Books on Poland
% of GDP
Update No: 106 - (23/03/06)
No escape from geography or history
It was Stalin himself who said that 'communism fits Poland like a saddle does a
cow.' He, nevertheless, imposed it on the Poles for ulterior geopolitical
reasons, to prevent another invader taking the classic invasion route of
Teutonic knights, Prussian conquerors, Napoleon and Hitler across the Polish
plains, skirting the massive Carpathians.
Saddles are used by horsemen to mount their steeds. It is well known that the
Polish Army in the fateful year of 1939 had an unusual dependency on cavalry.
The country was overrun in no time, paying the price for its old-fashioned
approach. Poles in exile, however, played a valiant role in Allied uniforms in
the Battle of Britain, the Italian campaign (there were two Polish divisions at
the Battle of Monte Cassino) and on the Normandy beaches.
Its vulnerable geography and chequered history have left the Poles fiercely pro-Western(Poland
has the third largest contingent of troops in Iraq), yet is stoically
anti-German and anti-Russian. Nothing but harm used to be expected from their
giant neighbours to the west and east. Now it is mischief, like a gas pipeline
from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea by-passing Poland, the brainchild of
Gazprom and Ruhrgas and fervently supported by Putin and Shroeder (who now heads
the Gazprom subsidiary building it).
Poland has twin leaders, who are pushing a nationalist agenda, as if in
remembrance of the dire three partitions of Poland in the eighteenth century and
the murderous fourth partition after the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August, 1939 that
set off the Second World War. The president and his brother say they need to
build a strong state. Rights groups say the pair's right-wing policies threaten
The Poles look to the right
They were precocious childhood actors who once plotted to steal the moon,
but these days the silver-haired Kaczynski twins have a new goal: leading Poland
to the right.
President Lech Kaczynski and his identical twin, Jaroslaw, leader of the
dominant Law and Justice Party and the real power behind the presidency in many
commentators' eyes, believe Poland has been weakened by years of liberalism and
corruption. They're stoking patriotism and forming alliances with
ultraconservative parties to eradicate vestiges of 40 years of communism. The
brothers, who oppose gay rights and have chastised a media they view as
instigating moral decay, want an education system that emphasizes all things
Polish. They also want a new anti-corruption agency to root out communist
holdovers. Their policies are reminiscent of those of pre-war dictator General
Back to the future?
Human rights groups for years have been concerned by the Kaczynskis'
politics, which run counter to the more liberal and secular leanings of the
European Union, that Poland joined in 2004. In a report in February, Human
Rights Watch, a New York-based group, said an "official homophobia"
existed in Poland.
Robert Biedron, president of Poland's Campaign Against Homophobia, characterized
the Kaczynski brothers' position as "medieval conservative."
"It's actually more clerical than conservative," he said. "It's
very much what the Catholic Church says. They're trying to build a Polish
nationalist country and bring these values to the European Union."
Many in this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nation do not think of the brothers,
who were prominent Solidarity revolutionaries in the 1980s, as nationalists.
Supporters consider them conservatives whose policies are what a proud yet
insecure Poland needs to emerge as a strong political voice between Western
Europe and the former Soviet states. Much of the Kaczynskis' agenda centres on
the political equivalent of tarring and feathering former communists.
After Lech Kaczynski took office in December, the government announced that it
would recall 10 Polish ambassadors who had connections with the communist regime
that collapsed more than 16 years ago. The government wants to investigate
former communist politicians and businessmen linked to scandals involving oil
and Russian spies and questionable post-Soviet deals. Some of these officials
belong to leftist and social democratic parties that have only recently left
"We name streets with the names of heroes, not traitors. So we now have to
decide who are the heroes and who are the traitors," said Bronislaw
Wildstein, a writer and supporter of Law and Justice. "The Kaczynski
government wants deep reforms to the laws and to speak openly about the set of
values that exists for much of Poland."
The Kaczynski brothers, who were born in 1949, came to public attention in 1960s
as mischievous boys in the allegorical film "The Two Who Stole the
Moon." In the 1970s, they joined the anti-communist underground and later
Lech Walesa's Solidarity movement. The brothers are not charismatic speakers,
but their steely disdain for the communist era and populist sound bites have won
over much of the country.
