Polish Toledo

This blog is associated with www.polishtoledo.com

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Nie rosyjskiego węgla

Given the current tensions between Russia and Poland, especially with the current trade embargoes affecting both country's economies - Polish coal miners are protesting at the Braniewo – Mamonowo railway border crossing, where miners had blocked the railroad track, making it impossible for a cargo train with Russian coal to enter Poland. 

Polish coal miners block tracks

Recently installed Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz has commissioned a report on the situation in the Polish coal mining sector and has also asked for a speeding up of work on legal regulations for coal trade. 

See more at thenews.pl

Poland to withdraw from Visegrad defense radar project?

The Financial Times reports:

Poland is considering to pull out of a joint defense project with its central European allies. 

The Visegrad Group – comprising Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland – had planned to jointly develop a new mobile air defence radar system to replace outdated Cold War kit. But the project has been cast into doubt by the likely withdrawal of Poland, which decided this week to leave the talks, according to two people with knowledge of the decision. Warsaw has concluded that the other, smaller members of the group have little to contribute as it looks to modernise its military and its defence industry

Its withdrawal would be a blow to collaboration efforts at a time when security fears in the region are rising.

Did John Kerry Forget Poland Again?

See what Ed Krayewski has to say.

Lech wants nukes for Poland

Polish anti-communist icon and Nobel Peace laureate Lech Wałęsa said Poland should procure nuclear weapons as a safeguard against Russia.

Lech Wałęsa
EU and NATO member Poland has been rattled by Russia's actions in Ukraine, including its March annexation of the Crimean peninsula and suspected backing of rebels in the east.

Lech told the Rzeczpospolita daily, "Poland needs to stand up to Russia. Putin has been trying to intimidate us with his nuclear weapons, so why shouldn't we have our own arsenal?"

No explanation necessary
Wałęsa, who as leader of the Solidarity trade union negotiated a peaceful end to Communism at home in 1989 went on to say, "We should borrow, lease nuclear weapons and show Putin that if a Russian soldier poses one foot on our land uninvited, we will attack. Just to be clear."

It is under his administration as the first Polish President in the post Soviet era the last Russian troops left Poland in 1993. Six years later the country joined the NATO defense alliance. 

Several countries including Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey currently host shared nuclear weapons on their territory under NATO.

Monday, September 22, 2014

This will make PiS look good

With Donald Tusk gone to become president of the EU Council Poland's best  foreign minister in modern times, Radek Sikorski, a genius foreign-policy expert who helped lead his country to its heftiest international presence in centuries is gone. 

Grzegorz Schetyna was picked to replaced Sikorski as foreign minister on Sept. 19, when Ewa Kopacz, Poland's new prime minister, presented her cabinet. Ewa Kopacz, brought her party rival into her new cabinet as foreign minister to try to neutralize a potential challenge to her authority. He is a party insider and former speaker of Parliament who has demonstrated little interest in international relations, and who, according to his mother, learned his English from the foreign basketball players on a team he used to help run in his native Silesia. 

At a time when Russia is threatening neighboring Ukraine, even Mr. Schetyna's mother, Danuta, says her son was reluctant to take the job.

Sikorski will become speaker of Parliament.

These changes could work to the advantage of the conservative PiS Party in future elections.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Poland #1

Brazil's three year winning streak as world champions of volleyball came to an end this weekend as Poland emerged triumphant taking 3 out of 4 sets in the finals of the 2014 Men's World Championships on Sunday.

Polish Team looks very happy to be champs

It was Poland's seventh consecutive win in the tournament where they compiled an 11-1 win-loss record, while Brazil failed in their attempt to be the first nation to win four consecutive crowns.

Brazil suffered only two losses during the entire competition both at the hands of Poland with the previous one during the third round. Poland's only loss in the event came in the second round against the United States.

It was the second gold medal for Poland in the history of the event which was inaugurated in 1949, with the previous championship clinched forty years ago when the competition took place in Mexico in 1974. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Seeking missiles

Poland wants to acquire for its fleet of F-16 fighter jets 40 air-to-surface missiles, which are designed to cruise autonomously using an infrared seeker. They are also seeking other upgrades to the F-16 aircraft. 

