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POLAND


 

 

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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 209,563 187,670 176,300 24
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 5,270 4,570 4,230 71
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 118 - (29/03/07)

Merkel comes to town
German Chancellor Angela Merkel gets on with the Polish leaders much better than her predecessors, Schroeder and Kohl, who could not abide them and preferred good relations with Moscow. She has an emollient manner and an engaging bonhomie.

Merkel on March 17th completed a visit to Poland on a positive note. Her talks with President Lech Kaczynski had focused on the Berlin Declaration due to mark the European Union's 50th anniversary on March 25th and the contentious European constitution, a spokesman for the President's Office said. 

Germany currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union and has made jump-starting the stalled EU constitutional treaty a top priority. 

On her trip, Merkel wanted to find out how far Poland was prepared to make concessions on the constitution. She has said she intends to keep the substance of the treaty intact. The constitution was rejected in referenda in France and the Netherlands. 

The Polish government had recently signalled its negative attitude towards a strengthening of European institutions. Merkel intends to lay out a timetable for a new EU constitutional foundation before the end of her presidency in June. However, this would also lay down the character of the constitution. 

Regarding plans to deploy part of a US missile defence system in Poland, Merkel made clear that the issue should not divide Europe, German government circles said. The German delegation had felt that Poland was prepared to continue talks in a NATO context. 

The talks between the German chancellor and the Polish president were held privately at Kaczynski's holiday home in the fishing town of Jurata on the Hela peninsula on the Baltic. Merkel and her husband Joachim Sauer went for a beach walk to the lighthouse with their Polish hosts. 

Observers in Germany and Poland expect a relaxation of German- Polish relations from the informal character of the trip after some controversy over historical issues and the construction of a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea. 

On Friday, Merkel had pleaded for a European constitution and a EU capable of action in a speech before students of Warsaw University. 

At the same time, she emphasized the significance of good relations with neighbouring Poland and acknowledged German responsibility for the suffering of millions of Poles under Nazi occupation during World War Two. 

First reactions to Merkel's Warsaw speech, in which the chancellor had clearly rejected the compensation claims of German refugees, were positive. 

Vice president of the Polish parliament Bronislaw Komorowski of the liberal opposition described Merkel's words as a signal that Germany was interested in improving German-Polish relations. 

Other politicians of both the conservative ruling Law and Justice party and the opposition said they were optimistic during a radio discussion on the last day that Merkel's visit had set a positive tone. 

Polish People Prefer Communist Poland To That Of Today
Polish people are more proud of Poland under the communists than they are of Poland under the Kaczynski Government of the Fourth Republic - according to a poll just run by a popular Polish newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza. 

People were asked about four periods in Poland's history. They responded that they are most proud of the Second Republic of Poland. Their second preference was for the Third Republic of Poland, whose leaders the current government is actively trying to replace and discredit. Communist Poland was third. And the people are least proud of the Fourth Republic of Poland. 

The people who are most proud of Communist Poland are people with lower levels of education and who live in the countryside. 56% of them are over 60. 26% are in the 29 to 39 age bracket. 53% of the people who are proud of the fourth republic were members of Law and Justice Party. 

The largest number of people who are most proud of Communist Poland are people who are staunch supporters of the current government and the Fourth Republic Poland. So it appears that the people hate the communists, but they like what the communists did. It might be said that they like communism. 

In the cities, 62 per cent of the people are proud of the Third Republic. They are not proud of the Kaczynski Fourth Republic. 

The poll results reflect interestingly on the history of communism. Lenin expected that communism would take hold among the educated in the cities and then spread to the countryside. He was surprised that it was the other way around. Now it appears that it is also the countryside that will hold onto communism longer than the cities. 

In any case, the poll tends to support the premise that you can take the Communists out of the government, but you cannot take communism out of the people. 

Poland bans mentioning homosexuality in schools
One of the reasons for the government's unpopularity is its deep intolerance of minorities. In its continued attack on gay rights, the Polish government is to ban discussions on homosexuality in schools, with teachers facing the sack, fines or imprisonment for doing so. Doubtless however, there is a lot of homophobia in Catholic Poland. 

Poland's Education Minister, Roman Giertych, said the aim of the proposed law would be to "prohibit the promotion of homosexuality and other deviance. One must limit homosexual propaganda so that children won't have an improper view of the family."

Giertych said he hopes to introduce a similar ban across the entire European Union.

Human rights groups have warned that the law would promote discrimination against gays and was in danger of curbing the amount of information children are given about HIV/AIDS.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the proposal violated freedom of speech.

"Polish authorities claim to be protecting families, but in fact they are trying to deny children free speech and lifesaving information on HIV/Aids," said Scott Long of HRW. "Schools should be training grounds for tolerance, not bastions of repression and discrimination."

President Lech Kaczynski has given his support to the law, claiming that the future of the human race is dependent on discrediting homosexuality in the classroom.

During a visit here in Ireland last month, he said: "If that kind of approach to sexual life were to be promoted on a grand scale, the human race would disappear."

The government's announcement coincides with the presentation of a study by Poland's Campaign Against Homophobia, which shows a significant rise in anti-gay attitudes in Poland. Its study details eye-witness accounts of people who have been beaten, harassed, raped and humiliated because they are gay. The group said it was alarmed by the proposal particularly in the light of the recent attacks.

"I am embarrassed to hear of such a proposal," said Robert Biedron, the group's head. "Poland is like an island drifting away from the rest of Europe ... don't we already know this kind of language from not so distant history?"

The European Commission has condemned the Polish government, whose motto is "moral renewal," for its homophobic views.

