Books on Poland
% of GDP
Update No: 096 - (26/04/05)
A major event has happened for the Poles and for all of us -
the death of Pope John Paul the second.
All but the most myopic of people would realise that this was the demise of a
very great man. He is an historic figure of titanic stature. If there is one
figure who more than any other finished off European communism, of course an
event prepared by much else, it was him.
His election in October 1978
When it was learnt in Warsaw that the Vatican had elected a Polish Pope, a man
they knew well as Cardinal Carol Wotjila, Archbishop of Cracow, the communists
in charge in Poland went into a huddle. They had a premonition that that they
had lost. They had.
It is a good story; and the best way to commemorate the departure of this great
man is to give a brief account of his historic struggle.
The end of communism
The Poles were always more likely to be led by Rome than Moscow. Cardinals mean
more in Poland than commissars. It was Stalin himself who said that:
"Communism fits Poland like a saddle does a cow."
From the moment of the election of Pope John Paul II, the key question was
'would he visit?' Of course he had to.
The Kremlin were naturally adamantly against it. But Polish Premier Gierek was
just as adamant that it had to happen. After all what conceivable respectable
reason could there be why it should not?
Catholicism in Poland is emblematic. When for more than a century there was no
Poland, it having been carved up and parcelled out by its neighbours, Prussia
was Protestant and Russia of course was Orthodox, so Poland's adherence to Rome
was more than just a religious preference - it was a statement of nationality.
Even many communist officials and their families were practicing Catholics, and
with few exceptions, all of them were to some degree, Polish patriots. So the
pride in having a Polish pope elected, would have created inner conflict for
many with their loyalty to the doctrines of communism.
This was a very decisive moment in the history of communism. Gierek must have
known that he was signing his political death-warrant in the process. He was. He
was also signing the death-warrant of European communism itself.
For a week in the autumn of 1999 the whole of Poland was dedicated to the
itinerary of the pope around the country, punctuated by innumerable masses,
every single one of them saying to the powers that-be: "We are not
Communists, but Catholics."
It culminated in a mass gathering in the central square of the capital. A Polish
security man looking out on the scene from a balcony turned to his KGB
counterpart and said: "Ivan; this means the end of Polish Socialism."
He was of course right: albeit the action took another decade to play itself
out. Solidarity, military rule, and the rest of it. Actually, it amounted to the
end of communism itself.
That is another story. The key point is that Poland is bereft. Its greatest son
Apart from his role in the collapse of European communism, he never flinched at
the great political moral issues of the day. When Bosnia was suffering
appallingly with ethnic cleansing by the Serbs, he almost alone of world leaders
loudly declared it to be a crime against humanity, at a time when the European
and American leaders were purposely doing nothing, hoping only that the issue
would go away. Just as it was one of the blackest and most disgraceful periods
for the great democratic governments and for the UN, Pope John Paul II stood up
and in doing so, had one of his finest hours.
Similarly he condemned the invasion of Iraq, flat-out with no fudging, at a time
when even those leaders opposed to it were governing their words, so as not to
further offend the mighty USA.
The Pope was not enamoured of the society that emerged from the downfall of
communism. He constantly railed against the 'materialism and vulgarity' of the
He kept himself well-informed about Polish developments and was appalled at what
happened. Having escaped the pitfalls of the East, dictatorship and demonic
perfidy, Poland to him, sunk back into the vices of the West, corruption, sexual
perversion and gross materialism. He made a point of leaving precisely zero in
his will (of course the master of the Vatican, once elected, had no financial
problems from that point on - but he was not of course a grasping type).
If there is ever a moment to reflect on the larger significance of Polish
history, and indeed of human history, this is surely the moment to do so. The
Polish contribution to Europe has never been fully appreciated in the west.
Twice it was Polish arms that defeated invading hordes, the Ottoman Turks
besieging Vienna in the 17th century, and the million strong Red Army in 1919.
Both of whom, if unchecked then, would have swept on into Europe with frightful
consequences and changed the face of European history. In 1940, it was those
Polish Air Force pilots escaped from their occupied country, along with others,
who made the vital difference in the Battle of Britain, when trained RAF pilots
were being killed faster than they could be replaced. To have lost the air
battle would have led to invasion, which Britain was in poor shape to withstand.
With Britain left alone in Europe, if she had gone down then, the European war
would have been over… and lost. Hitler with no western front could then have
turned all of his resources against Russia. The scenarios are appalling.
Maybe the Pope was the last great man to hold that office, not from a religious
point of view, on which we are not qualified to comment, but as a world leader.
Certainly his countrymen and all of us can mark the passing of such a man. But
whatever else, it is unlikely in a world progressively becoming more secular,
that those who succeed him will reach quite the levels of achievement and
admiration that this one has done.
Delphi eyes bigger Krakow plant
US car parts and components manufacturer Delphi is considering expanding its
technical centre in Krakow, the Warsaw Business Journal reported.
