Polish Toledo

This blog is associated with www.polishtoledo.com

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Energy Independence

Reducing dependence on Russian energy will top the agenda when the presidents of the three Baltic nations and Poland meet Thursday.

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus was to host Polish President Lech Kaczynski in Vilnius for a first round of talks.

Then the two were travelling to the Latvian capital, Riga, to meet Latvian President Valdis Zatlers and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

'They'll discuss energy and energy security in the context of the Kiev energy conference. They will also talk about the Georgian elections and showing possible support to Georgia,' Zatlers' spokeswoman Inta Lase told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Poland and the Baltics want diversify energy supplies away from Russia and plan to build a nuclear power plant in Lithuania by 2015. Ukraine has expressed interest in joining the project.

Lithuania and Poland also aim to build an 'energy bridge' connecting the isolated Baltic electric grid to the rest of the European Union.

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The popemobile used by Pope John Paul II during his historic first visit back to his native country has been purchased by a Polish museum.

The popemobile that the Pontiff used on his visit in 1979 will be added to the collection of the museum in Starachowice. The purchase price for the vehicle was 100,000 Polish sloty, or about $46,000.

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Warsaw Looking Up

This past Wednesday in the Polish capital of Warsaw Zaha Hadid displayed her design, below, for a 790-foot residential skyscraper to be built in the heart of the city. Called Lilium Tower, the sleek, glass-covered building, with floor space of 1.1 million square feet has a fleur-de-lis motif and is to house apartments, a condominium hotel and commercial and recreational facilities on a site facing the city's Palace of Culture. Completion is expected in 2012.

Last week, construction began on a futuristic residential skyscraper designed by Daniel Libeskind, and Norman Foster has designed a commercial center adjacent to the National Opera.

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Missle Shield - still cooking

Brushing aside US criticism, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Friday that Washington must provide financial aid for the Polish armed forces if it wants to deploy a missile shield on Polish territory. Tusk told reporters that the missile shield, which Washington says is necessary to protect it from attacks by rogue states like Iran or North Korea, will only be installed if Poland's security is strengthened.

He said he expected "a concrete offer" from the United States in July. Earlier, Polish media quoted a high-ranking US diplomat as saying Poland was seeking too much and should invest more of its own money in the armed forces.

Warsaw wants Washington to help it modernize its antiquated air defence system. The US has allocated 27 million dollars for this in its 2009 budget and President George W Bush has pledged an additional 20 million dollars.

Poland's demands are estimated at several billion dollars.

Tusk said his country and the US had differing views on the benefits of the missile defence system for the security of Central Europe.

Poland wants the US to help it upgrade its armed forces so they will be in a position to cope with the changing security situation and counter potential terrorist attacks on the US installations.

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Survey Says ---

A survey carried out by PBS/DGA for "Gazeta Prawna" has found75% of Poles back the trading ban prohibiting commerce on 12 public holidays. Only 11% of those surveyed were for abolishing the ban and 5% said more business should be permitted to open.

The survey also showed that 30% of Poles usually shop in supermarkets, but 78% declare they shop there only sometimes. 29% of the respondents admitted they weekly spend over PLN 200 on groceries. A year ago 21% of those polled spent this much. According the "Gazeta Prawna" Poles spend on average PLN 218 a week – PLN 50 more than a year ago.

62% of surveyed Poles said it didn't matter to them if the store they shop at is Polish or foreign-owned; 53% admit they made a purchase over the internet during last year.

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Lech Walesa Under Fire

Polish politicians and intellectuals defended former president Lech Walesa against allegations he was an informer for the communist secret police.

Former premiers Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Jerzy Buzek were among those who called for an end to the 'campaign of hate and slander' which they said was destroying Poland's 'national remembrance.

The allegations against the Solidarity union founder are due to be made public in a report by the Institute of National Remembrance, which investigates communist crimes committed in Poland. Media reports said the report lists new documents which show Walesa, 64, established contact with the communist secret service in the 1970s and acted as an informer under the code name Bolek.

The authors of the report claim Walesa tried to cover up embarrassing details about his past during his term as Poland's first democratically elected president from 1990-1995. Walesa has denied the allegations and threatened legal action against the authors of the report. The secret service began observing Walesa after he became involved in anti-communist protests as a young shipyard worker in Gdansk in 1970.

