Books on Poland
Update No: 115 - (21/12/06)
Poland is going through difficult times, which is fuelling
populism. Hence the joint reign of the Kaczynski twins as president and premier.
But their bark is worse than their bite. They are not jettisoning Poland's past
reforms, continuing, for example, on the path to the Eurozone set out by their
Poland to hold referendum on euro
Poland has set out an agenda for adoption of the euro, a highly controversial
issue there. The Polish government has stated its intention to hold a Eurozone
referendum in 2010. At the same time, the government has rejected criticism over
its budget deficit.
Finance Minister Zyta Gilowska said that Poland intends to meet the euro
criteria by 2009 and hold a referendum in 2010. She was confident that President
Lech Kaczynski would convince Poles to opt for the common currency the same year
as Poland holds presidential elections.
With its accession in 2004, Poland agreed to adopt the euro as soon as possible,
provided that it fulfils the convergence criteria for joining. On 10 November
2006, Gilowska rejected the Commission's criticism of Poland for not keeping its
budget deficit in line with the convergence criteria. She expects budget deficit
to be at 3.5% of GDP in 2007, only 0.5% higher than set out by the stability
pact rules, whereas the Commission expects deficit to reach 4% of GDP.
Gilowska said: "We are having difficulties convincing the EU that our
finances are much better than expected. It's hard for me to understand why the
good news is not being acknowledged."
Polish prime minister urges parliament to affirm Poles' rights to property
left by expelled Germans
The populism comes out all the same in the stout defence of Polish interests
inside the EU. Poles well recall the brutal treatment meted out to them in the
Second World War by the Germans, who slaughtered two million of them in the
first initial invasion in and after September 1939. They seized their property
and crushed rebellion mercilessly. A folk hatred of Germany lies deep in the
polish psyche, which the Kaczynski twins tap into.
Poland's prime minister, for instance, said December 19th that he would urge
parliament to reaffirm Poles' rights to property left by Germans expelled from
Poland after World War II, in an angry reaction to compensation claims from a
small German group. The claims stem from the territorial rearrangements reached
after the war by the victorious Allies - the United States, Britain and the
Soviet Union - at the 1945 Potsdam conference. Poland had no say in those.
The agreement gave large parts of eastern Germany to Poland, and the Germans
living there were forced to leave. Meanwhile, large parts of eastern Poland went
to the Soviet Union, displacing many Poles.
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said parliament should declare that Warsaw
would not respect any court verdict that calls Poles' rights into question.
Kaczynski's comments came after the Prussian Claims Society, which represents a
small group of expelled Germans, filed suits with the European Court of Human
Rights accusing Poland of violating the rights of those driven from their
pre-war homes when borders were redrawn in 1945. The suit seeks restitution for
The German government opposes the claims, which it describes as
"baseless," and hopes to avoid further strains
In a broadcast, Kaczynski said "the issue is truly a serious one. We must
have a law on the primary character of ownership, and there must be a clear
declaration made that Poland will not respect verdicts that would question
Polish law in this respect," Kaczynski said.
On December 18th, a small Polish group urged Kaczynski to renegotiate a 1991
Polish-German treaty to include a statement that all claims by Germans toward
Poland should be directed to the German government. Kaczynski said that was
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a news conference in Helsinki that
"no German government, and certainly not this government" would ever
support the society's claims. "We have explained this time and again to our
partners in Poland." She added that "I don't see any need for
renegotiating existing treaties."
In 2004, a joint Polish-German commission ruled that there was no legal
foundation for claims by Germans to property in today's Poland.
The Poles have no love lost for the Russians either, but they are at least
Slavs. The people they really like are the Americans, which is why they are
staying the course in Iraq.
Iraqi, Polish PMs meet on issues concerning bilateral interests
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski arrived in the Iraqi capital on December
20th starting an official visit during which he would hold talks with senior
officials on conditions in the country.
An official source said the Polish premier, accompanied by a delegation of
officials, would hold talks with his Iraqi counterpart, Nouri Al-Maliki, on
security and political conditions in Iraq.
The Polish Government has asked the Polish president to approve extending the
mandate of the 900-strong Polish force in Iraq till end of 2007.
The following exemplifies another type of populism of the government:-
My talent for Poland was the motto of a meeting between President Lech
Kaczynski and young internationally successful Poles.
Report by Michal Kubicki
19 year-old Michal Filipczuk is a first-year student at Warsaw University. His
interest in maths and computers started in primary school. Over the past two
years he won the gold medal at the International Mathematics Olympiad and the
silver medal at the International Informatics Olympiad. These successes were
extremely important at the threshold of his scientific career.
'Being trained by the best people in Poland to achieve such successes as medals
at international olympiads made my skills much better.'
Many foreign observers of the Polish scene note that highly-skilled graduates
and specialists in many fields is one of the main assets of present-day Poland.