A Pair of Polish F-16 Jets

The Pentagon is asking Congress to approve a $500 million foreign military sale to deliver the Lockheed Martin Corporation missiles saying: Poland continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in Central Europe, and the sale would improve Poland’s capability to meet current and future threats of enemy air and ground weapons systems.

Poland will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense.

Three Musketeers

While President Obama denies sending aid in the form of arms to Ukraine, NATO is beefing up naval forces in the Black Sea, and Russia increases the number of troops stationed in Crimea. 

Because of the escalating instability in the region caused by Russian aggression and threats by Putin that he could move his troops into 5 neighboring Eastern Europe countries; Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine have sealed a deal to form a joint military force which is expected to hold its first drill next year.

Photo of Polish Troops: Reuters/Roman Baluk

Polish defense officials told Reuters that LITPOLUKRBRIG (Lithuanian–Polish–Ukrainian Brigade) could take part in peacekeeping operations or, if necessary, form the basis of a NATO battle group in the region with headquarters in Lublin, Poland not far from the Ukraine border. 

While Lithuania and Poland are NATO members, Ukraine’s recent appeal for a special status outside the bloc was turned down by US President Barack Obama. 

Polish President Komorowski said the deal proves the tree nation's commitment to security in the region, but regretted the brigade was not formed sooner and that the new unit will have to make up for lost time.

The newly formed military unit is predicted to have about 4,000 soldiers with over 75% wearing the Polish insignia. 

According to Polish TVN21 channel, the subunits forming the brigade will remain in their home countries and will only get together for exercises and military missions. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fast and Furious

Fresh new threats are coming from Vladimir Putin regarding his Russian Empire expansion dreams. Putin was recently quoted boasting to the Ukrainian president that the Russian Army could be in Kiev in two days, along with Warsaw, Riga, Vilnius, Tallin and Bucarest. That totals to five NATO capitals. Five are former Soviet-bloc cities and unlike Ukraine their countries are now NATO and EU members.

Putin also allegedly touted his ability to squash European Union initiatives through bilateral contacts. Putin claimed he could 'influence and block the adoption of decisions at the level of the European Council', it was alleged.

Former popular Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was just named the new president of the EU Council.  See related blog post

The president of Ukraine this week warned the US Congress of a threat to 'global security everywhere' posed by the Russian aggression against his nation.

NATO's new rapid reaction force should be up and running within a year and Ukraine called on the west to supply them with additional military equipment.

As has been the case throughout the Obama administration, lack of leadership and focus on real solutions to threats across the globe have escalated world affairs into massive disarray.  From Gaza to the Islamic State, Ukraine to the South China Sea and even in the western hemisphere things have reach a dangerous boiling point. 

Shockwaves of fear will continue to reverberate through Eastern Europe for lack of preparation and defensive measures against the Russian threat which started several years ago with the invasion of ethnically Russian areas of Georgia and the downing of a Polish Government jet near the city of Smolensk, Russia, killing all 96 people on board as officials of the government were making a pilgrimage to the site of the Katyn massacre where thousands of Polish military officers and members of the intelligentsia where executed by Stalin early in World war II. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Poland marks 1939 Red Army invasion

At 3.30 am on 17 September 1939, the Polish ambassador in Moscow was handed a note, in which Moscow announced that the Polish state had ceased to exist.

  President Komorowski unveils huge epitaph to over 20,000
Polish officers murdered by the Stalinist secret service,
known as the Katyn Massacre.
Radio Polskie in its Thenews.pl web service reports:

In the wake of the Soviet invasion, mass arrests and deportations were carried out. By June 1941 over one a half million Poles were herded into trains, to work as slaves and forced labourers near the Arctic Circle and in the steppes of Kazakhstan.

In Poland, the invasion has often been described as a ‘stab in the back’, which Poland received from the Soviet Union seventeen days after the Nazi attack and less than a month after the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

In Warsaw on Wednesday, President Bronislaw Komorowski unveiled the Katyn Epitaph – the first batch of plaques with the names of over 20,000 Polish officers murdered by the Soviet NKVD police in 1940.

The epitaph is located in the Warsaw Citadel, the site of a future Katyn Museum, now under construction.