The group found that as a location for their plant, Krakow would be the most
suitable place. Marek Adamiak, the director of Delphi in Poland, stated:
"We are pushing the company's headquarters to allow us to construct the
second stage of the centre. The company will be very thankful if they get that
location. They could employ another 500 people and their centre would become one
of the largest in the world. The decision is to be made by mid-year."
Poland making Toyota engines
Toyota Motor Corp started the production of new diesel engines in the south
western Polish city of Jelcz-Laskowice, New Europe reported recently.
The group started manufacturing 2,200cc diesel engines in the European Union
member state. The engines made by the firm will be used on the Avensis model
manufactured by Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK Ltd. The joint venture also plans
to supply its engines for the Corolla model made in Europe.
New car sales drop in Poland
Sales of new cars in Poland plummeted 23.7 per cent in January 2005 compared to
January 2004, according to a report published recently, Deutsche Presse-Agentur
There was also a 5.6per cent decrease in new passenger car sales between
Decemebr 2004 and January 2005, the Warsaw-based car market analysts Samar said.
Toyota and Skoda lead the market, followed by Fiat, Renault, Ford, Peugeot, Opel,
Volkswagen, Citroen and Chevrolet. Eased import restrictions and border duties
which came into effect on used vehicles when Poland joined the European Union in
May 2004 have resulted in an avalanche of used car imports from Western Europe,
particularly Germany, hitting the new car market.
Polish, Ukrainian presidents discuss joint oil pipeline project
The implementation of the Odessa-Brody-Gdansk pipeline project requires joint
actions, Ukrainian President, Viktor Yushchenko, said. He gave assurances that
there were no problems with oil or financial reserves, PAP News Agency reported.
President Aleksander Kwasniewski, noted that Poland was interested in the
implementation of the pipeline project. He expressed the hope that the talks
between the Ukrainian side and Prime Minister, Marek Belka, would bring about a
"working action plan" in this matter. "We got Yushchenko's answer
that there are oil reserves," Kwasniewski said.
Yushchenko, in turn, said that the issue of the pipeline project had been
politicised too much, and this, in his view, should be changed. "We want to
achieve the logic of joint actions," he noted.
FOOD & DRINK
Polish food exports to western Europe soar
When Poland joined the European Union last year its food exports to western
Europe rose to great heights, Business Week reported recently.
Between May and December last year, the value of Polish food exports to the 15
nations that formed the EU before its eastward expansion was up by 51.3% from
the same period in 2003, preliminary data from the Polish Agriculture Ministry
Ahead of EU entry, nationalist politicians raised fears that the produce of more
efficient western and subsidised European farmers would flood Poland. Ministry
official Waldemar Guba said that because of the low price, Polish food export
business is in demand and flourishing in western Europe. There also are not many
Not only are the consumers from western European very confident about the
quality of products from the new member countries, the new member countries
conform to strict EU standards so confidence has developed.
Last year milk and cream exports to the 15 existing EU nations increased by
nearly 350% in the May-December period. The agriculture ministry said that
exports of butter were up by 310% and those of beef rose by 250%.
Poland, whose own farmers now benefit from EU subsidies, has been looking to
expand exports beyond its traditional partners like Germany, the Netherlands and
Italy. In 2004 Portugal recorded a five-fold increase in food exports. The
country is looking further to other new EU members such as Hungary, which bought
60% more Polish food in the year.
Sweden's Electrolux invests in Poland
Swedish home appliance maker Electrolux will invest more than 30m Euro in two
new factories in south- western Poland, promising 850 new jobs, the Polish PAP
News Agency reported.
A washing machine factory is slated for Olawa, near Wloclaw, inside the
Walbrzych Special Investment Zone where investors enjoy special tax reliefs.
Construction is expected to begin this spring. A dishwasher plant is slated for
construction in Zarow in another area of the investment zone. Electrolux owns
such brands as AEG, Zanussi and Husqvarna, employs some 87,000 workers in 23
factories across Europe with sales worth some 15bn Euro per year.
Adamed clinches US foothold
Polish pharmaceutical company Adamed, the leading drugmaker in the country, has
opened a subsidiary in the United States, the Warsaw Business Journal reported.
It plans to introduce a product for treating illnesses of the urinary system in
the United States. This is the first Polish device registered with the US Food
and Drug Administration (FDA).
DT launches talks with Elektrim
Deutsche Telekom has expressed its interest to pay more to mobile phone operator
PTC for more shares in the Poland-based group Elektrim, the Warsaw Business
Although DT holds shares in the Polish group, it would like to purchase another
48% block of shares giving it a total of 99%. Elektrim shares soared by more
than 10% following the German telco's announcement. The electronic industry is a
developing field and investment in this will obviously increase the country's
economy, analysts said, adding that a fair price for the stake could be as high
as 1.5bn Euro. The discussions are on between the management of Elektrim and a
senior representative of Deutsche Telekom but details of the deal are still