- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 8, 2002

Czechs lay first stone for Iron Curtain museum
PRAGUE Czech officials positioned the first stone yesterday for a museum devoted to the Iron Curtain.
The museum is to be built over three years at the former Czech border post at Kvilda, near the borders with Germany and Austria.
During the ceremony, participants re-enacted the capture of a fugitive trying to flee toward the West across the border, which was at the time one of the most heavily fortified frontiers in the world.
Premysl Sobotka, vice president of the Czech Senate, said the museum will cost $2.5 million and is being financed mainly by private donors, both from inside and outside the country.

Swiss leftists protest Italian neo-Fascist's visit
BERN, Switzerland Leftist protesters clashed with police twice yesterday as Italy's rightist deputy prime minister, Gianfranco Fini, paid a visit to the country, police said.
Mr. Fini, deputy to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is leader of the National Alliance party, a descendant of Italy's wartime Fascist movement.
Swiss police fired rubber bullets and tear gas grenades as 70 to 80 people protested Mr. Fini's visit to the capital, Bern, where the Italian minister met Swiss Economy Minister Pascal Couchepin.
There was also violence when 120 pesons protested Mr. Fini's visit to the Expo.02 art event in the canton of Vaud. Several officers were slightly injured when demonstrators threw projectiles and attacked police with iron bars and pepper spray, a Vaud police spokesman said.

Polish premier wants poll on joining EU
WARSAW Poland should hold a referendum on membership of the European Union next May, Prime Minister Leszek Miller said yesterday.
"Poland's entry into the European Union is of great national importance. The referendum on accession should be won for Poland's own good. It would be a good thing, if at all possible, to organize such a referendum next May," Mr. Miller was quoted by the PAP news agency as saying.
Poland is one of 10 candidate countries hoping to wrap up membership negotiations by the end of the year to join the European Union in 2004. Candidate countries are likely to hold referendums next year, and Poland and its regional partners Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have agreed to coordinate plans for such polls.
The Polish parliament has the last word on the date for the referendum, but Mr. Miller's party holds a comfortable majority. Opinion surveys show that more than 70 percent of Poles who intend to participate in the referendum will vote in favor of joining the European Union. The result of the vote will be binding only if more than half of those registered cast ballots.

Weekly notes
Lithuania's popular Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas said yesterday that he would not run in the Dec. 22 presidential election. Mr. Brazauskas, 70, who helped lead the Baltic republic's break with Moscow as head of its Communist Party in the late 1980s, had been seen as the strongest potential rival to President Valdas Adamkus, 75, who announced Thursday that he would seek a second five-year term. Italy's center-left opposition gathers tomorrow to plan how best to loosen Silvio Berlusconi's stranglehold on Italian politics in the fall. The two main opposition groups, the Democrats of the Left and the Daisy coalition led by Francesco Rutelli, are to meet in Rome to discuss their priorities and bury differences that threatened to drive them apart a few months ago. Sergio Cofferati, general secretary of the country's largest trades union, is due to quit that job this month, and many believe he offers the best hope of uniting the left.


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