President Komorowski described the search for the truth about Katyń and the memory of that tragedy as one of the most important foundations of a free Poland. 

Komorowski admitted that the efforts to gain access to all documents relating to the Katyn massacre possessed by Moscow have failed.

President of the Institute of National Remembrance Łukasz Kamiński has told Polish Radio that the Polish nation has to preserve the memory of its plight under the Soviet occupation.
“World War Two and the Katyń massacre of 1940 are the cornerstones of the nation’s collective memory,” he said, adding that Poland needs a museum dedicated to the Katyń crime.

Lukasz Kaminski also stressed that for the past few years Moscow has been pursuing an aggressive propaganda in regards to Soviet policy during WWII, resorting to Stalinist lies including claims that the Soviet invasion of 75 years ago was undertaken to protect the Ukrainian and Byelorussian minorities in Poland’s eastern territories.

- See more at: http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/181829,Poland-marks-1939-Red-Army-invasion#sthash.jgZJu0uO.dpuf

For more on Katyn from this blog Click Here

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Short on gas

Disruptions in natural gas supplies from Russia by state-controlled Gazprom are testing Poland's resolve on it's hawkish position on Ukraine and Crimea. After the latest rounds of sanctions by western nations against Russian involvement in supporting eastern Ukraine rebels, Gazprom cut delivery close to the minimum allowed by contract.

Poland had to suspend the moderate amount of natural gas that it ships via pipeline to western Ukraine due to the current short supply.  

Poland, one of the most vocal critics of Russian intervention in Ukraine, depends on Russian gas imports for more than half its requirements. 

Russia may be using short sales of gas to Poland as a way to warn the EU who also depend heavily on Russian supplies that they'll suffer a cold winter if sanctions on Moscow continue. 

In a move to be self-reliant Poland is focused on developing its domestic shale gas resources. Although not as plentiful as first predicted there is enough gas at depths to 5,000 feet below the surface to make Poland free from import dependency. Currently, there are 65 shale gas wells operating, more than any other European country, and Poland plans to build 50 new  wells every year.

Shale Gas Deposits in Poland

Listen to Poland

Oxford educated, Solidarity dissident and now Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław (Radek) Sikorski recently said, " If Europe’s reaction to Crimea annexation had been more vigorous, as Poland advocated, and if the EU had adopted more immediate sanctions at the time, the current war in Donetsk would not have happened"

In an exclusive interview with EurActiv a News and Policy website he went on to say, "When we called for united European energy policy or solidarity in response to Russian trade barriers we were often called 'Russia-phobes'. Now, when president Putin broke all the range of international agreements, Europe starts to understand the value of solidarity and unanimous position. Not only towards Russia. Better coordination among European countries translates into better security and economic position in the long run for all of us."

If one characterizes Silorski as a "hawk", one would have to find a much harsher word to describe Putin.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Position of Great Importance

Donald Tusk
Donald Tusk, the only Polish prime minister to win a second term since the collapse of communism in 1989, will become the next European council president.

A few years ago Poland held the EU presidency, but that is a ceremonial position with member countries rotating every six months.

The presidency of the European council has a great deal of influence and prestige. The charming pragmatist and politically astute Tusk will become the mediator among other European leaders. The agenda-setting and mediation powers that go with the job allow him to shape the EU's future direction.

Poland was the only EU country to show unfaltering GDP growth through the  financial crisis, and the ensuing European debt and currency turmoil. 

The elevation of Donald Tusk to such a high office in the EU marks Poland as a major player in the affairs of Europe. 

Originally from Gdansk, the cradle of Poland's Solidarity Movement, he has been one of the EU's most successful and most pro-European prime ministers in recent years.

On the Ukraine - Russia issue, Tusk and Poland have led the hawks in Europe on getting tough with Putin, but it will be no easy task to get Germany, France and Italy to fall in line.

Elżbieta Bieńkowska

In related news -- Sources have told Polish Radio that Poland's deputy prime minister Elżbieta Bieńkowska is likely to become European commissioner for internal markets. According to sources, Bienkowska is highly valued in Brussels for her determined style as a minister and for her understanding of EU matters. Poland has been angling for a key post in the European Commission dealing with economic issues.

See more 

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