According to Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, the minister of state in the Presidential
Chancellary responsible for social affairs, it is extremely important to give
up-and-coming researchers, scientists and artists, possibilities to develop
'We have so many talented kids and students and we know nothing about them but
we are all responsible for their talents to be developed. That's why the Polish
president invited a group of eighty people, including the 10 year-old pianist,
winners of gold medals at international olympiads in high-tech, chemistry and
mathematics, young doctors and movie directors. They are all here in Poland. The
question is do we offer them enough possibilities to develop their talents, not
only for Poland but for the whole world.'
The motto of the meeting at the Presidential Palace - My talent for Poland - is
very topical at a time when tens of thousands of young people, including very
bright university graduates, leave Poland to seek better study and career
opportunities abroad. Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka describes this as a big challenge for
'It's very good if young, talented people are offered scholarships at the best
universities such as Stanford, Yale, Princeton and Harvard, for this serves the
development of their talent. We'd like them to return to Poland, to work here,
to work with others so that they can also develop their talents here but of
course we are aware that some academic centres abroad are better than here. It
is our concern to give them opportunities to return to Poland and work at the
same level that is offered to them abroad.'
Michal Filipczuk is among those who are determined, in the long-run, to pursue a
career in Poland.
'I plan to go abroad to work during the holidays or for a year and then come
back and be here because this is my home.'
The President congratulated Michal Filipczuk and the other invited guests on
their successes. He also gave them much-needed words of encouragement and
assurance that their efforts will be appreciated in their homeland.
GM to build Aveo in Poland
General Motors plans to start production of its small Chevrolet Aveo saloon in
the European Union, using an under-utilised assembly plant in Warsaw, New Europe
The move is partly designed to capitalise on growing markets in eastern and
western Europe but also reflects capacity constraints at the Aveo plant in South
Korea, owned by GM Daewoo, a joint venture between the Detroit-based carmaker,
Suzuki of Japan and China's SAIC.
The Korean venture, one of GM's success stories, exports vehicles around the
world, including North and South America. GM Daewoo also builds Aveos in China.
The Warsaw plant, which dates back to the 1950s, is owned and operated by
UkrAvto of Ukraine, which also assembles and distributes Chevrolets in Ukraine.
The plant builds cars for export to Russia and Ukraine. Aveo output is scheduled
to start towards the end of this year, with production reaching 60,000 units in
2008, rising eventually to 150,000 a year, which would bring the plant to full
capacity. GM said European production would shorten the time between ordering
and delivering an Aveo by at least a month.
The Detroit-based car-maker is seeking to build Chevrolet as a global brand. The
Aveo, also known as the Kalos, is the best-selling Chevrolet model in Europe,
with registrations totalling 78,500 in the first nine months of this year.
"We need more Chevys to meet European demand," said Wayne Brannon,
executive director of Chevrolet Europe. "It just makes sense to build where
LOT could float on Warsaw exchange in late 2007
LOT, Poland's state-controlled flagship airline, could float shares on the
Warsaw Stock Exchange in the third or fourth quarter of 2007, Polish Deputy
Treasury Minister, Ireneusz Dabrowski, revealed on December 4th, New Europe
Dabrowski stipulated the Polish Treasury, which currently controls a 68 per cent
stake in the airline, intended to maintain a controlling 51 per cent of its
shares. LOT's budget carrier Centralwings could also either be floated on the
exchange or sold off. Despite rapid growth in Poland's air transport sector,
both Centralwings and parent LOT are experiencing financial difficulties. Sector
analysts suggest LOT could profit from taking a larger slice of the booming
charter flight sector.
Kaczmarek woos Chinese investors, offers incentives
Poland is now set to woo investments from the south Asian economic powerhouse,
China, and is offering Chinese investors to the eastern European nation's
comparatively low labour costs and its proximity to huge Western consumer
markets. Companies that invest in Poland will enjoy corporate tax reductions,
subsidies in employee training and government support in land purchases, Andrzej
Kaczmarek, an undersecretary in Poland's economic ministry, told an economic
forum in Shanghai on November 17th, New Europe reported.
Polsat TV to float stock after Axel-Springer sale
The owner of Poland's Polsat Commercial TV station announced plans on December
4th to float 15-20 per cent of its stock after the German media titan Axel
Springer inked a deal to buy a 25.1 per cent stake in the station, the Polish
PAP news agency reported. "A deal for 25.1 per cent was signed,"
Polsat owner Zygmunt Solorz-Zak told the PAP, New Europe reported.
"We decided to sell despite the fact that this is not the highest price,
but only minority stock holder rights which result from the 25.1 per cent share
are guaranteed. Axel does not have a guarantee for the purchase of additional
shares," Solorz-Zak said.
The deal is subject to approval of Poland's anti-monopoly authority, news
reports said. Axel Springer has also specified it will proceed with due
diligence prior to the final financial transaction.
Springer has already captured a large slice of Poland's print media market,
publishing the top-selling Fakt tabloid, the Dziennik mid-market dailes, as well
as the Newsweek Polska weekly news magazine, the Forbes financial monthly and
several women's and teen magazines. Polsat, along with TVN are Poland's leading
commercial TV stations. Public broadcaster TVP also maintains a strong market