Books on Poland
Update No: 119 - (30/04/07)
The new Polish government is firmly pro-US, even though
country after country in Europe is turning against it. Poland will keep its
forces in Iraq for now, the third largest contingent there, despite a third
Polish soldier dying in April.
The clincher is the missile shield that Washington wants to station in Poland,
that is causing a serious rupture with Moscow naturally, who, for all the
protestations to the contrary, regard it as directed against them.
Bush in Warsaw in June
The President of the United States will visit the Czech Republic in June, 4-5th
and Poland June 8th for negotiations on Washington's missile shield plans, the
local media have said.
George Bush will travel to these Central European nations to discuss deployment
of a radar facility in the Czech Republic and a missile base in Poland as part
of the American missile shield designed to counter possible attacks from Iran
and North Korea.
The Czech government decided on March 28 to start the negotiations with the
United States over the issue. Preparations for Bush's visit were discussed at an
April 20 meeting between Czech Foreign Minister Karl Schwarzenberg and U.S.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington, the Czech news agency CTK
At the meeting, Rice told Schwarzenberg that the U.S. was also conducting
bilateral talks over the missile shield with Poland, NATO and Russia.
Bush will fly to Poland after attending a summit of the world's leading
industrial nations, the Group of Eight, in Germany June 6-8. Poland's
Rzeczpospolita newspaper said the American leader would meet with President Lech
Kaczynski in his residence on the Baltic Sea coast to discuss the conditions on
which elements on the U.S. missile defence system could be deployed in Poland.
Moscow has been strongly opposed to the U.S. plans, saying they would threaten
Russia's security and destroy the strategic balance of forces in Europe.
President Vladimir Putin has promised Russia would revise its military strategy.
Following a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels Thursday, NATO
Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer moved to allay Russia's anxiety and said
the placement of the U.S. missile shield would not change the strategic balance
because Washington proposed to deploy only ten missile interceptors.
Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, head of the U.S. Missile Defence Agency, said Tuesday
that Washington was ready to allow Russian experts to inspect the likely missile
site in Poland to show that it posed no threat to Moscow.
U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates will visit Moscow and Warsaw next week, and
Secretary of State Rice will be in Russia in May. Czech President Vaclav Klaus
is expected in Russia April 26-29 at the invitation of President Putin, the
Kremlin press service said on April 20.
New ice age with Russia
An "ice period" is beginning in Poland's relations with Russia, a
senior Polish official said on April 22 after EU and Russian representatives
failed to agree a deal on ending a ban on Polish meat imports.
Russia imposed an embargo on Polish meat in November 2005 claiming that meat
from third countries was being imported under the cover of Polish produce, which
failed to meet health standards.
The issue of lifting the Russian embargo on Polish meat imports topped the
agenda of the talks between EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou and Russian
Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev that started in the Cypriot resort city of
Limassol April 21. A source close to the negotiations confirmed to RIA Novosti
April 22 that the talks yielded no results.
Commenting on the reports about the failed EU-Russia negotiations, Deputy Prime
Minister of Poland Roman Giertych said this was a bad signal.
"This means that Russia firmly stands on its position, which contradicts
the Russia-EU accord. This means that we are already entering a period of
"icy" rather than "cold" bilateral relations," the
At the same time, Polish Vice-Premier and Agriculture Minister Andrzej Lepper
said Russia's refusal to lift the ban was politically motivated.
"It is obvious that this is still a political problem and even more
political than before," he said, meaning Poland's consent to discuss the
U.S. plans to deploy a missile base in the country as part of a missile defence
system in Central Europe, and also energy issues.
Last November, EU newcomer Poland vetoed talks on a new Partnership and
Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between Moscow and Brussels to replace the current
pact, which expires in late 2007, over the Russian ban on meat and other
agricultural imports from Poland. Moscow cited health concerns, but Warsaw said
the move was political.
Relations between Russia and Poland, a former Communist Bloc country that joined
the EU in May 2004, have deteriorated dramatically in the past few years.
A string of recent diplomatic spats has increased mutual distrust between the
two neighbours, prompting many politicians in Warsaw to conclude that the
Kremlin is using the embargo on Polish imports as a political weapon.
The European Commission has said there were no grounds for an embargo on Polish
products, but has admitted that Poland made deviations from European regulations
on meat exports.
The following is an editorial on the subject by Perspective,
Missile shield strategic mistake
The United States' plan to deploy a missile defence system in Europe is
predictably provoking a strong reaction from Russia, particularly because of the
inclusion of the Czech Republic and Poland in the scheme.
