Polish Toledo

This blog is associated with www.polishtoledo.com

Monday, July 21, 2008

Economy Bright in Poland

According to experts Poland is a magnet for Foreign Direct Investments thanks to its stable, continuously developing economy, relatively low labor costs, preferable geographical location and very well-educated workers.

According to the forecast Poland should expect a EUR 13,000 million inflow of FDIs in 2008 which represents a EUR 166 million increase as compared with 2007. Romania can expect EUR 8,000 million worth of FDIs and Ukraine – EUR 7,000 million, while Belarus – only EUR 200 million.

The overall situation of Poland among new EU member states is not the best, banker.pl cautions. There are several reasons why Poland may lose its attractiveness for foreign investors: privatization processes are almost completed, international companies have already finalized the most significant mergers and labour costs are growing thus worsening companies' financial results.

Who's Who in the Polish Prison System

Tag - you're it! Polish inmates are to receive electronic tagging bracelets as a way of solving the problem of the overcrowded penitentiary system, at a cost to the tax payer of 300 million zlotys (around 150 Million USD). Tenders for companies to provide the bracelets and computer systems are to be submitted to the Ministry of Justice at the beginning of August. The main goal of the electronic tagging project is to develop the rehabilitation process, so petty criminals will not have to share cells and time with serious.

EU Constitution - Now the Irish Reject

Irish this time instead of Poles say nie to EU Constitution Approval.

Fifty two percent of Poles think that the president should sign the Lisbon Treaty. According to a poll by the CBOS Institute, 14 percent of the respondents are of a different opinion. Support for the continuation of the ratification process fell by three percentage points while the number of people who are against the ratification
grew by six percent.

In a press interview three weeks ago, President Lech Kaczynski said he would not sign the treaty at this moment because the Irish rejection made it `pointless'. Earlier this week, he assured French president Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris that Poland would not be an obstacle in the ratification process.

According to the CBOS survey, sixty percent of Poles think that despite the problems with the adoption of the EU reform treaty and the so-called European constitution, EU members states should continue the integration process. Thirteen percent of respondents say that the integration process should be brought to a halt.

Sorce: Polskie Radio

No Rockets for Poland?

Lithuania's president, said his country is willing if necessary to host elements of a U.S. missile shield. The United States said earlier this month that tentative discussions had been held with the Baltic country on hosting an interceptor missile base, after talks with Poland, Washington's first choice of host country, stalled.

Ex-Soviet Lithuania who joined the European Union and NATO in 2004 is not currently engaged in negotiations with the United States on deploying a missile shield, but the head of state believes that this anti-missile system is an important element of European and international security. Therefore, if necessary, they are ready to work with our partners to deploy it.

Moscow strongly opposes the possible deployment by the U.S. of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as a threat to its national security. Washington says the missile defense system is needed to deter possible strikes from Iran.

Poland has taken a tough stance in talks with the U.S., demanding that Washington upgrade the country's air defense systems as a condition for the deployment of an anti-missile base.

It's true Poland never got much in return from the USA for any of it's heroic efforts in the aid of America. Kościuszko & Pulaski aren't even a footnote in American revolutionary history considering the huge role they played in getting France on our side and saving the Continental Army on several occasions. They didn't get much credit for saving the U.K. from Nazi invasion either. G.W. Bush was right - "you forgot Poland!

Now, I guess it's time for Poland to "forget" America. Go stick your missles in someone else's dirt.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I'd Like My Palace Back, Please

Anna Wolska, a frail 83, hardly looks like a potential threat to Poland's government finances. But she is.

That is because she is an heir to one the country's pre-war aristocratic families, people who had their property confiscated without compensation by the communists after the war and are now trying to get either the property back or at least some kind of restitution.

Poland is the only post-communist European Union member not to have resolved the issue of communist-era nationalizations. There have been about 20 failed attempts to deal with the issue since 1989, and now the government of Donald Tusk, the country's prime minister, is promising to pass a law this year bringing the process to a close.

The stakes for Poland are enormous, in relation to both government finances and the country's relations with allies such as the US and Israel. Miroslaw Szypowski, head of the Polish Union of Property Owners, one of the largest groups seeking compensation, estimates that as many as 200,000 people have potential claims against the government. They come to as much as 80bn zlotys ($38bn) - about a quarter of the central government's annual spending.

