill Huta Czestochowa must resolve its huge debt problem if it wants to keep operating until it is consolidated with state giant Polish Steel (PHS), WBJ quoted Huta Czestochowa’s President Wacaw Korczak as saying. “The synergy between Huta Czestochowa and the other four (PHS) mills is not as strong as the synergy within that group of mills,” Korczak said. “We have integrated production, so we don’t need to buy steel to increase our production and sales ... The primary achievement of...


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M&As to intensify in 2003 despite lacklustre H1

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Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in Poland will intensify in 2003 even though the first six months of 2002 showed a lacklustre performance, WBJ quoted Krzysztof Rozen, head of KPMG Corporate Finance for Central and Eastern Europe, as saying. “I would expect that the situation will start improving after the next six months,” Rozen said. “(Companies) are now coming out of the slowdown.”
Dealogic said in its latest report that M&A deals were worth USD 700 million, representing a 40 percent drop from...


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New, controversial ban on second-hand clothing

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Poland recently implemented a new and controversial government ban on second-hand textile and shoe imports even though many believe the challenging restrictions could leave scores of citizens without decent clothing, according to WBJ.
The new law, which was initiated to ensure that the country’s textile industry, worth GBP 40 million, will not falter and be whipped by imported second-hand fashions, valued at GBP 28 million.
Those who oppose the ban include fashion designers, actors and models....


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Security firms seeking consolidations with SMEs

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Security companies in Poland are increasing their efforts to consolidate thanks mainly in part to the sales of small and domestic companies; many banks are now selling off their security and cash-processing businesses, according to WBJ.
Securitas Polska head Pawe Rafalski noted that banks are giving up their internal security services and cash-processing businesses or divisions out-and-out because the majority of them are hoping to contract out these services. Securitas Polska purchased cash-pr...


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Belka resigns, many worry budget deficit will balloon

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In a surprise move, Marek Belka, finance minister and deputy premier in Poland’s left-wing government, resigned Tuesday before last after eight months in office amid news that Poland’s 2003 economic budget deficit would balloon to 4.5 percent of gross domestic product. Belka cited “personal reasons” for the resignation, saying his “energetic potential” in the post had been “burned out.” “It’s hard work. I’ve always said that in Poland the work of a finance minister is seasonal work,” Belka told ...


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CSSD on new cabinet

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The CSSD chair recently spoke with President Vaclav Havel concerning the formation of the new cabinet, which will have 16 members, according to PBJ. Besides Spidla as premier, four deputy chairs - CSSD’s Stanislav Gross (interior) and Pavel Rychetsky (justice), KDU-CSL’s Cyril Svoboda (foreign affairs) and US-DEU’s Petr Mares (culture) will join the cabinet.
Bohuslav Sobotka (finance), Jaroslav Tvrdik (defence), Petra Buzkova (education), Marie Souckova (health) Jaroslav Palas (agriculture) and...


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eEurope 2005: Writing future history

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EU on the right path to dream economy by 2010

The Europeans declared at Lisbon Summit the eager desire, determination and dedication to make the European Union the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy with improved employment and social cohesion by 2010. Racing to meet this objective eEurope Action Plans are being churned out, adopted and implemented over the recent years. eEurope 2005, which got the nod at the Sevilla European Council last month, provides a favourable environ...


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CAP reform must carry on

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There is no doubt that the European Union is in deep trouble over the principles on which to base its new agricultural policy. The first of those principles, as laid down by the Commission, is to change the focus of the support from production to producers. Indeed the document that was produced endorses the idea that the focus of aid should shift from production to the farmers themselves.
This principle triggered the past two reforms of the EU agricultural policy in 1992 and 1999. Now we have...


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US behind Trans-Afghan gas pipeline

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US government plans to support the implementation of a gas pipeline project carrying Turkmen gas across Afghanistan to Pakistan signal the increase of Washington’s role in the transportation energy supplies in the region under the watchful eye of Moscow. US Ambassador to Turkmenistan Laura E Kennedy said Washington fully backs the nearly 1,500-kilometre gas pipeline, which will be built along the Dovletabad (Turkmenistan)-Kandagar (Afghanistan)-Multan (Pakistan) route. It will have a capacity of...


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That Mess in the Middle East

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The European Union under the Danish presidency is attempting to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which lies buried with the dead of the two protagonists amid the wreckage of Palestinian towns and the blasted hopes of those Israelis and Arabs who thought that peace was a real possibility. The EU wants to return to the “small steps” approach, which ultimately failed after being initiated years ago at Oslo. The Danes will propose this at a meeting in New York this week which it is call...


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EU chooses cyber space to dream economy by 2010

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The Europeans declared at the Lisbon Summit the eager desire, determination and dedication to make the European Union the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy with improved employment and social cohesion by 2010. Racing to meet this objective eEurope Action Plans are being churned out, adopted and implemented over the recent years.
eEurope 2005, which got the nod at the Sevilla European Council last month, provides a favourable environment for private investment and for the crea...


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Polish prosecutors close book on Jedwabne pogrom

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A day before the 61st anniversary of the macabre 1941 Jedwabne pogrom, Polish war crimes investigators last Tuesday said Poles played a “decisive” role in the massacre but the evidence was too thin to warrant prosecution. Forgotten for decades, a book by Polish historian Jan Tomasz Gross shocked Polish and world opinion by contending the evidence he gathered pointed to a mob of Polish villagers rounding up and burning about 1,600 of their Jewish neighbours in Jedwabne.
Presenting the conclusio...


