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Central Europe: Leaders Meet With Dutch Prime Minister

Bratislava, 19 December 2000 (RFE/RL) -- The prime ministers of Poland, Slovakia and the Czech republic met their Dutch counterpart Wim Kok in Bratislava today for talks that focused on controversial comments by German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Yesterday, the German leader expressed fears of a possible influx of low-skill laborers into the EU when the former Communist states eventually become members.

Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda downplayed such fears today, telling Kok "if we bring Europe to Bratislava, there will be no need for young people to emigrate."

The Dutch premier expressed optimism, predicting the situation with eastern labor markets will improve in three or four years.

Since the fall of the Berlin wall, thousands of low-skilled and highly-trained workers have left central Europe in search of better wages in the West.

But Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek said 500,000 million people who had left Poland in search of work elsewhere in the 1990s had already returned.