Mrs Wolska's childhood home is Wilanow, Poland's grandest palace [see photo below], the home of several kings and, following the war and the imposition of communist rule, a national museum. Her family has been fighting, so far without success, for the return of land around the palace - now enormously valuable - and of property from inside the palace such as paintings and furniture.

"They should give back what can be given back," says Mrs Wolska, surveying two ancestral portraits at the manor house 70km south of Warsaw where she spends her summers.

On a recent visit to Israel, Mr Tusk said there would be restitution, but he stressed any reimbursement "would be a not very high percentage of what was lost and paid out over many years".

Successive governments have failed to resolve the issue because it is politically fraught, and many Poles are not in favour of paying out vast sums to the grandchildren of Poland's prewar elite. One law passed parliament in 2001 but was vetoed by Aleksander Kwasniewski, the former president.

In any compensation scheme, the largest individual beneficiaries would be people like Mrs Wolska, heirs of land-owning families whose property was nationalised or outright stolen by the communists.

Source: Financial Times
July 5 2008

Who Done It???

Mysterious death of General Sikorski solved?

A Polish historian, Dariusz Baliszewski, claims that General Wladyslaw Sikorski was murdered in 1943 by Poles acting under supervision of the British.

General Wladyslaw Sikorski was the Prime Minister of Poland's London-based government in exile and Commander-in- Chief of her armed forces during WWII, who died when his plane suddenly dropped into the Straights of Gibraltar moments after take off.

Last week the Archbishop of Krakow - where Sikorski's body is buried - gave his consent to exhume the remains to ascertain the cause of death.

Historian Baliszewski, who has investigated General Sikorski's death for 15 years, told the TVN24 news station on Sunday that he was murdered in Gibraltar by a Polish assassination squad acting under the supervision of the British.

"According to my materials, the General was strangled. He was found dead wearing only his underwear. He was probably having a siesta. [...] An examination of his body by five people in July 1943 showed that there were no injuries to his face, but it was a brown colour," the historian told TVN24.

Baliszewski said he had studied a group of 95 Poles who were staying in Gibraltar at the time of Sikorski's death. A group of Polish commandoes, supervised and trained to kill by the English, were among them.

The historian suggested that the Polish assassins were motivated by patriotism and acted on the belief that the killing of General Sikorski would be for the good of their country.

Baliszewski also said he believed that the Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz's approval last week to exhume the body would help establish the true cause of his death.

Officially, General Wladyslaw Sikorski, Prime Minister of Poland's London-based government in exile and Commander-in- Chief of her armed forces, died in a plane crash in mysterious circumstances on take-off from Gibraltar for England on July 4, 1943. Soon after take-off, the aircraft suddenly lost height and crashed into the harbour.

Many have speculated that Sikorski had become a thorn in the side of the British in their attempt to strengthen their alliance with Stalin.

Mowie Ponglish

Poles living and working in Britain in Ireland have created a new language: Ponglish, according to news in the Daily Telegraph of London. Article By Harry de Quetteville in Berlin and Michael Leidig Last Updated: 12:01am BST 03/07/2008 :

Poles who have flocked to live and work in Britain have created a hybrid language mixing English and Polish. Just as French and English combined to form Franglais, the Polish have their own linguistic cocktail: Ponglish.

The slang takes in everything from taxes –­ taksy – to driving, whose Ponglish equivalent, drajwnic, seems unlikely until it is pronounced: driveneech.

Those Ponglish drivers, of course, are sure to take care around "kornerze" on the "strity" while in the "kara".

After a hard day's work, what better than a chat with some "frendy"?

A spot of old school romance, on the other hand, seems less likely, with precious little magic in the Ponglish phrase "miec sex".

"We mix the two languages together all the time," said Magda Pustola, from the Polish Cultural Institute in London. "It's absolutely common to blend words and phrases. We find that more and more English is creeping into our Polish ­ even in meetings at the institute."

Some Polish workers in the UK report that the slang has become a secret language that infuriates older Poles back home who can't understand what they are saying.