During her visit to Poland, the EU's current president, German chancellor Merkel, delivered a thinly veiled warning to Poland's anti-gay politicians, telling an audience that Europe was a "continent of tolerance ... that understands variety, not as a threat, but as enrichment."

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AUTOMOBILES

Number of cars sold increases 21.6% 

A total of 22,717 new cars were sold in Poland in January, up 21.6 per cent from the corresponding period in 2006 and up 5.4 per cent from December, the Polish car market monitoring company Samar said on February 8, according to website english.people.com.cn. 
This was the best monthly result in 18 months, it was reported. Samar's experts attributed the brisk sale to successful promotion activities, and a wide range of loans and discounts. Toyota was the best selling car in January with 3,170 cars sold, up nearly 25 per cent from January 2006. 

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BANKING

DNB Nord mulls mergers and acquisitions

Following the successful merger with BISE, DNB Nord's appetite has increased notably and is now looking to climb to the position of the 15th biggest Polish bank through acquisitions of investment funds corporations and financial services firms, a report in the online version of the Polish daily Puls Biznesu revealed on March 13th.
In May, the merger of DNB Nord and BISE is scheduled to take effect. After the Banking Supervision Commission approved the transaction, the banks await green light from the competition authorities. "We want to conclude the merger this year. If it happened today, a bank with 4.8 billion zlotys (1.2 billion Euro) of assets, 425 million zlotys of its own funds employing 900 people would be created," Jaroslaw Dabrowski, DNB Nord CEO, was quoted as saying. Such a bank would not be one of Poland's 20 biggest banks, which is the target of the merger. DNB Nord wants to become one of Poland's 15 biggest banks. That's why further acquisitions would be considered.

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ENERGY

Poland sees Odessa-Brody-Plock as strategic project 

Poland plans to host an "energy summit" in May bringing together presidents of several states keen to bring Caspian crude oil to Poland and further west via Ukraine and Georgia, Polish President, Lech Kaczynski, confirmed on March 7th. 
"This is a great strategic venture," Kaczynski said following talks with visiting Ukrainian President, Viktor Yushchenko, in Plock, central Poland. He indicated leaders of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakstan and Ukraine would be invited. 
Deutsche-Presse-Agentur (dpa) quoted Kaczynski as saying he was "very optimistic" about plans to complete the Odessa-Brody-Plock oil pipeline to bring Caspian crude oil to Poland.
The project is designed to boost energy security by promoting diversification of supply and easing heavy reliance on Russia. 
Estimated costs of the Plock-Brody leg of the planned pipeline linking Poland and Ukraine run at 500 million Euro. 
Plans also call for it to be extended from Plock to the Polish Baltic Sea port city of Gdansk from where fuel could be shipped to Germany and to other EU states further west. 
Polish companies, however, still must secure access to oil supplies in Kazakstan and Azerbaijan. President Kaczynski is expected to visit the oil-rich central Asian republic of Kazakstan later this month. "We confirm the practical realisation of this project, we see the logic of political contacts in this area," Ukraine's Yushchenko told reporters. 
He also stressed the planned pipeline linking Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odessa with Poland would boost Ukraine's strategic importance in Europe and serve to strengthen his country's ties with the European Union. 
The headquarters of Poland's fuel giant PKN Orlen are located in Plock. The minority state-owned Polish crude oil refiner and fuels distributor is the largest of its kind in Central-Europe, with subsidiaries in the Czech Republic, Germany and Lithuania.

PGNiG acquires stake in Norwegian Sea gas fields

Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo SA (PGNiG), Poland's oil and natural gas monopoly, recently inked a 270 million Euro contract to buy a 15 per cent stake in Norwegian Sea gas fields from ExxonMobil, a statement from the company revealed recently, New Europe reported. The company also unveiled plans of investing 450 million Euro in developing the fields that are estimated to hold 35.8 billion cubic metres of gas. The statement added that production of natural gas and crude oil is expected to start in mid-2011.
The project is operated by British Petroleum, while partners include Statoil ASA, Royal Dutch Shell and Norsk Hydro. Poland's government is pushing to diversify its supplies and wean itself off its dependence on Russian energy supplies. Around 60 per cent of Polish gas consumption comes from Russian resources. The Polish premier, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, welcomed the move terming it as "a breakthrough in an extremely important issue" for his country. 

Poland, Lithuania agree on new Ignalina facility 

The prime ministers of Poland and Lithuania on March 2nd signed a joint statement of political intent to co-operate on building a new nuclear power facility at Lithuania's Ignalina nuclear power facility, Polish Radio reported. 
Polish Prime Minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and visiting Lithuanian Premier, Gediminas Kirkilas, termed the move in Warsaw an "important step" in the construction of a new reactor with the participation of European Union members Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. 
The three latter Baltic states agreed to cooperate on the expansion of Ignalina last year. 
As part of the project, Poland has agreed to hook-up its electrical power grid with that of Lithuania, thus allowing greater energy co-operation between EU states. 
Lithuania has promised to close down Soviet-built reactors at the Ignalina facility by the end of this decade while initial plans call for the first new nuclear power facility to be constructed within the next decade.

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MANUFACTURING

Proctor and Gamble's production to arrive

Cosmetics manufacturer Proctor and Gamble recently announced plans to pull the manufacture of skincare products out of Ireland and move it to a new plant in Poland, themanufacturer.com website reported. 
Proctor and Gamble has been operating from Nenagh since 1985, manufacturing Max Factor and Cover Girl makeup ranges, Oil of Olay skin products, and perfumes for the Hugo Boss and Laura Biagiotti brands. Following a year long review of the company's operations across Europe, however, the company recently unveiled the details of a cost cutting plan which means that manufacture of the Oil of Olay skin products would be transferred to a new plant planned for Lodz in Poland, the website reported. 

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