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World AIDS Conference: World listens, pleads and pledges but “How much?” remains the question

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Angry AIDS protestors shouted down a US cabinet level minister at the international conference on AIDS last Tuesday, causing him to halt his speech for 15 minutes, media reports said. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson was speaking at the 14th World AIDS conference in Barcelona, Spain, where the main focus was on raising at least USD 10 billion a year to fight the deadly disease.
About 100 protesters demanding more US funds for the campaign carried signs saying “Wanted: Bush and...


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Thumbs down for Denmark…

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(Re Danish EU presidency promises enlargement, Issue No. 476)
I’m still baffled whenever I read about Denmark’s rise to presidency in the European Union and how its actions will result in fruitful outcomes because I find it utterly incomprehensible that a nation, which has chosen not to participate in some aspects of the EU, namely Eurozone, can actually succeed in keeping its position in the 15-member state bloc.
I also don’t mean to point out Denmark solely in this regard, as we are all wel...


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…But Some Thumbs Up

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Kudos go to Denmark for gaining the presidency of the European Union at a time where many challenges will be thrust upon it. I believe Denmark will lead the Union to carry out key reforms, particularly agriculture, and will be successful in bridging the gap between the member states and the candidate countries.
For a tiny state in terms of physical size, Denmark surely has a great deal to offer. And for anyone who is wary about its position in the EU, have no fear because Denmark will bring on...


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Bin Laden Status Unknown

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He was called Americas Public Enemy Number One. He was the main reason why the US military launched its billion dollar campaign against Afghanistan. Then, Osama bin Laden was quickly forgotten.
Bush has said bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist network were responsible for the September 11 attacks. Shortly after, Bush said he wanted bin Laden “dead or alive.” Since then, Bush and other US officials have downplayed the search for bin Laden, saying the more important goal is disrupting the al-Qae...


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Freedom fighters

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(Re: Turkmen exiles appeal to international interest, Issue no. 476)
Turkmenistan’s exiles have finally managed to put their word across on an international level, but much work still is needed for the achievement of justice and fair governing in their country.
The recent anti-terror war has inevitably turned our interest to the countries neighbouring Afghanistan.
Alike me, thousands of people around the world had been totally unaware of the political situation in these countries.
Yet, so...


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German election: Still hinging on unemployment

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Unemployment in Germany’s eastern region has hit its highest level since the nation’s historic unification in 1990 as the region’s hard-pressed economy fails to create job in the face of weak economic growth. Despite a massive transfer of public funds from the west to help rebuild the shattered economy of the nation’s former communist east, unemployment will average this year 1.4 million - its highest in 12 years, the German daily Berliner Zeitung reported last Monday.
The newspaper story is b...


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US runs into opposition on war crimes immunity

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In the week that the United States insisted that its military be exempt from possible war crimes prosecution in the new international court, the Afghan government angrily accused the Americans of the wanton killing by an air raid of dozens of Afghans attending a wedding party.
The US government has expressed its regrets over the loss of life and injury in the Afghan raid but insists that it had firm information that anti-aircraft fire had come from the targeted compound. The coincidence of the ...


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Internal Market: Europe’s music industry rages against music for free mentality

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Free public access to music on the Internet is driving thousands of artists out of work and threatening the future of Europe’s recording industry, music executives and top stars warned last Wednesday. “Music for free may sound attractive but it means less new music, fewer new artists, less choice, thousands less jobs and a poorer European culture,” Jay Berman of the International Federation of the Phonograph Industry (IFPI) told reporters.
Despite the industry’s success in restricting cyber acc...


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CAP Reforms: EC agrees radical farm overhaul Union set to dislodge the yoke of farm subsidies burden

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Long-awaited European Commission proposals for reforming the European Union’s multi-billion Euro farm policy will help the bloc’s plans for eastward expansion and boost Europe’s standing in global trade discussions, European Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler promised last Wednesday. The Commission’s new farm blueprint is no minor face-lift for Europe’s 45-year-old common agricultural policy (CAP), Fischler told reporters.
In a series of bold steps, the reform package snaps a long-standing and co...


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Prodi and Schroeder

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The European Commission held a special seminar on industrial policy last week following persistent demands from German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that the European Union must not forget its manufacturing roots. Earlier officials said the special meeting, chaired by European Commission President Romano Prodi, would review EU industrial policy and the coordination of Europe’s social, environmental and economic policies.
Following talks with Schroeder in April, Prodi said he recognised the impor...


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Aid: EU set to give Nigeria 600 million Euros in aid

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The European Union will sign a new 600 million Euro aid package for Nigeria this week, reviving cooperation links frozen in 1996 because of human rights concerns. European Development Commissioner Poul Nielson will visit Nigeria on July 15-17 for talks with President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Commission said.
The new aid package, worth 596 million Euros will cover the period 2002-2007, and includes funds frozen since 1996 when Nigeria came under military rule. “With the transition towards democrac...


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Indonesia gets 13.3 million Euros for democratic reforms

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The European Commission last Wednesday provided 13.3 million Euros to Indonesia to help reform its government over the next four years, EU officials said. “The overall objective for EC’s support is to promote democracy and good governance in Indonesia through the development of transparent and accountable systems, and operations required in Indonesia’s social institutions,” said an European Union official in Indonesia.
The 13.3 million Euros will be channelled through the so-called “Partnership...


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