But in Warsaw, young Poles are quickly adopting the new vocabulary.

There people are already "szoping" (shopping) for clothes, such as a 'tiszert', or going for a 'drinkowac' at the pub, presumably with a 'lajtowy' or light, easy going person.

"English is being used more and more," said Aneta Prasal-Wisniewska, a specialist on Polish and British cultural links at the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw. "It's connected to the rise of the internet and the fact that people are travelling so much more." "There are some small Polish towns and cities where huge groups left to go the UK, now when they meet up together back in Poland it's no surprise if they use slang with English words," she said.

But she said that Ponglish has yet to bleed through into mainstream Polish society to the extent that Franglais has affected French, where a star might disappear for a discreet surgical 'lifting' before magically revealing 'un nouveau look'.

"I would be very surprised if its spreads into classical Polish," she said.

"It is not broadly adopted yet, certainly not as much as English has changed other European languages." Back in London however, Ponglish is becoming almost second nature for some Poles.

"It's not a conscious, rational thing," said Magda Pustola, "It's just there and slips out. In a way it's about getting creative." Other Ponglish words have not been borrowed, but simply stolen, out of necessity.

Ms Pustola said that the word "highstreet" had quickly been adopted by Poles in London "because we just don't have the equivalent of how London is made up of lots of little towns, each with a main street".

For those who believe that the English linguistic juggernaut is a one-way express however, she had some words of caution.

"At the institute we are always trying to smuggle Polish words into English," she said, pointing to a recent campaign to promote Poland's favourite drink: 'There is No V in Wodka'.

"We spell vodka with a W," she said, "so we campaigned to change all words with 'v'." British people, accordingly, might soon be 'wacuuming' or watching 'wideos'.

"You see," she said, "it works both ways."

Source: Daily Telegraph - London

What? Like we never heard dzia-dzia speak Ponglish? Often he would speak about Wisiting Uncle Wictor in Nova York.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Polish Armed Forces Leaking

Last year 4,500 soldiers resigned from the armed forces in Poland, twice as many as expected by the Ministry of the National Defence.

The Rzeczpospolita daily reports that the problem concerns both officers and other ranks in all specialities. There are enough colonels and generals, however, writes the paper.

In order to prevent the current leakage of personnel the Ministry is planning pay-rises and promises of an easier path to promotion and a professional career.

This year a system of evaluating the situation is to be introduced and resigning soldiers will be subject to various voluntary polls to find reason for their disaffection with army life. As of next year the Polish army is to become fully professional, doing away with the conscript system. This could make the situation even more difficult as it is possible there will be not enough people willing to serve in Poland's various overseas commitments, with troop deployment in various hotspots around the globe, including Afghanistan, the Balkans, and Africa. Polish troops are scheduled to withdraw from Iraq by October this year.


As the biggest coffeehouse chain in the world is closing its stores in the US, it is still planning to open the first ones in Poland. Starbucks, which is planning to open its first stores in Poland in the second half of the year, announced that it would be closing 600 of the existing cafes in the States, a move to be accompanied by laying off 12,000 workers.

Poles find America a Bargin

Reports of Poles using their zloty to buy US goods at bargain prices over the Internet isn't anything new. But US Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe's quote on the embassy's web site of "bringing an extra suitcase so that you can return to Poland with a suitcase full of new items" was quite surprising.

Janusz, a third year University student has taken the US ambassador's invitation to heart: `I actually wanted to buy a digital camera here in Poland but, it was very expensive. So I asked a
friend in the US to get me one because there it's a lot cheaper.'

Marta runs a small business in Warsaw. She's planning to do some shopping in the US: `I'm going to buy a laptop in the United States of America because it is cheaper than to buy it here in Poland.'

The US Embassy in Poland's website says that the average waiting time for a visa appointment in Warsaw and Krakow is just two days, which means you can plan a trip and be on a plane within a week. Though this information seems quite optimistic there is no mention of easing US visa
requirements for Poles.

