Books on Poland
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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."
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.