"I would like to clean the state," Jaroslaw Kaczynski said in a recent
interview with the daily Gazeta Wyborcza. He said former communists and their
business partners still controlled "a large portion of our national
Civil libertarians have complained that the proposed anti-corruption agency
could be used by the government to wiretap and monitor political dissidents.
Other Poles are more concerned over what they view as the brothers' moral
fervour and their choice of political allies.
Law and Justice won the most votes in the last election, but not a clear
majority. Differences with the nation's second- largest party, the pro-business
Civil Platform, forced Law and Justice to seek other coalition partners. They
include the ultra-right Polish Families League, the populist Self-Defence Party
and the Polish Peasant Party.
Law and Justice leaders acknowledge that they are uneasy with these ties but say
they had no other choices to form a government. They fear that such parties lend
a radical taint to the government and bolster complaints that the Kaczynskis are
less concerned about fixing the economy and its 18% unemployment rate.
The twins have tried to navigate between mainstream and conservative causes
while seeking to soften the stances of their coalition partners.
For example, during the last campaign Law and Justice candidates appeared on a
popular Catholic programme on Radio Maria whose ultra-right views are often not
supported by the church. This boosted Law and Justice in rural areas even as the
Kaczynskis distanced themselves from Radio Maria's politics. But the brothers
believe a creeping liberalism is harming the country.
"Will our civilization be able to renew itself if there will continue to be
this incredibly intensive promotion of evil and moral decay?" said Jaroslaw
Kaczynski, referring to the media in a recent magazine interview.
As Warsaw mayor last year, Lech Kaczynski cited traffic restrictions to ban a
gay rights march. The rally took place anyway, and the courts later ruled that
such bans are illegal. Law and Justice-backed Prime Minister, Kazimierz
Marcinkiewicz, was quoted last year as saying that homosexuality is
"unnatural - the family is natural, and the state must stand guard over the
Rights groups are also concerned that the president may advance his agenda this
year, when he is expected to appoint six judges to the country's 15-member
A more conservative court will make it less likely that Poland's strict abortion
law will be overturned. In February, a Polish woman with severe myopia went to
the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, arguing that the law
forced her to have a child despite findings by three doctors that giving birth
would increase her chances of going blind. Her suit says that her eyesight has
worsened since the birth in 2000 and that she is "significantly
disabled." The Catholic Church pushed for the tougher abortion law after
the fall of communism.
The Kaczynskis are "playing on fears," said Adam Bodnar, legal
coordinator with the Helsinki Human Rights Foundation in Warsaw. "These
days Poles feel there is a need for a good sheriff…. The president has called
for a moral censorship. This is like winking to the electorate that we'll
protect you from gays and all the ills that prey on our good Catholic Polish
Such characterizations are exaggerated, said Law and Justice's Ryszard Legutko,
who is deputy speaker of the Senate. He said that the government was reflecting
the will of the country and that proposed reforms were overdue. Although the
proposed Institute of National Education has been criticized as an attempt to
instil nationalism through schools, Legutko said it was an opportunity to better
teach students about their nation's often turbulent history.
"Poles always believed that we were so traditional, so in love with our
history that we were unable to keep up with modern technological issues,"
Legutko said. "The Poles being in love with the past is a myth. Polish kids
today can't even tell you about martial law" during communist rule.
FOOD & DRINK
Poland ranks top of best places to produce milk
Poland ranked as one of the best places to produce milk in the International
Farm Comparison Network's 2005 analysis. The worldwide association of
agricultural scientists, advisers and farmers rated a 50-cow herd in Poland as
one of the most competitive situations for milk production in 2005, New Europe
IFCN compared 102 dairy farming situations in 33 countries. Milk prices across
the world ranged from 0.11 Euro to 0.49 Euro per litre of milk. Milk prices were
highest in Switzerland, Norway and Canada. Farmers in Pakistan, Argentina and
Ukraine received the lowest prices. The "world market price for milk"
worked out at 16.6 cents per litre, significantly under prices in the EU and US.
IFCN analysts found that the milk-feed price ratio, which explains how much
concentrate can be bought by selling a litre of milk, was very favourable in the
US, at 2.8, which makes intensive or high milk yield farming systems profitable.