Warsaw is Washington's most loyal ally in Europe. Poland has been calling for the waiving of US visas for years. Professor Zbignew Lewitski from the American studies center in Warsaw thinks that the invitation to shop `til you drop in the US is a pleasant surprise and a cut above official rhetoric: `To invite Poles to go to the United States to prop up the American economy by buying their goods is a marvelous development, though it should go hand in hand with easing the
requirements for American visas because you can not go to the States unless you get an American visa. So I think that it indicates a change of attitude of the American Ambassador.'

Observers also think that the mere fact that a high level US diplomat has officially stretched out his hand welcoming Poles to visit the US underscores just how affluent Poles have become: 'It clearly indicates that when seen through the eyes of foreigners Poles are doing better and
better economically but, also in their attitude because you only spend money on things that are not necessary if you feel optimistic about the future. I welcome this statement and I think that it is one of the most optimistic evaluations of the Polish economy and society I've heard in a long time.'

The US-zloty exchange rate is pegged at 2.11 zlotys to one dollar. Financial analyst Marcin Bilbin says that due to a relatively strong zloty and Euro it makes plenty of sense to spend zlotys on a shopping spree in the US: `We have a very strong zloty on the financial market especially against the Euro. On the other hand we can see extremely weak dollar on the global market so the dollar zloty rate is a mixture of these two components. The dollar zloty rate is extremely low so the zloty is exceptionally strong against the dollar. This is the strongest level for 15 years. If you earn in Polish zloty and if you spend in the US for example , US product will be even 50% cheaper than in Poland.'

No one knows just how many Poles will apply for visas to the US but, the embassy website notes that the average waiting time has been cut down to 48 hours. That seems like no time at all to take the US ambassador up on his gracious offer.

Source: Polskie Radio

Amber - Poland has the best

Amber is one of the few organic materials to be valued in the same way as diamonds and other precious stones.

The best Amber like the best vodka comes from Poland. It's a resin, or was millions of years ago when most deposits of amber started their life's journey. The resin emerged from prehistoric trees, probably in northern Europe, before becoming fossilised and swept around the world's oceans.

The shores of the Baltic Sea in Poland are where most amber is found today. It can also be found in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, where it is known as "Mayan amber". However, as the American deposits are dated at a juvenile 25 million years, it is the ancient Baltic variety that is most prized. Some pieces found in this region have been dated at 100 million years. Amber rocks weighing more than 10 kilograms were found in the 19th century.

This material has, for years, been turned into jewellery in Poland, where amber is regarded almost as a sacred object with therapeutic qualities. Sufferers of arthritis wear amber and even those in good health like to wear some around their neck as a talisman. A tiny fragment dropped in water is a traditional cure for hangovers. A piece placed on a television set is supposed to generate positive energy (and perhaps improve what's on the box).

Once considered folk art, amber jewellery is growing in popularity as a fashion accessory. The smaller fragments are cheap and easy to work into pendants and rings, even cufflinks.

While the traditional honey-coloured amber is the most common, it comes in most shades from black to white, described with names such as cognac, champagne, butterscotch and cherry.

There are also attractive shades of green and blue. However, the most valuable variety is milky white, especially if left in its original shape.

The challenge for designers is to alter the amber's original shape as little as possible while turning it into a wearable work of art. Also considered valuable are any pieces with insects or natural material trapped inside the resin. Prehistoric spiders, even frogs, have been found preserved in amber. These are not that rare but are uncommon enough to be regarded as premium-quality jewellery. They are also regarded as symbols of good fortune.

Silver settings complement amber jewellery best and, for collectors, modern sculptural designs, in the organic style of Georg Jensen, are among the most collectable. Even when set in sterling silver, these are economical compared with gemstones. Amber in silver usually costs from $1000 to $5000. There are items available much more cheaply than this but it's unlikely that these will be particularly old.

It's also possible that they may not be amber at all. The market is flooded with imitation pieces, easily picked from the genuine article. There is a test for age. If the piece is placed in water with a little salt then is touched with acetone, the very old examples will be unaffected. Modern resin will become sticky to the touch. Specialist jewellers will also be able to date your piece of amber, at least to within a million years or so.

Despite this material's astonishing age and story of survival, amber is less durable than opal, for example. A valuable piece shouldn't be exposed to strong sunlight or washed with soap. Even hairspray can adversely affect the quality and colour.

The age of resin by James Cockington
The Age, Australia - July 2, 2008