Russian leaders have said that the system would destroy the balance of strategic
nuclear power and that they would be forced to respond by also deploying new
missile systems. These reportedly would include offensive weapons which would be
harder to shoot down, or designed to "fool" the US system, as well as
their own defensive systems.
One of Russia's prime concerns is allegedly that if the US has the power to
knock out Russia's missiles it might be more prone to launching a first strike.
The US has repeatedly said that the purpose of the shield is to eliminate any
nuclear warheads which might be aimed at American shores or its North Atlantic
Treaty Organisation (Nato) allies from rogue states, presumably Iran, and not
from Russia (or China).
Talks are ongoing between Nato and Russia to try to allay the Kremlin's fears.
On Wednesday Nato secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer reiterated that the
European system would not affect the strategic balance or threaten Russia.
The Nato chief is probably right in that assessment, at least as the missile
defence system stands at this point. Currently Poland and the Czech Republic are
the only two European nations to have officially signed off on the system, which
calls for 10 interceptor missiles in Poland with an associated radar system
housed in the Czech Republic. The plans to shield the continental US are more
extensive and advanced, but still not sufficient to make much of a dent in
nullifying any large-scale nuclear offensive from Russia, which, like the US,
has thousands of nuclear warheads.
Yet the missile defence system almost surely will in fact destroy the strategic
stability that has helped to prevent a show of arms between the two nuclear
superpowers, regardless of whether it does much to actually diminish Russia's
capabilities. It's not likely that Russian president Vladimir Putin or his
successor will be persuaded to give up plans to counter the missile defence
system, and this goes for the Chinese leadership as well. There is little doubt
that Washington would prepare a similar response if the shoe were on the other
foot. Thus a new arms race is almost inevitable.
In any case, the system has already sealed the fate of nuclear arms reduction
for the foreseeable future. In May 2002, the US and Russia agreed to a major
mutual nuclear arms reduction under the framework of the 1993 Strategic Arms
Limitation (SALT) II agreement, which provided for both countries to reduce
nuclear arsenals by about two-thirds, to around 2,000 warheads each. In June
2002, the US unilaterally withdrew from the 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty
(ABM), signed between the US and the former Soviet Union, so that it could
develop the missile defence system, which the ABM prohibited. Russia then pulled
out of SALT II.
Moreover, there are a number of questions about the capabilities of the system
to actually knock missiles out of the sky. Tests have been few and results less
than mediocre up to now, and it has been proposed that such a system would be
relatively easy to outwit, even by Iran or North Korea. When one weighs the
potential benefits against the negatives, uncertainties and staggering cost of
such a system, it is hard to see why Washington is so intent to go through with
PKN Orlen eyeing neighbours' gas market
Polish fuel monopoly, PKN Orlen, is now eyeing a larger share of the gasoline
distribution market in the neighbouring Baltic States, local reports and
Hemscott said, quoting the company's deputy CEO responsible for sales, Wojciech
Heydel. In Lithuania, Lukoil has 120 petrol stations, and Statoil and Neste have
several dozen filling stations each, while PKN Orlen's Mazeikiu refinery only
has 27 petrol stations, New Europe reported.
"Mazeikiu has 90 per cent of the gross fuel trade and only 1.5 per cent of
the retail market. The market is not saturated, so the network may be
developed," Heydel was quoted as saying. He divulged his company's aim to
secure 15-20 per cent of the fuel pipe with the target date being set at 2012.
"We will intensively study this option," Heydel added. PKN Orlen also
wants to develop in Latvia, where the Scandinavians and Russians already have a
presence, but Mazeikiu does not, Puls Biznesu said. Heydel said PKN Orlen wants
to increase its share of the north German market to 10 per cent from seven per
cent, expanding its petrol station network to 700 from the current 523. Of the
523, 30 more unprofitable stations would be closed, it was reported. In the
Czech Republic, PKN's Unipetrol has a subsidiary, Benzina, which is taking part
in the tender to buy Esso filling stations. It currently has 11.5 per cent of
the Czech market, and is aiming to have 15 per cent. Heydel said if it is
possible to buy petrol stations, it might even expand to 20 per cent.
Mitsui, J-Power to invest US$85m in wind power project
Japan's second largest trading company, Mitsui & Co, and J-Power, also known
as Electric Power Development Co, plan to invest in 10 billion yen (US$85
million) in 48-megawatt wind power project in Poland, BBJ reported.