In India, New Zealand and Switzerland, this price ratio was recorded as very
unfavourable (from 1 to 1.5, making high input systems unviable). The IFCN
report contained the statistic that one person in every 10 on the planet lives
on a dairy farm. There are an estimated 100 million dairy farms worldwide, and
more than 500 million people were found to be involved in milk production.
US, Poland sign technical cooperation agreements
Poland and the United States signed agreements before last on science and
technology cooperation and a military pilot training program. The signing took
place at Blair House during the second day of President, Lech Kaczynski's,
visit. He met with President, George W. Bush, Secretary of State, Condoleezza
Rice, and US lawmakers. Joining Polish Foreign Minister, Stefan Meller, at the
signing ceremony was Undersecretary of State, Paula Dobriansky. According to a
statement from the state department, the 10-year Science and Technology
Cooperation Agreement was framed on an earlier agreement between the two
countries aimed at facilitating broad bilateral cooperation in the two fields,
New Europe reported.
"It removes obstacles that would prevent scientific collaboration and
encourage joint research, conferences and the exchange of people and
ideas," the statement read. The current and potential areas of cooperation
highlighted in the statement include cancer research, emerging and infectious
disease research, joint research training programs, nanotechnology,
biotechnology and environmental sciences. Previous scientific collaboration
between US and Polish experts resulted in "numerous achievements," the
department noted. "For example, cooperation between Polish and US experts
improved air and water quality in the ancient Polish capital of Krakow."
Atempo expands in Poland
Atempo, a big name in the field of ILM providers, recently announced it had
inked a major reseller agreement with Softex Data, a well-known Polish IT
integrator, as part of the company's east European expansion strategy. According
to Gartner Dataquest, Eastern Europe represents a US$250 million market in 2006
for storage management software, New Europe reported.
"We are excited to enter into this reseller agreement with Atempo for the
Polish data protection market," said Jacek Polowniak, commercial director
at Softex Data. "By partnering with Atempo our customers gain access to a
best-in-class data protection product, Time Navigator, delivering high
performance data protection and storage security for heterogeneous IT
environments." "Atempo's expanded presence in Eastern Europe gives us
coverage in a growing and strategically important region. The data protection
market in Eastern Europe is largely new deployments, and our experience is that
when users are not bound-in by legacy data protection infrastructure, they
choose Atempo," said Bas Broekarts, vice president, EMEA sales for Atempo.
"In Eastern Europe and beyond, Atempo is committed to partnering with
leading channel partners to fuel our continued growth."
Atempo is a well-known name in trusted information lifecycle management (ILM).
Atempo's solution enables corporations to protect all their digital assets and
secure those assets against tampering and theft over their information
lifecycle. Founded in 1992, Atempo has more than 2500 customers worldwide, with
a sales and support network exceeding 100 resellers. The company's dual
headquarters are in Palo Alto, California and Paris.
MINERALS & METALS
Mittal Steel to expand production in Poland
Global steel giant Mittal Steel was mulling plans to invest US$450 million in
2006 to increase the production capacities of its plants in Poland, the Indian
daily Hindustan Times reported on its website.
The investment would allow the company to meet the constantly rising demand from
car manufacturers. Many West European car companies have set up their plants in
Poland because of easy availability of cheap technical labour.
Polkomtel 2005 net profit increases 16%
Mobile telephone operator Polkomtel increased its full-year net profit by 16 per
cent in 2005 to 1.07 billion zlotys, according to figures issued recently in the
consolidated fourth-quarter report of shareholder KGHM Polska Miedz, New Europe
KGHM didn't give comparative full-year figures for Polkomtel's net profit in
2004, but the 16 per cent growth figure came in line with the operator's
previously reported 924 million zlotys net profit in 2004. Polkomtel's full-year
revenue totalled 6.5 billion zlotys, up 13 per cent from the previous year. That
placed Polkomtel second among Poland's three mobile operators in terms of sales,
just behind market-leading Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa, which reported 2005 sales
of 6.72 billion zlotys, but ahead of Telekomunikacja Polska SA unit Centertel,
with 6.42 billion zlotys.