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Another Joint Combat Group

Polish and German ministers of national defense decided to create a joint combat group at their meeting in Warsaw May 21, 2008. "A joint combat group within the Weimar Triangle [comprising Germany, Poland and France] which would operate within the NATO framework," said Franz Josef Jung, German minister of national defense, who at the same time supported Poland's bid for locating a NATO communications battalion on its soil.

"I thanked [the German side] for support that will undoubtedly help us. The battalion would be the second NATO unit in Poland after the training center in Bydgoszcz," said Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich, adding that it was vital that NATO infrastructure is evenly located within the territories of its members.

A bone of contention between the two sides remains Ukraine's NATO bid, which Germany opposes and Poland supports. "I tried to persuade our partners to change their mind because NATO is not only a guarantee of security but also democracy," emphasized Klich. Germany opposed immediate NATO expansion into Ukraine and Georgia at the Bucharest summit in April for fear of provoking Moscow, though the NATO leadership indicated that the matter will be looked at again later this year.

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It's Cyrillic to me

The Russian language is coming back to Polish schools. This year 30,000 students have decided to pass an examination for the secondary school certificate in Russian. Under communism, this subject was compulsory and yet still most graduates couldn't really speak fluent or even fair Russian after leaving school. This was because Russian was mentally rejected by generations of young Poles as the main language of the Soviet Union, an oppressive state occupying Poland.

However, contemporary Polish students don't have this sort of negative connotation with Russia or any kind of Russian complex. Therefore, they are likely to treat Russian as any other language. At the same time, it now pays to speak Russian, which, combined with English or German, is an advantage for a young person looking for a good job. Many private companies are keen to do business in Russia and they need Russian-speakers.

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First Thanksgiving - Poland

Poland's first Thanksgiving Day - June 1st... Promoted heavily on TV & Radio.

Poland's first national day of thanksgiving - a campaign for saying thank you to the people aroundus, and to God. A Church and lay committee involved in the creation of the Sanctuary of Divine Providence in Warsaw is launching this multimedia project encouraging Poles to show gratitude for all the good they receive daily from God and other people.

We are surrounded by people, by our families, and friends, and saying thank you can tell them that they are important, that they can really contribute to our life. And saying thank You to God, especially as a Pole, is very important.

We have gained our full independence only 19 years ago and our history is full of big events, wars, but also a lot of pain caused by armies which crossed the Polish country. Poland, in many places, is a big cemetery of people who died fighting for Polish independence. So we have to thank for the situation now, that Poland, in a miraculous way, is free. Independence was gained without war, without big fights. And, this is a sort of a miracle. "Now is the time to say thank you, also to God" says Piotr Gaweł of the Center of God's Providence.

The Polish day of thanksgiving coincides with International Children's Day and is planned as an annual celebration. The choice of the date was very conscious, says Warsaw metropolitan archbishop Kazimierz Nycz: June in Poland is connected so much to regaining independence in 1989, and also to papal pilgrimages to Poland, which took place almost always at the beginning of June, including the most important visit in 1979, when the Pope asked God to send forth the Holy Spirit and renew the face of this earth. We know now that the Spirit was sent and the face of this earth renewed. In addition to the media campaign, which includes also a special websitewww.dziekuje. pl <http://www.dziekuje.pl/> , concerts, prayers, games for children and other events will be organized in the open air.

The whole idea originated around the project of the Center of Divine Providence - a huge sanctuary and museum in one, which is being built in Warsaw. The center consists of three parts. The first part is a sanctuary to commemorate special events in Polish history and the link between God and Polish history. This is also a place where everyone can say thankyou for things which happen every day to all of us. The second part is a museum. This museum is for John Paul II and our Primate of the Millenium, Cardinal Wyszynski.

We want this to be an excellent place for young people and older people, to really feel and experience last century of Poland and of Europe, what happened then, and also to feel the spirit of the time. The third part is the pantheon. This is a place underground where the biggest Polish people will be buried and we want this to become really a very special place in the next centuries, according to Piotr Gaweł. The official celebrations of the Day of Thanksgiving start on the last day of May with an evening prayer vigil, and are proceeded by a several day long media campaign in Polish Radio and state television.

Source: Polskie Radio