The two companies would each take a 45 per cent stake in a company set up to
develop the project in northern Poland, the Japanese trader said in statement.
Swiss developer WFL Windfarmer AG would take the remaining 10 per cent stake,
Mitsui said. The three companies would invest a combined two billion yen (US$17
million) in equity, the statement said. The project would start generating power
from February 2008, with full operations scheduled in July 2008, Mitsui said,
adding that the companies would sell all the power generated to Koncern
Energetyczny Energia SA.
FX Energy adds new kutno concession in Poland
FX Energy Inc has announced it has recently acquired a new concession in central
Poland covering 284,000 acres. The area encompasses a Rotliegend mega-structure
with an estimated aerial extent of between 100 and 150 square kilometres (25,000
to 37,000 acres). Depth of the structure is estimated at approximately 6,000
metres (19,200 feet). The amplitude of the structure is interpreted to be at
least 150 metres (480 feet). "We are excited to have been granted this
important high potential, high risk opportunity which builds further upon our
unique position in Poland," said Richard Hardman, director and senior
technical advisor to FX Energy in a statement, New Europe reported.
"The Kutno prospect is a major structure, defined by 2-D seismic, and is
one of a series of very interesting opportunities we have been pursuing in
Poland." In September of 1979 the Polish Oil and Gas Company initiated
drilling of the Kutno structure with a planned depth of 6,100 metres. After
almost four years of drilling and mechanical difficulties with inferior
equipment, the well was abandoned in 1983 at a depth of 5,966 meters
approximately 150 metres from the objective. FX Energy holds a land position of
250,000 acres around its Wilga discovery and over three million acres in western
Poland's Permian Basin. The Permian Basin's gas-bearing Rotliegend sandstone is
a direct analog to the Southern Gas Basin offshore England, and represents a
largely untapped potentially significant gas resource.
FOOD & DRINK
Carrefour to start promoting organic food in Poland
The French supermarket chain, Carrefour Group, will shortly start promoting
organic food in Polish supermarkets by installing dedicated stands, Fresh Plaza
The company has said it would look to educate consumers at first since organic
food is more expensive than traditional. According to the management of
Carrefour Poland, combining all the organic products in one place in the
supermarket would help consumers notice it and the price difference - between
traditional and organic product - would be less visible this way. The market for
organic food in Poland is currently estimated at 50 million Euro. But, according
to specialists, its value should rise to at least 500 million Euro in the next
10 years. At the beginning, Carrefour Poland entered into an agreement with
"Polish Ecology Association," an organisation of about 30 Polish
producers and processors of organic food. According Polish Ecology Association
President Liliana Lehler-Rychel, some of the supermarket networks (like Polish
chains Alma or Peter and Paul) already show interest in organic food,
"because consumers ask for this kind of products more frequently and they
are willing to pay more for it."
Google to open operations centre in Wroclaw
The California-based Internet search company, Google, recently announced plans
to open an operation centre in Wroclaw later this year. The new centre will
create 200 jobs and boost the city's efforts to become a technology hub, BBJ
The company said it would open the "centre of innovation" in Wroclaw
in the coming months and begin hiring workers immediately, according to BBJ.
Officials in Wroclaw, one of Poland's most economically dynamic cities, welcomed
Google's decision. "With Google, we can practically be attractive for any
large company that is in the innovation sector, because they always go in
herds," said Pawel Panczyj, who heads an office that promotes foreign
investment in Wroclaw.
Wroclaw has already attracted a number of foreign investors in recent years,
including Hewlett-Packard Co, General Electric Co, Siemens AG and Nokia Corp, it
was reported. Google said it chose the city for reasons that include "the
availability of highly qualified graduates, the country's economic stability and
strong infrastructure," according to BBJ. Google is already operating a
research and development centre in Krakow. That site would work closely with the
Wroclaw centre, Panczyj was cited as saying.
Foreign tourists last year spend US$7.1 billion in Poland
Foreign tourists spent more than US$7.1 billion in Poland in 2006, of which
those who stayed more than one-day accounted for US$3.4 billion and those of
one-day tourists accounted for US$3.7 billion, according to the initial data of
the Poland's Institute of Tourism published, New Europe reported.
The average spending of tourists has been growing since 2004 when the total hard
currency income earned from tourists amounted to US$5.78 billion while in 2005
it was US$6.1 billion, the data revealed. In 2006 Poland hosted 15.7 million
tourists (in 2005 - 15.2 million and in 2004 - 14.3 million). The Institute
estimates that in 2010 the number of tourists would go up to 18.7 million.